Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta by Yotam Ottolenghi

I have been thinking that I *needed* to make a barley risotto for quite some time. I was intrigued by this Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. It was the idea of the feta, marinated in caraway and olive oil and the combination of aromatics and spices--garlic, shallots, lemon peel, thyme, smoked paprika, chile flakes, and oregano that drew me in. I have been loving the unique way Ottolenghi combines flavors and ingredients. Hearty, colorful, vegetarian, and although it takes time and a little effort, not as persnickety as risotto with rice. 

Jerusalem says, "This vegetarian main course is a dish everybody loves, particularly children. Unlike proper Italian risotto, ours does not require the exact precision and meticulous preparation, but still tastes sensational."   

Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta
Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
(Serves 4)

1 cup / 200 g pearl barley
2 Tbsp / 30 g unsalted butter (I used Earth Balance)
6 Tbsp / 90 ml olive oil (separated)
2 small celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch / 0.5 cm dice
2 small shallots, cut into 1/4-inch / 0.5 cm dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
4 strips lemon peel
1/4 tsp chile flakes
one (14 oz / 400 g) can chopped tomatoes (I used diced fire-roasted
scant 3 cups / 700 ml vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups / 300 ml passata*** (sieved crushed tomatoes)
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
10 1/2 oz / 300 g feta cheese broken into roughly 3/4-inch / 2 cm pieces
1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse the pearl barley well under cold water and leave to drain.

Melt the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a very large frying pan and cook the celery, shallots, and garlic over gentle heat for 5 minutes until soft. Add the barley, thyme, paprika, bay leaf, lemon peel, chile flakes, tomatoes, stock, passata, and salt. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a very gentle simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the risotto does not catch on the bottom of the pan. When ready, the barley should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed.

Meanwhile, toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes. Then lightly crush them so that some whole seeds remain. Add them to the feta with the remaining 4 tablespoons /60 ml olive oil and gently mix to combine.

Once the risotto is ready, check the seasoning and then divide it among four shallow bowls. Top each with the marinated feta, including the oil, and a sprinkling of oregano leaves.  

***Passata: This was my first experience with passata which basically is just fresh tomatoes "passed" through a sieve or food mill to remove all seeds and lumps. For giggles, I look for it in the Italian section of my local gourmet grocery and found a big glass bottle from the Primo brand. I decided to try it but you could easily make your own or Pomi makes a strained tomato puree that is the same thing--just tomatoes strained smooth, nothing more.  

Notes/Results: Satisfying and lots of rich tomato flavor. The barley is slightly chewy with just the slightest smoky heat from the smoked paprika and chile flakes. I used a French sheep's milk feta and it added a great tangy touch and creamy texture that combined with the slightly pungent toasted caraway, was very unique. Great for a veg-friendly dinner party or still simple enough to be a weeknight dinner. It does take some time but most of the stirring needs to be done just toward the end of the cooking time to prevent sticking as the bulk of the liquid absorbs. This recipe was another Ottolenghi winner for me--I would make it again. 

The I Heart Cooking Clubs theme this week is "Going WITH the Grain"--you can see what grain-filled recipes everyone made by going to the post and following the links.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Corn-and-Coconut Milk Soup: Easy Mark Bittman for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I had not seen the "corn lady" parked along the road by my house and selling bags of fresh sweet local corn, for quite some time so I had to stop and grab a bag. All thoughts went to corn soup and a quick search led me to a Mark Bittman recipe from a New York Times Magazine  article on uses for fresh corn. I love the simplicity of Bittman's recipes and the Thai flavors in this soup. 

I adapted things a bit (adjusting the coconut milk amount, adding kaffir lime leaves, onion and a small red chili), in red below. As common with Bittman, the recipe is more of a sketch to start things off with. Coconut milk and corn are a perfect pairing for a light and refreshing bowl of soup.  

