Pomegranates are just coming into season. Cucumbers are just beginning to finish their season as we pass from summer to fall. From last year, here's a recipe to marry the two into one luscious salad.
Pomegranates & Pine Nuts by Bethany Kehdy appeared in 2013. It was a dashing proponent for recipes from the Middle East, featuring Lebanese, Moroccan and Persian dishes. And it remains a leading book for these cuisines. You might say this book ages gracefully, but I suspect it will forever thrive. The recipes are lively, popping with flavor. Pomegranates & Pine Nuts is notable both for thoserecipes and the amazing photographs that entice you to the kitchen. These recipes may not be familiar when you start cooking from the book, but you will want to include many of them in your personal portfolio.
This recipe is typical of the simple yet surprising fare in store for you. From October through February it is pomegranate season. Here that intense red fruit is combined with pine nuts, chickpeas, mint, chives and cheese. The ingredients are simple, the combination is fascinating. This can be a perfect side dish for smoky eggplant or perhaps some lamb kebobs. It would marry with salmon any night of the week.
Or, with some terrific bread, this salad is a meal unto itself.
Pomegranate & Cucumber Salad
Yield: serves 4
1 long cucumber or 4 short Middle Eastern cucumbers
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender, or 1 can (15-oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Zest of ½ orange
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoons finely snipped chives
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons verjuice, or lime juice to taste
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Warm thin flatbread for serving on the side, optional
Peel the cucumber(s), then use a mandolin or a vegetable peeler to slice them lengthwise into thin ribbons.
Toast the pine nuts in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat 1 to 2 minutes until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan often.
Put the cucumber ribbons, pomegranate seeds, chickpeas, orange zest, mint, chives and pine nuts in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss gently.
To make the dressing, put the olive oil and verjuice in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Sprinkle the salad with feta, drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately with warm Thin Flatbread.
Source: Pomegranates & Pine Nuts by Bethany Kehdy [Nourish, 2013]
It’s fall and for many families the Jewish holidays mingle their scents with the falling leaves. Jayne Cohen is an expert in Jewish food and gave us the gift of Jewish Holiday Cooking in 2008. At almost 600 pages, it is the definitive guide to these important dates. There are over 200 recipes here: some classics and some Jayne’s happy improvisations.
Actually there is more than recipes here. The story of each holiday is presented with tips for preparing in advance, cooking, and then enjoying each feast. I suppose, outside of China perhaps, this is the oldest cuisine in continuous use for over three thousand years.
The major holidays are here with a chapter devoted to each:
And a chapter for the weekly Sabbath, too
There are standard recipes here. Everyone has, I hope, enjoyed the wonder of Challah. But there are dozens of recipes here, with origins throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, that offer holiday temptation and joy. Consider these the variation in these fifteen:
Onion Challah [for a twist, pun intended]
Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas and Saffron-Lime Aioli
Chicken Paprikash with Dumplings
Leek Croquettes from Rhodes
Egyptian Ground Fish Balls with Tomato and Cumin
Roast Duck Breasts with Quince, Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce
Hungarian Plum Tart
Tangy Russian Cabbage Soup with Pot Roast-Beet Kreplach
Romanian Garlicky Ground Meet Sausage with Sour Pickle Vinaigrette and Roasted Red Peppers
Italian Apple Fritters
Black Grape, Goat Cheese, and Noodle Latkes with Fragrant Honey
Veronese Rolled Turkey Loaf
Moroccan-Flavored Brisket with Dried Apricots and Prunes
Italian Carrot-Pecan Torta
As they have migrated, or wandered, Jews have kept their traditions but found ways to integrate the techniques and ingredients of the new lands they settled in. For the most part these are not rich foods in the sense of having expensive ingredients. These are rich foods in the flavors that have been honed for centuries. There is always special pleasure in sitting and feasting at a holiday flavor. The dishes in Jewish Holiday Cooking will amplify that flavor for you. Whether you are Jewish and celebrating one of these special days or just someone looking for “new” things, the “old” and “new” recipes here will give you endless satisfaction.
If you love honey and fruit, or potato pancakes, or a steaming knish, or Moroccan spices, there are ideas her to savor and treasure. You can use this book for the holidays, of course, but the delights here will please you year round.
In Paleo: Monday to Friday author Daniel Green provides an excellent discussion of the Paleo concept: what it is, what you can eat, what you should not. His concept is to follow the Paleo path on the weekdays. Weekends are up to you. There are, it turns out, enough intriguing recipes that you may run the table with this book 7 days a week.
In the fall, butternut squash is rolling off the shelves of each farmers market. It’s an incredible, versatile food. Here is main course idea that begins with squash but incorporates onion, zucchini, ginger, coconut milk and spinach. It’s a fall splash of flavors that you can enjoy any night of the week. Any night.
Butternut Squash Curry
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
4 zucchini, sliced lengthways, then quartered
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 x 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
7 ounces [about 5 cups] fresh spinach
Handful of cilantro, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the butternut squash in a roasting pan, drizzle with a tablespoon of oil, and toss to coat, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat and cook the onion for 2 minutes until translucent. Add the zucchini and cook for an additional 3 minutes, then lower the heat to medium, add the butternut squash, stir together and cook for a few more minutes.
Add the curry paste and ginger and stir to coat, then add the coconut milk and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.
Add the spinach, stir and cook for an additional few minutes, then garnish with a sprinkling of cilantro and serve immediately.
Source: Paleo, Monday to Friday by Daniel Green Kyle, 2015]