Samantha Ferraro: Little Ferraro Kitchen, Mediterranean Flavors, and One Pot Chicken

Taste Buds with Deb - Episode 3
May 10, 2023
Samantha Ferraro. Photo by Kelsey Kurtis.

“You could read a lot about a person based on what’s on their table,” said Samantha Ferraro, author of “The Weeknight Mediterranean Kitchen” and “One-Pot Mediterranean” cookbooks.

You could also learn a lot about yourself, as you discover and explore new flavors.

Food is very sensory. “You’re smelling, you’re seeing, you’re touching, you’re enjoying,” she said.

And what’s on Ferraro’s table?

“If you came to my house and you looked in my kitchen, you would probably see lots of citrus,” Ferraro said. “I always have some lemons, oranges or limes, because I know I can make a multitude of things.”

You’ll also see bundles of fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint and basil.

With that assortment of spices, citrus and herbs, Ferraro knows she can make anything she wants.

“I grew up on a lot of those Mediterranean flavors,” she said.

Her mother’s side of the family is Sephardic Jewish, which, Ferraro explains, comes with a lot of Turkish and Spanish flavors; lots of fresh herbs and citrus.

“I’ve always just naturally gravitated towards those flavors,” Ferraro said.

Her two favorite spices are Za’atar, which is a spice blend that includes sumac, oregano, thyme and sesame, and smoked paprika.

Ferraro’s new cookbook, “One-Pot Mediterranean” follows the same flavors as her first one, but everything’s made in one pot. It’s meant to build flavors.

“So we might be searing chicken, and then adding vegetables,” she said, “Because everything is cooked at a different level. It’s all done in one pot.” Her recipe for One Pot Chicken and Rice with Lemon and Chickpeas is below.

Ferraro started cooking, and sharing recipes, through her blog, Little Ferraro Kitchen in 2011.

“Originally I was going to be a nurse,” she said. “I was in nursing school … and it didn’t work out, so I was definitely going through this discovery phase of like, ‘Who am I?’ ‘What am I meant to do in this world?’ And that’s when I started cooking.

Even though it started as an outlet to get her through a challenging time, cooking turned out to be Ferraro’s true passion.

So which does Ferraro love more? The cooking or the eating?

“I love to experience food: the flavors, the textures and the different nuances,” she said. “My favorite thing is getting someone excited about a recipe.”

When asked what is the one thing she knows now that she wishes she knew when she started cooking, Ferraro says to keep it simple.

“Let the good produce, or whatever you’re using, shine,” she said.

For instance, Ferraro loves citrus and will put it on everything. She adds lemon juice to salad dressings and lemon zest to baked goods (like cookies), and uses slices when cooking chicken or fish.

“If you have a good product, you don’t need to do much to it,” she said. “Just add some freshness to it, and it’s always going to be delicious.”

For my full conversation with Samantha Ferraro, listen to the podcast:

Watch the interview:

For more recipes and tips, follow @Ferrarokitchen on Instagram and LittleFerraroKitchen on Facebook.  Get Samantha Ferraro’s recipe for Roasted Salmon with Citrus and Herbs and Mediterranean Roasted Vegetables with Za’atar on LittleFerraroKitchen.com.

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Photo courtesy Little Ferraro Kitchen

One Pot Chicken and Rice with Lemon and Chickpeas

A flavorful and easy one pot chicken and rice recipe that is seasoned with bold Mediterranean spices, chickpeas and fresh lemon.

2 lbs skin on and bone in chicken thighs

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp sumac

1 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 tsp Ground black pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp allspice

1 lemon, zested and sliced thinly

Olive oil for drizzling

1 small shallot, diced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup uncooked basmati rice

15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed

2 cups chicken broth

Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a small bowl, add all of the spices, lemon zest, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  3. Dry the chicken thighs very well with paper towels and season the chicken with the spice and lemon zest mixture, making sure all the chicken is generously and evenly coated all over.
  4. Bring a wide dutch oven or pan to medium heat and drizzle with olive oil. Sear the chicken, skin side down until deeply golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, then flip over and sear the other side for another 2 minutes.
  5. Once done, remove chicken from the pan and reserve to a plate.
  6. In the same pan, add the chopped shallots and saute until caramelized and softened for about 2-3 minutes, then add the chopped garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  7. Add the basmati rice and saute in the residual fat, so all of the grains are lightly coated with the flavored oil. Add the drained chickpeas and toss together for another minute.
  8. Nestle the chicken thighs into the rice and chickpea mixture, skin side up and pour the chicken stock around the chicken. Scatter the lemon slices on top of the chicken.
  9. Turn off heat and cover the pot. Then place it into the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Then remove the cover and continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes, until the liquid has absorbed and chicken is cooked through.
  10. Once done, remove the chicken from the oven and garnish everything with fresh chopped parsley.


Take the time to sear the chicken skin and render the fat to use in sautéing the aromatics and rice.

Rinse the basmati rice a few times until the water runs clear. This produces a lighter and airier result once the rice is cooked.

Debra Eckerling is a writer for the Jewish Journal and the host of “Taste Buds with Deb.” Subscribe on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform. Email Debra: tastebuds@jewishjournal.com.

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