Corn-and-Coconut Milk Soup
Adapted from Mark Bittman, NYT Magazine, August 23, 2012
(Makes about 4 Servings)

4-6 stripped cobs of corn (3 to 4 cups)
4 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
4-5 kaffir lime leaves
1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil
(1 medium sweet onion, chopped)
(1/2 to 1 small red chili, seeded & minced)
2 stalks lemon grass, peeled and chopped finely
1/3 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped + more to garnish
fresh lime juice to taste
salt and black pepper to taste

Put corn kernels in 4 cups coconut milk and 2 cups water for 15 minutes. (Don't boil) Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, sauté chopped onion and lemon grass in a neutral-flavored oil with the seeded, minced chili until softened and translucent. Add the lemongrass mixture to the broth, along with 1/3 cup of the Thai basil, chopped and cook until onions are soft and cooked through. Add fresh lime juice to taste. Garnish with additional fresh Thai basil and serve.

Notes/Results: Mmm... There isn't much better than fresh sweet corn off the cob, still slightly crisp and juicy in a soup. If you can't get it yet where you are at--wait for it--it's so worth it in a recipe like this.The soup is mild but has several layers of flavor from the different aromatic ingredients and the corn flavor comes through well. The red pepper adds just a little kick to the mix. I ended up using the juice from two small limes, so it was nice and tangy. This soup is nice as a light starter and would be great with some salad rolls or a green papaya salad for dinner. I would make it again.

This is my second entry this week for our Potluck theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Our new expanded Potluck feature allows for recipes from past IHCC chefs and I have been missing Mark Bittman! ;-) Check out the Potluck creations everyone made by going to the post and following the links. 

Let's check out the Souper Sundays kitchen and see what dishes await!

Janet of The Taste Space shares a delectable bowl of Chang Mai Curry Noodles with Tempeh (Vegan Khao Soi) and says, "...it is a brothy coconut curry with boiled egg noodles and tofu, topped with crispy fried egg noodles. ...this version has you making your own curry paste from fresh turmeric (yes!), ginger, cilantro, garlic and chilies. No shrimp here. It is used to flavour a coconut curry broth that is studded with tempeh, noodles, lime and cilantro. I used kelp noodles for mine whereas Rob prefers the egg noodles. Absolutely delicious."

Joanne of Eats Well With Others made one of my recent favorite recipes, Yotam Ottolenghi's Herb, Chard & Feta Soup. She says, "When I saw this soup in the last year's January issue of Bon Appetit I thought YES - DIY cleanse food! On the cheap! WIN. But then I also thought, hmm I should pair this with beer-infused biscuits. Because...apparently cleansing-according-to-moi includes butter. And lots of it.  Now all of a sudden I see why people spend an arm and a leg and a first-born child on these prepared programs. There's far less room for subjectivity. Or user error. Or your deep-seated love of butter to intervene. Besides. All that swiss chard has to count for something right?"

Also rocking Ottolenghi this week is my friend and IHCC co-host Sue of Couscous and Consciousness with this lovely Burnt Aubergine & Mograbieh Soup. Sue says, "The final dish exceeded all my expectations. The flavour is deep, smoky and intense, and the mograbieh (also known as Israeli couscous) along with the chunks of roasted aubergine add great textural interest.  Now I know that there are those amongst you who could eat soup every night of the week - I am not one of those people.  Soup is something I do on occasion, but it's definitely not a "go-to" dish for me.  Well let me tell you that this is the soup that could potentially change all that - this is so good that I feel like I want to eat this every night for the rest of my life ... or at least until the next great Ottolenghi dish comes along."

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes offers up this beautiful salad and says, "Since I have been carrying around a tiny smidgen of winter weight, I went with something light, this Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Olives, and Green Beans filled the bill quite nicely.  Just look at it – doesn’t it look like some fancy spa food! This was so easy, perfect for a weeknight.  It was even better the next day when the tomatoes had given up more of their juice and the topping was a little more dressing like.  The key to this is try to get a little bit of everything in on one bite.  The chicken by itself is not that exciting, but when you get a bit of the sweetness from the tomatoes and a tart bite from the olives, so good!"

