Aladdin Mediterranean Restaurant, 401 Penn Ave. West Reading, PA 19611. Phone 610-685-6677

Aladdin is a wonderful Mideastern restaurant that offers a variety of delectable foods for the health conscious.  They have an extensive vegetarian menu to eat in or take out, and always use the finest fresh ingredients.  It is one of our favorite restaurants in Berks County — we have never been disappointed by the food or the service.  The atmosphere is very ethnic — almost like eating in a desert nomad’s tent or a Mideastern marketplace, complete with music. To add to the fun, Friday night usually features a live bellydancer.

Last night I ordered the Aladdin Makaleh which consisted of grilled cauliflower, zucchini, and eggplant along with falafel topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, and tahini sauce.  It was delicious (and huge)! My husband had the Falafel Salad, which is a very generous serving of falafel, hummus, tabouleh, and tahini sauce.  At only $7.50 it is a bargain.  I have ordered the Falafel Salad in the past and can tell you that their tabouleh is the best!  Don’t let the word “salad” make you think this dish will leave you feeling hungry; it is definitely large enough for a satisfying entrée.  We had fountain drinks (free refills), and did not order dessert because it was a friend’s birthday,  and we had brought our own cake.  Aladdin supplied plates and silverware with a smile.  If you are looking for excellent vegetarian food in Berks County, then you won’t be disappointed with Aladdin.  If you don’t see exactly what you want on the menu, you can make your own combination platter or ask them to alter any item to suit your preference, and they will oblige.

Aladdin is truly a gem — a wonderful compliment to the Main Street revitalization program in West Reading.  Their prices are reasonable and parking is convenient.  Oh, they do serve meat dishes and have a Kids Menu, too 🙂

For more information online:  DineIndie.com/Aladdin

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Steamed Vegetable Casserole

This recipe is only a guideline.  You can use whatever vegetables are cluttering your refrigerator.  I usually make it when I have an overabundance of produce and just need more frig. space.  You can also substitute pasta for the brown rice, and it will be just as delicious.

Ingredients for the sauce:

6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Whisk the sauce and put it aside.

Ingredients for casserole:

Whatever vegetables you desire.  Fresh broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower work well.  I’ve also added sweet red peppers, zucchini, green beans, or yellow summer squash to the mix — whatever you have on hand. Cut vegetable into one inch chunks (slice carrot chunks in half), do not chop.

2 cups cooked brown rice or pasta

1 – 2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

8 oz. grated veggie cheddar cheese

1 – 2 Tbsp. veggie parmesan cheese

Method:

Using a steamer pot, bring water to a boil over high heat.  Put the veggies in the steamer basket, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes, gently turning the veggies two or three times.  You want them to be crisp-tender, not wilted (the green veggies should be still bright green); if you see them start to wilt or change color remove the pot from the heat — they are done.

In the bottom of a PAM sprayed oblong glass casserole dish, place the cooked brown rice (or pasta).  Sprinkle half the veggie cheddar cheese over rice.  Spread the steamed vegetables over that and sprinkle reserved sauce over the veggies.   Dust with Old Bay Seasoning, to taste.   Top with remaining cheddar cheese and veggie parmesan cheese.

Cover loosely with aluminum foil, and put in 350 degree oven for just 10 minutes (to melt the cheese).

Beautiful colors — healthy and delicious!


Broiled Summer Vegetable Wraps

When summer comes everyone wants to grill something delicious and eat outside. Vegetarians are often clueless about what to do when that urge strikes. When your meat-eating friends are grilling steaks and chicken, what are you supposed to do? Nuke another veggie burger?
We have found that grilled or broiled Vegetable Wraps are not only delicious, but beautiful — much more colorful and appetizing than a hunk of brown meat. Plus, you can do all the slicing and dicing the day before and allow the veggies to marinate overnight. The next day you only have to broil or grill them for a few minutes, and they’re ready to wrap.

Ingredients:
Any combination of 1/2 inch sliced zucchini, yellow summer squash, eggplant, and red, green, and/or yellow sweet peppers . (Slice enough to fill a large oblong glass lasagna-type casserole dish).
1 large onion cut into eighths
2 – 3 cloves of thinly sliced fresh garlic

Marinade:
1/3 c olive oil
2 – 3 Tbsps. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
Drizzle marinade mixture over vegetables and gently stir and toss to coat them. (Use more marinade if desired). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day:
Preheat oven on BROIL setting. Spread marinated vegetables on a large PAM-sprayed baking sheet (with sides). Broil for 4 minutes, turn veggies, broil for another 4 minutes. Repeat until done. This doesn’t take too long — about 10 – 15 minutes total. The veggies will be done when they are slightly wilted and browned. — OR —
If you want to use your outdoor gas grill instead of the oven broiler, just put the prepared vegetables on a double thickness of PAM-sprayed heavy-duty aluminum foil. Cover with another double layer foil, and securely seal edges. Place on center grate and turn package over once or twice during cooking.
Serve on whole wheat tortilla wraps with veggie cheese and Creamy Herb Dressing*