Air fryers are a hot countertop appliance right now - with good reason. The high heat blown quickly around the cooking chamber by a fan allows you to achieve a crisp crust on the outside just as if the food was deep fried. Air fryers cook food at a fraction of the time a conventional oven does, and you don't have to use a ton of fat while cooking. Air frying allows you to feel like you're eating fried food without all of the guilt and calories. That's a big win for me!
As you know, I'm no stranger to an air fryer. I gave you my top 10 air frying tips in this post, and I love my Mealthy CrispLid which transforms my Instant Pot into an air fryer (my Instant Pot is OG; the current models come with air frying functionality). So when cookbook author Emily Paster suggested a virtual class on air frying, I was all in! Emily's latest cookbook Instantly Mediterranean features vibrant, satisfying recipes for both your Instant Pot and air fryer. Emily has taught two different virtual classes on cooking in the Instant Pot for us, and for this new class, she is sharing her knowledge of air frying for the first time. Emily is an air fryer pro, having authored another cookbook on the techniques involved, called Epic Air Fryer.
I'm a big fan of Emily's cookbooks and have made a lot of the Instant Pot recipes from Instantly Mediterranean, but I hadn't yet dug into the air frying section until recently. And wow, there are some delicious dishes in there! I recently made the Halloumi with Roasted Grapes and Mint because who doesn't look for a chance to eat halloumi anytime they can? I took Emily's suggestion and served it over a bed of greens with cucumbers for a light lunch.
The firm halloumi cheese works in the air fryer because it holds its shape so well (try it on the grill too!). You could use this dish as an appetizer, or serve it with crusty bread as part of a mezze spread. The halloumi becomes golden brown and slightly gooey and the heat brings out the grapes' natural sweetness. Air fried grapes will be a regular addition to my salads going forward!
Next, I couldn't resist making the Cauliflower Steaks with Green Tahini Sauce and Dukkah. I often cut a head of cauliflower into thick slices (aka steaks) and grill them and this shape also works well in the air fryer. Save the florets you don't use for cauliflower rice!
Green tahini sauce is Emily's take on traditional tahini pumped up with lots of fresh, green herbs like parsley and cilantro, and it added so much flavor to the cauliflower. I could literally put this sauce on anything! The Dukkah added a nice crunchy texture combined with the toasted Panko breadcrumbs.
If you aren't familiar with Dukkah, it's an Egyptian nut and seed mixture that is used to add crunch and flavor to dips, spreads and soups. You can also use it as a coating for fish, sprinkle it on salads or use it to top hummus or labneh. Emily's recipe calls for hazelnuts, but I had almonds in my pantry so I used those. You could also use walnuts or pecans, or really any other nut that you like. You can also vary the types of seeds (sesame, cumin, fennel and coriander are traditional) or even add more spice or sweetness, depending on how you like to use it. The great news is that it will keep up to 6 months in your freezer!
To go with my cauliflower steaks, I decided to make Chicken Shawarma because it's one of my favorite dishes, and I order it anytime I am at a Middle Eastern or Greek restaurant. I thought if I could make it just as good in my air fryer, I would definitely be able to have this dish a lot more often. I'm happy to report it was a huge success, so I hope you give it a try!
Reprinted with permission from Instantly Mediterranean
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, totaling around 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon honey (I used my black garlic honey)
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Whole Wheat Pita
Tahini Sauce or Green Tahini Sauce
1. Cut each chicken thigh across the grain into 3 or 4 pieces and place them in a glass baking dish along with the onion.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the spices, honey and lemon juice. While whisking, slowly pour in the oil in a steady stream. Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss the chicken to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
3. Preheat the air fryer to 360 degrees for 3 minutes. Spray the basket of the air fryer with oil. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken and onion from the marinade, leaving the liquid behind. Working in batches as necessary to not crowd the basket, arrange the chicken and onion in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook until the chicken is browned and the internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the first batch of chicken to a serving plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
4. Serve the chicken and onion warm with pita bread, tahini sauce and Israeli salad, if desired.
I used the same green tahini sauce I made for the cauliflower dish (like I said, it goes well on anything). I used store-bought pita for this meal, but it would be even better with Emily's Whole Wheat Pita which I've made before. It proofs in the Instant Pot!
Now that I've made some of the air fryer dishes from Instantly Mediterranean, I'm even more excited for Emily's new virtual class this Saturday. Join us on Saturday, April 9 at 10am CST to learn how to use your air fryer more, and master three of Emily's delicious recipes:
- Fried Pickles with Buttermilk Herb Ranch Dressing
- Lamb and Bulgur Kofta
- Herby Green Falafel
Air frying is this week's challenge for our private Facebook group. Join the group, make a dish in your air fryer and share it with other members for inspiration. Prepare to be inspired!