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food shares this light and healthy Couscous, Broccoli, Bell Pepper Salad and says, "Couscous does resemble quinoa when cooked, but it is a form of pasta, not a seed like quinoa and taste less earthy than quinoa. Best of all, couscous cooks instantly! I love the "instant" part of it. Really. These days when the weather gets too hot making me lose my appetite, such quick and light one-dish salads are easy to turn to."

One sandwich from Brittany at Brittany Cooks, these flavorful Indian-Spiced Turkey Burgers. She says, "These aren't the most beautiful burgers in the world, but boy are they flavorful. I made one immediately after combining all the ingredients, and per the author's suggestion, also waited until the next day to cook the rest to let the flavors marry. I'm so glad I did. I thought the flavor was great with the first one, but the second was incredible. Served on a toasted bun with lettuce and a little homemade tzatziki, these are probably my new favorite burgers!

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week! If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for all of the details. 

Have a happy, healthy week!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"In This House We Have Chocolate Cake for Breakfast"--"Single Girl Melty Chocolate Cake" for Food 'n Flix April: Practical Magic

"In this house we have chocolate cake for breakfast. We never bother with silly things like bedtimes or brushing our teeth," so says Aunt Francis Owens as she and her sister, Jet welcome their young orphan nieces Sally and Gillian into their home. Practical Magic, starring Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, and Dianne Wiest, is this month's Food 'n Flix pick, hosted by Glennis at Can't Believe We Ate... 

Practical Magic, the film adaptation of the novel by Alic Hoffman is the story of the Owens family, witches under a "love curse," from their ancestor Maria. When an Owens woman falls in love with a man, he is cursed with an untimely death. Sally and Gillian, now grown and suffering the effects of the curse in different ways, must work together to fight it and find love and happiness. I read the book and saw the movie several years ago. I wouldn't say it is a top favorite, but I love all the actresses, along with Aidan Quinn and Goran Višnjić, a couple of the token men in the film, so it was fun to watch it again. Although not what I would call a firm "foodie film," there is a fair amount of food and drink inspiration sprinkled throughout the movie.

I am not going to lie, you have probably already suspected that I procrastinated to the very last possible minute to re-watch this film and make a dish inspired by it. In fact, I forgot to order the movie on Netflix and did a last minute search for it on cable last night, lucky to find it running at 4:30 AM. (Thank you Encore Love Channel!) I DVR'd it and sat down this morning to watch, thinking I could find my inspiration, head to the store and knock something out. A few minutes into the film, the chocolate cake for breakfast line came up and I was sold.

Now, I certainly didn't need a big chocolate cake and I remembered the recipe for Single Girl Melty Chocolate Cake from the Joy the Baker Cookbook, I reviewed a while back. I put the movie on pause, took 15 minutes to whip up a melty little plate of heaven and ate my breakfast of champions while watching the movie. How's that for true inspiration!?!

Single Girl Melty Chocolate Cake
Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
(Serves 1)

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used the vegan mini chips I had on hand) 
1 large egg
4 tsp granulated sugar
pinchof salt
1 tsp all-purpose flour

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Place a cookie sheet in the oven as the oven heats. Generously butter and flour a one-cup ramekin and set aside. 

Melt chocolate and butter together. (You can use a double boiler or I just used the microwave).  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and whisk together until well combined. Add the salt and flour and stir until just combined.
Pour batter into prepared ramekin and place in oven on top of cookie sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes. The less time in the oven, the more gooey the cake will be. (I did mine about 11 minutes and it was plenty gooey, but watch carefully.) 

