(L-R) Evan Lewandowski, Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbiety teach a class at Caputo's on Lebanese food and local wine. Photo: Amanda Rock
I’m a total know-it-all when it comes to vegan food. At least, I thought I was. On Tuesday night, I had my ass handed to me at a Caputo’s cooking class hosted by Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbiety, the power couple behind Laziz Middle Eastern Spreads. I’m still trying to absorb everything I learned. Luckily, there were handouts and I took copious notes.
An intimate group of about ten people gathered in the deli of Caputo’s Market downtown, hungry and eager to learn. Using goods from the deli, the Laziz couple demonstrated how to make traditional Lebanese recipes like Batata Harra (spicy potatoes) and Bazella (a savory and sweet veggie stew).
Lebanese food is one of the most vegan-friendly cuisines in the world. Hearty vegetable stews served over rice, spicy potatoes and lots of legumes make up a good part of their diet, so when I saw that Tony Caputo’s Market and Deli was offering a cooking class taught by Derek and Moudi, I jumped at the chance to attend.
The evening started with snacks. Generous plates of veggies and a happy assortment of olives, crackers and cheese were shared with Laziz Muhammara, a sweet and nutty dip made with walnuts and red pepper--and, of course, hummus.
Their hummus is what put them on the map in Salt Lake. Made without oil, their hummus is light and fluffy, which makes it the perfect base to personalize with fresh herbs and spices. I like to add plenty of rich olive oil, basil from the porch garden and a little paprika. Delicious!
Sharing the spotlight were two other local favorites, The Chocolate Conspiracy and Ruth Lewandowski wines. And yes, they brought vegan goodies to share. During the class, Evan Lewandowski shared his knowledge and passion for natural (not filtered through fish guts!) wine, while the group sampled delightful selections from his winery.
I was stuffed from all the food I tried, but I had room for the decadent Tahini Cup from The Chocolate Conspiracy (I always have room for chocolate!). Instead of plain old peanut butter, A.J. Wentworth, the owner and chocolate maker, uses creamy tahini. I’ve never had tahini in a confection, so my interest was piqued. It was heavenly, creamy and melty in your mouthy.
Don’t be too jealous, because Derek and Moudi will be partnering with Caputo’s for more cooking classes. The recipes they showcased were simple, delicious and will certainly become part of my weekly rotation. If you’re new to cooking, or to veganism, or eating, I would highly suggest checking out Caputo’s selection of classes.
Perhaps I’ll see you on Sept. 17 for my very own tasting class: Italiana Vegan with Amanda Rock. We’ll be raiding the shelves of Caputo’s Market for vegan delicacies. You’ll go home with easy Italian recipes, both from my family and a few tricks I’ve learned along the way. You won’t want to miss it! Sign up today!