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José Andrés shares Mediterranean recipes from his new cookbook 'Zaytinya'

For his latest cookbook, José Andrés honors Greek, Lebanese and Turkish cuisines.
/ Source: TODAY

Chef, restaurateur and founder of World Central Kitchen, José Andrés is stopping by the TODAY kitchen to share a few of his favorite recipes from his new cookbook, "Zaytinya: Delicious Mediterranean Dishes from Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon." He shows us how to make saucy chicken with orzo, tabbouleh with fresh herbs, creamy Turkish eggs, a vibrant citrus salad with olives and seared scallops with tzatziki.

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Chicken Youvetsi

Youvetsi is comfort food made by yiayias, Greek grandmothers. The dish, which takes its name from a clay cooking vessel, is a super easy one-pot dish (clay or not!) that’s perfect for a busy weeknight. You may have had orzo before, the small pasta of Italy, but maybe you haven’t heard of kritharaki, the Greek version. It’s got a similar shape (kritharaki means “little barley”) and flavor, but the durum wheat of Greece gives it a nice extra chew — still, you can make it with Italian orzo if that’s what you can find. The dish has a subtle spice to it from the allspice, cinnamon and Aleppo pepper — you don’t want them to come across too strongly; they should all blend into the background.


In Beirut, it’s not surprising to find tabbouleh on every menu. It is the classic mezze of Lebanon. On a recent trip, my team noticed that everywhere we ate, the tabbouleh served on the table looked different than the place before. Dany Abi-Najm, who was traveling with us, explained that tabbouleh can vary from town to town and from house to house. You’ll find varieties loaded with bulgur or cucumbers, or some with no tomatoes or mint. I have to agree with Clifford A. Wright, the great Mediterranean cookbook author, who describes a proper tabbouleh as “a Lebanese herb salad with bulgur, not a bulgur salad with herbs.” Freshly chopped parsley and mint, a bright squeeze of lemon, a generous dose of olive oil and just enough bulgur and tomato to hold it together is a perfect combination.

Çilbir, pronounced “jill-bur,” is an old Ottoman dish, dating back at least 600 years. If you ask for it in Turkey, it will be poached eggs with yogurt and a pepper-infused butter, but we (of course) needed to make our own version. I like fried eggs instead of poached, and instead of the pepper butter, we created a Turkish take on the amazing Chinese condiment chili crisp. We make an oil out of Aleppo chilies and add crispy onions, garlic and spices. Be sure to make a whole recipe (or even double it) because you’ll want to put it on everything — eggs, fish, vegetables, meat — or eat it straight out of the bowl!

The combination of citrus, onions and olives is loved all around the Mediterranean. This take on the classic Turkish orange-and-onion salad has been a favorite winter offering since our earliest days. We add spicy red watercress here, but any peppery greens, such as baby arugula, work well. If you have leftover dressing, keep it refrigerated for up to a week.

The creamy yogurt in tzatziki brings out the natural sweetness in scallops. In the fall, we like to pair them with an apple cacik, a Turkish cousin to tzatziki. Even fava Santorini makes for a delicious combination. Season the scallops with our Sumac-Rose Spice and you’ll find an unexpected aroma and tartness. When shopping for scallops, look for 10/20 size (10 to 20 make up a pound) and make sure they’re dry-packed, meaning they haven’t been artificially plumped up with water and additives. When cooking them, get a good hard sear and don’t cook them beyond that — you want to make sure they don’t get chewy.