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes. Using potholders, carefully invert cake onto a plate and dig in. Cake will be gooey and melty and slightly underdone. Eat immediately. (Like you could wait!) ;-)

Notes/Results: I am a little bit sorry I decided to try this recipe. A delicious chocolate cake should not be this quick and easy to make! ;-) This is gooey and hits the spot and at least there is built-in portion control. Using the microwave for melting and mixing things in a couple of glass measuring cups, this was in the oven in about 5 minutes, ready to eat in less than 20 minutes--perfect for when you need chocolate relief fast. I dusted my cake with powdered sugar and served it with a couple mini-scoops of chocolate chip ice cream. I certainly am not advocating chocolate cake for breakfast every day, but it this case, it was a nice Saturday morning treat! I will make this cake again. (Probably too much!

Thanks to Glennis for picking this fun film and helping me eat cake for breakfast! The deadline for this month's Food 'n Flix entries is tomorrow, Sunday, April 28th, and Glennis will be rounding up the entries on her blog shortly after. If you missed this round and love food and movies, join us next month for the French film, Delicatessen, hosted by The Law Student's Cookbook. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yotom Ottolenghi's Shakshuka: Colorful, Flavorful Peppers & Eggs

As soon as I saw the name Shakshuka, I wanted to make this Yotam Ottolenghi dish. Just say it out loud--fast, low and throaty... Shaksuka! It's just plain fun to say. This North African dish is also pretty and colorful and tastes delicious. How can you not love a medley of sautéed bell pepper, onions and tomatoes with herbs and spices? The runny-yolked egg carefully nestled in the veggies, is the icing on the cake!

In Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi says, "In a tiny alley in old Jaffa there's a little restaurant serving food to customers sitting outside at shared shabby tables. The place is heaving around lunchtime and everybody, more or less, is eating the same thing. The place is called Dr. Shakshuka, after its signature dish, and thus is, obviously, what everyone is tucking into."

from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
(Serves 4 Generously)

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 red bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch strips
2 yellow bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch strips
4 tsp muscovado (you can substitute brown) sugar
2 bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, plus extra to garnish
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
pinch of cayenne pepper 
salt and black pepper
up to 1-1/8 cups water
8 eggs 

In a large saucepan, dry-roast the cumin on high heat for two minutes. Add the oil and sauté the onions for two minutes. Add the peppers, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and two tablespoons of coriander, and cook on high heat to get a nice colour. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, adding enough water to keep it the consistency of a pasta sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavoursome. You can prepare this mix in advance.

Place four saucepans on medium heat and divide the mixture between them. Break two eggs into each pan, pouring into gaps in the mixture. Sprinkle with salt, cover and cook very gently for 10-12 minutes, until the egg just sets. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with chunky white bread.
Ottolenghi notes that the dish has many variations like preserved lemon, feta and other herbs and spices. 

Notes/Results: I love this dish with all its wonderful flavor. There is a sweetness in the peppers and tomatoes, the savory onions and eggs, and roasty taste of the cumin seeds and the freshness of the herbs. I made about a half-batch with three smallish peppers--red, yellow and orange. The price of the three-pack from Canada was cheaper than buying the peppers individually from Mexico, and the extra color is fun. I reduced the oil by more than half (down to about 2 Tbsp for the half-recipe) and just a pinch of sugar (no need for more of either in my opinion), but I forgot to reduce the spice amounts as I was cooking from the full recipe to half-batch. Whoops! No matter--I like more intense flavors. This is a dish that smells delicious from the moment the cumin seed hits the hot pan and the aroma gets better as each layer of ingredients is added. I ate this as a "breakfast for dinner" with some toasted garlic bread to dip into the sauce and egg yolk. A definite make-again for me!

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs--a chance to make any recipe from Ottolenghi or any of our previous chefs (new fun feature!) and Shakshuka is also our Optional Monthly Community Recipe (another fun new IHCC feature where we can all make the same Ottolenghi recipe). You can check out the other Potluck dishes by going to the post and seeing the link-ups. 


