Thursday, March 24, 2016

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

We lived in Jerusalem for 8 1/2 wonderful years. We ate really well from a wide variety of foods. And yet, we never ate many of the foods found in Jerusalem, the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  When this book first came out, I was very excited. Although I've had it for three years, this is the first time I have cooked from it.  Thanks to I Heart Cooking Clubs for that.  Without the incentive of joining my fellow cooking bloggers, I would probably have enjoyed reading this book without ever actually making any of the dishes.

I chose to make a salad of baby spinach with dates and almonds. Looking through the list of ingredients, it wouldn't have occurred to me that these flavors would work together. The featured spice is sumac. Sumac? What's that? Apparently, it's a Middle Eastern spice that I never used before and is not commonly found in American grocery stores.  I did a quick internet search while standing in the spice aisle to find a suitable substitute. As sumac is often described as lemony and tart, some suggest using lemon zest, others suggest lemon zest with salt, or oregano or just using za'atar alone. I am sure these are all great suggestions, but in the end I remembered that I pass a Mediterranean deli on my way home from work. Problem solved. They had two kinds of sumac, Turkish and Lebanese. I chose the Lebanese. It has a tangy kick to it and it adds a deep red color to your food.

The recipe can be found in the book, Jerusalem, or here. You marinate dates and onions, sauté almonds and pita, and mix it all with baby spinach and other spices. I like that you use a variety of techniques and seasonings to end up with a beautiful salad layered with sweet and tart flavors.
We really enjoyed this salad. My spouse declared it tasty in a strange way, which I believe he meant as a complement. Both of us did finish the whole salad between us and it was only part of the whole dinner.

This week is potluck week at IHCC, so if you head over to here, you will find a wonderful variety of recipes by great chefs.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Aromatic Noodles with Lime-Peanut Sauce

In honor of St. Paddy's Day, it's Green Eating week at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  For this Irish holiday, I chose a dish featuring Asian flavors. Lots of green veggies and pasta are flavored with peanut sauce.  Originally, I was going to make this dish in February for our pasta themed week, but the snow peas and sugar snaps looked rather sad. 
So I waited. One month later, the veggies are green and crisp.  Ellie describes the vegetables as a "refreshing yin to the yang of the rich, spicy peanut sauce." Very true.
I've made many versions of peanut noodles, but this version is really good. The use of natural peanut butter and roasted peanuts give the sauce a deep, nutty flavor that is not too sweet. The addition of veggies make this a meal in a bowl.
The recipe can be found in The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger or on the Food Network website.  You can also find more green eating at IHCC.