Simply Zov: Rustic Classics with a Mediterranean Twist

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Fall Harvest Brings a Bounty of Fresh Flavors and Easy Meals Perfect for the Holidays.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” Famed chef and restaurateur Zov Karamardian cannot imagine life without flavor. That is why she created SIMPLY ZOV: RUSTIC CLASSICS WITH A MEDITERRANEAN TWIST (Zov’s Publishing; January 2011; $39.00/hardcover; ISBN: 978-0-9759558-2-6), offering a simple and easy approach to Mediterranean cooking for easy meals any night of the week.

With the fall season come holiday parties and family gatherings and celebrations. Simply Zov has budget-friendly recipes that can be put together quickly and easily. “My recipes are easy and cost-effective. Most can be prepared ahead of time which means more time to enjoy guests and less time in the kitchen,” Zov explains.

While the base ingredients in Zov’s recipes are items most home cooks already have in their pantry, Zov aims to introduce cooks to some new flavors and ingredients. Simply Zov combines the flavors and spices of Zov’s Mediterranean heritage with more traditional American fare.

Zov loves the holidays, cooking up delicious meals to share with family and friends. Her earliest memories are of her family seated around the dinner table sharing food, stories and love. All of her heartwarming recipes were created to bring that family togetherness to tables everywhere. The easy-to-follow recipes have Zov’s “do-ahead” tips and kitchen notes for alternative ideas. This unique collection runs the gamut from breakfast to desserts; unique chicken, fish and beef entrées, to remarkable appetizers, soups and salads.

Whether an experience chef or novice, Simply Zov will help anyone create fresh and delicious, affordable meals. This holiday season let Zov Karamardian and Simply Zov put dinner on the table with these delicious fall recipes.

Simply Zov is available in local bookstores and and is now offered as an iPad application and download on Kindle. [ __title__ ]

Tenderloin of Beef with Stuffed Spinach Leeks and Goat Cheese
Serves 6-8

Here is an elegant way to present beef. Butterflying is quite simple and can be done quickly, but you can also have your butcher do it for you. This dish is perfect to serve for a holiday party or weeknight dinner.

2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
9 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning beef
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning beef
8 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 3-pound whole beef tenderloin, trimmed
Red Wine Sauce (recipe follows)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, leeks, mushrooms and garlic and cook until the leeks and mushrooms are tender and the liquid has evaporated, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté until tender and the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Season the spinach mixture with thyme, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Stir in the goat cheese and pine nuts until the cheese is melted and creamy. Set aside to cool while you prepare the beef.

Do-Ahead Tip: Refrigerate the filling for up to 2 days.

Butterfly the beef tenderloin by cutting the tenderloin lengthwise down the center and about two-thirds of the way through the beef. Lay the tenderloin open on a work surface. Using a mallet, pound the beef to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness.

Season the beef with salt and pepper, then spread the filling mixture down the center of the tenderloin. Roll the beef around the filling in a tight cylinder, then continue rolling as for a jelly roll to enclose the filling. Using butcher string, tie and secure the beef in 2-inch intervals. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat a large roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil to the hot pan, then immediately lay the beef in the pan and quickly brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the beef to a rack set on a heavy large baking sheet. Roast for about 35 minutes for medium-rare doneness. Transfer the beef to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using a large sharp knife, cut the tenderloin crosswise into slices and transfer to plates. Spoon the sauce over the beef and serve.
Red Wine Sauce
Makes 1-1/3 cups

This richly flavored sauce comes together in minutes.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons minced shallots
½ cup dry red wine (such as Merlot or Syrah)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ¼ cups beef broth, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the shallots and sauté until the shallots are tender, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until it is incorporated with the wine. Add 1 cup of the beef broth and bring to a boil, then continue to cook another 3 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining ¼ cup of the beef broth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the thyme and butter to the sauce and stir until the sauce is nice and velvety. Add the salt and pepper. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Do-ahead tip: cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Zov’s Kitchen Note: This versatile sauce adds extra dimension to grilled or baked chicken as well. Keep the red wine, and just substitute chicken broth for the beef broth.

Butternut Squash Parmesan Bread Pudding
Serves 8

Mention bread pudding, and most people think dessert. But this savory version is just as delicious, and has the same luscious, creamy texture that makes the sweet version so appealing. . That velvety texture comes from soaking the bread until the custard is absorbed. Butternut squash lends a sweet, nutty flavor, and is a perfect partner with any meat dish.

1 1/3 pounds butternut squash
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup minced shallots
5 large eggs
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons seasoned salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-pound) loaf of brioche bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Coat a 13x9x2-inch baking dish or eight 10-ounce ramekins with olive oil.

Peel, seed, and cut the butternut squash into ½ - to ¾ -inch cubes (you should have about 3 ½ cups). Toss the squash in a large bowl with 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil to coat. Arrange the squash in a single layer on a heavy large baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir the shallots and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into the squash. Continue roasting until the squash and shallots are just tender, about 7 minutes longer. Set aside. Decrease the oven temperature to 350°F.

Whisk together the eggs, chicken stock, cream, and milk in a large bowl to blend well. Stir in the cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, thyme, kosher salt, seasoned salt and black pepper. Stir in the squash and cubed brioche. Let rest for 30 minutes, or until the bread soaks up most of the liquid. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish or ramekins.

Do-Ahead Tip: At this point, the bread pudding can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Place the baking dish or ramekins in a roasting pan that is at least 1 ½ to 2 inches high. Transfer the pan to the oven and add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish or ramekins. Bake until the pudding is golden brown on top and just set in the middle, about 50 minutes if using ramekins and 55 minutes if using a baking dish. Using oven mitts, very carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven. The water in the roasting pan will be very hot, so take caution when removing the pan from the oven so that you do not spill any water on yourself or inside the bread pudding. Serve immediately.

Zov’s Kitchen Note: The hot water bath provides a constant, steady heat source and ensures even, slow cooking. After the pudding has been baked, some of the water will have evaporated, but some will remain, so be careful not to tip the roasting pan when you take it out of the oven.


Throughout her 24 years in the restaurant business, Zov Karamardian has been lauded by some of the most prestigious culinary organizations in the country, including the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Zov burst onto the food scene in 1987 when she opened her first restaurant, Zov’s Bistro in Tustin, CA. It’s phenomenal success launched the culinary career of a woman Julia Child called “a friend and colleague.” Zov considers herself a teacher, like her friend and mentor, Julia Child, from whom she learned much of her craft. She often hosts cooking classes at her restaurant and invites renowned chefs to share their knowledge. Guest chefs have included Emeril Lagasse, Jacques Pépin, Anne Burrell, and Julia Child. Zov loves to travel the world finding new spices, herbs and recipes to share with her fans. She has devoted much of her time and resources to causes she believes in. The State of California named her Chef of the Year and the American Diabetes Association named her Woman of Valor. Zov has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines across the United States and is a frequent guest on radio talk shows and television sharing her love of food. Her first bistro has blossomed into restaurants in Newport Beach, Irvine, and in 2012, Zov’s Bistro will be opening in two terminals of John Wayne International Airport in Orange County, California. For more information on Zov, go to

These recipe may be reproduced with the following credit:
Recipes from SIMPLY ZOV: Rustic Classics with a Mediterranean Twist
by Zov Karamardian
Zov’s Publishing; January 2011; Hardcover/$39.00

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