Sunday, April 21, 2013

White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigiana (Recipe from from Terry Hope Romero) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I was looking for a good farro soup, maybe something with beans and I found one in Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero--White bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigiana. Besides the farro, to help use up some of the Trader Joe's quick-cooking farro my mom gifted me, what really attracted me to the soup was the topping--crumbles of golden chickpea flour that is supposed to melt into the warmth of the soup. A well-topped bowl of good soup is a little slice of heaven in my book! ;-)

The recipes for the soup and topping from Vegan Eats World can also be found on Romero's website, here. I made just a couple of tiny changes--in red below.

Romero calls this "A great big Italian-style soup with a little Tuscan flair..."

White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigiana
Adapted from Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero
(Serves 6 to 8)

1 cup uncooked pearled farro (I used a TJ's quick-cook version)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced (I used 1/2 onion & added leeks)

(I added 2 large leeks, white and light green parts trimmed and chopped)
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced

one (14-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp crumbled dried rosemary
1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp rubbed sage powder
8 cups vegetable broth

two (14-oz) cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans) (I added 1 more can--3 total)
1 cup baby spinach leaves or finely chopped escarole (optional)
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

few twists of freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste
1 recipe Chickpea Parmigianino Topping (Recipe below)

Pour the farro into a metal mesh sieve and rinse. In a 4-quart soup pot, preheat the olive oil over medium heat, stir in the garlic, and fry for 30 seconds. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and fry for 5 minutes or until onion is tender and translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, salt and fry for 1 minute. Stir in the vegetable broth, beans, and farro. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover. Simmer the soup for 30 to 40 minutes or until the farro grains are plump and tender. Occasionally uncover and stir the soup.

When the farro is tender, if using spinach or escarole stir into the soup and simmer another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with pepper and salt to taste. Partially cover the soup and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Ladle soup into large deep serving bowls. Sprinkle top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of Chickpea Parmigianino.

Chickpea Parmigianino Topping
Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups topping)

"A technique borrowed from Ethiopian cuisine transforms humble chickpea flour into salty, tender golden crumbles that resemble coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Like finely grated cheese, these crumbles dissolve on contact with hot, moist foods and add a sharp, lemony, and salty coating perfect for Mediterranean recipes."

3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt

Over medium heat in a small saucepan preheat the olive oil, then pour in the chickpea flour. Use a rubber spatula to mash the flour into the oil and stir constantly to toast the flour for about 2 minutes. The flour should turn a darker shade of yellow and look slightly damp.

In a measuring cup whisk together the lemon juice, water, and salt. Pour into the flour; it will sizzle and splatter a little. Stir constantly until a firm ball of dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and spread the dough onto a dinner plate. Use the spatula or your fingers (once the dough cools slightly) to press and smear the dough into a thin layer over the surface of the plate. Transfer the plate to the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.
Once the dough feels completely cool, remove from the refrigerator and drag a large fork through the dough. Continue to press the fork through it while also stirring and fluffing up the crumbs. The more you work the dough with the fork, the finer the crumbs will be. (I found the fork helpful in the beginning but my fingers (clean of course) to be even better in getting fine crumbs.) Continue for 3 to 5 minutes until it’s very fine and crumbly. Use the crumbs now, or pour into a container and chill another 20 minutes for firmer texture.

For best results, sprinkle crumbs generously over hot soup or pasta just before serving. The crumbs will dissolve on hot, moist food. To keep crumbs fluffy, use a fork to fluff up before serving.

A picture without the topping--so you can see the soup. ;-)

Notes/Results: Good Soup! Good soup + fun & delicious topping = Excellent Soup! I really enjoyed this recipe. The flavor of the soup with the herbs and veggies is great and the texture of the farrow and beans make it hearty and satisfying. When it gets topped with the crumbly chickpea flour Parmigiana, the slightly tart and salty addition takes it up a notch. No one will mistake it for real Parmesan but it does "melt" nicely into the soup as you eat it. A great idea and pretty easy to execute. Since I didn't have any chickpea flour on hand, I just made my own with dried chickpeas and the wonder of the Vitamix dry blender container. This makes a nice-sized pot of soup and I am happy to consume the leftovers. ;-) I would make this soup, and will make the Chickpea Parmigiana, to try on other dishes, again.

Friends await in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look!

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food shares this Burdock Root (Gobo) Soup and says, "Though I usually see Burdock Root/Gobo in the Asian supermarkets here in California, I never have the urge to buy and cook it. ...I decided that maybe I can try making a soup, a vegetarian soup. In Chinese food therapy, burdock root helps to reduce heat in the body. Thus it is beneficial in the warming temperature trend, spring to summer. One distinctive characteristic that I wish to highlight is the smell of ginseng when boiling the burdock root in this soup. Burdock root or Gobo is regarded as "Oriental Ginseng" for a reason - not only the smell but the nutrients and benefits too."

Mireille of Chef Mireille's Global Creations made this spicy flavorful Thai Seafood Soup and says, "Continuing on  my Sunday Thailand theme, here's a spicy, intense soup with all of the multi-layered flavors expected of Thai food. If you don't handle really spicy food well, you can reduce the quantity of chiles used, but the heat of the chile is balanced with the palm sugar and salt from the fish sauce and soy sauce."

My friend Sue of Couscous & Consciousness has two salads to share this week. First, her version of Ottolenghi's Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds. Sue says, "This salad delivered on all fronts - texture, taste (just the right amount of that sweet, salty, sour going on), and leafy goodness.  I made a couple of small changes - I subbed in fennel in place of red onion, which I'm not particularly fond of raw in salads, and I replaced pita bread croutons with sourdough, because that's what I had on hand.  I also adjusted quantities to make a delicious lunch for one person.  This certainly won't be the last time that this salad graces my lunch table."  

Sue's second salad is this pretty Rocket & Cress Salad with Roasted Figs & Haloumi. She says, "The peppery rocket and cress, combined with the lemony-spicy croutons and almonds, the sweet, juicy figs, and the salty haloumi was a blindingly-good flavour combination.  While crunchy nuts and croutons, velvety leaves, soft fruit and squeaky cheese all added up to a great textural combo as well. This is the perfect dish for a light autumn lunch, or would also make a great side dish to roasted chicken or some lovely barbequed lamb chops.  Hope you'll give it a try."

Joyce of Kitchen Flavors made this colorful salad of Ottolenghi's Curry Roasted Root Vegetables with Lime and says, "A delicious dish of roasted root vegetables. The natural sweetness of the root veggies, with the slight spicy kick from the chilli powder and the taste and aroma from both the curry leaves and kaffir lime leaves are just simply wonderful, together with slight tangy lime juice, really packs a ton of flavours! I had this for my dinner, and can't help thinking that "I had roasted salad for dinner today"! I've enjoyed every single piece. And a second plate! Yum! I'll be making these again!"

Joanne of Eats Well With Others is also a fan of Ottolenghi's Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds, serving it with a savory bread pudding. Joanne says, "...this salad from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem is possibly one the best things I've ever tasted. ... There is just something so captivating about the combination of slightly pickled onions and dates with the spicy citrusy crispy crunchy sumac-coated pita croutons and chopped almonds. Every bite is magical. So much so that you don't even remember you're eating something that's actually good for you.  I've made it twice in the past week and so if this isn't love at first bite, I'm not really sure what is.

Janet of The Taste Space offers up a crisp Napa Cabbage and Asian Pear Salad with Smoky Avocado & Cumin Dressing and says, "Not all dressings are created equal, and this smoky avocado dressing is creamy but intense at the same time. It wouldn’t work with flimsy baby greens, which is why I opted for heartier sliced Napa cabbage and collard greens. To counter the heaviness of the dressing, I added a touch of sweetness to the salad with Asian pear and red bell pepper. To add even more goodness, I added some arugula sprouts and to add a good protein source I added chickpeas [sprouted chickpeas keeps this raw, but cooked chickpeas are what I prefer]. With the dressing thinned out over the salad, it was a nice merriment of flavours and textures, although a tad heavy on cumin (even for me)."

Janet's second entry are these salady Quinoa Sprouts, Avocado and Tomato Marinara Wraps and says, "I’ve tried raw quinoa before (basically quinoa soaked for a day) but prefer to use cooked quinoa. Uncooked raw/sprouted grains and legumes kind of go thump in my tummy. The quinoa is dressed with a rich flavourful tomato sauce which I unrawified by substituting red pepper paste for the optional red pepper. This is then placed in a Romaine leaf and topped with avocado for a delicious wrap. I found it was best to add the dressing just prior to serving since leftovers became dry."

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week! If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share--just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Na'ama's Fattoush: Bread & Vegetable Salad

I have been looking at the recipe for Na'ama's Fattoush ever since buying Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. This week, I Heart Cooking Clubs features recipes with root vegetables and this salad includes radishes--an under-used root vegetable in my world. I used to dislike radishes until I had them roasted. After that, I gradually began to appreciate them raw, just as long as they are thinly sliced. ;-) 

Fattoush is a bread and vegetable salad--usually using fried or toasted flat bread, seasonal veggies and sumac. This one differs in that it has a buttermilk-like dressing and the bread is not fried. I was able to use all local veggies and herbs--little baby cucumbers, small cherry tomatoes and both red and pink radishes. I also added a can of chickpeas to the mix--it makes it more of a meal salad, nice for the warm and humid days we have been having this week. 

Jerusalem says, "This fabulous salad is probably Sami's mother's creation; Sami can't recall anyone else in the neighborhood making it. She called it fattoush, which is true only to the extent that it includes chopped vegetable and bread. She added a kind of homemade buttermilk and didn't fry her bread which makes it terribly comforting.

Na'ama's Fattoush
Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
(Serves 6)

scant 1 cup/200g Greek yogurt and 3/4 cup + 2 Tbs/ 200ml full-fat milk, or 1 2/3 cups /400ml buttermilk (replacing both yogurt and milk)
2 large stale Turkish flatbread or naan
3 large tomatoes, cut into large dice (I used cherry tomatoes)
3 1/2 oz /100g radishes, thinly sliced
3 Lebanese or mini cucumbers, peeled and chopped into large dice
2 green onions, thinly sliced 
(I added one can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained)
1/2 oz /15g mint, roughly chopped
scant 1 oz /25g flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp dried mint
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup/60ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tbsp sumac or more to taste, to garnish 

If using yogurt and milk, start at least three hours and up to a day in advance by placing both in a bowl. Whisk well and leave in a cool place or in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface. What you get is a kind of homemade buttermilk, but less sour. 

Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add your fermented yogurt mixture or buttermilk, followed by the rest of the ingredients, mix well and leave for 10 minutes for all the flavours to combine. 

Spoon the fattoush into serving bowls, drizzle with olive oil and garnish generously with sumac. 

Notes/Results: The crispness of the vegetables, combined with the softened bread and creamy dressing is good--but, when I make it again I will toast the bread. I felt that the garlic naan I used, although stale, was too soft and I missed that crunch from fattoush I have eaten before. I like the flavors of the cooling mint and yogurt with the tang of the lemon, vinegar and the sumac that is sprinkled on top--very refreshing. It is an easy salad to make--it does take extra prep time if you use the yogurt & milk as I did but very quick if you go with the buttermilk. With the garbanzo beans it is satisfying enough as a light lunch or dinner and it was also nice as a side dish for a piece of salmon, roasted with lemon and dill. I will make it again--with the bread toasted.

This is my entry for I Heart Cooking Clubs "Get Back to Your Roots!" theme. You can check out the root veggie-filled recipes everyone made by following the links.