Tahini Sauce with Nut Pesto and Pomegranate Seeds

 

tahini

 

 

This combination has it all – tart lemon, crunchy nuts, sweet pomegranate seeds. It’s also chock full of nutrition and it’s versatile. Great over grilled or sauteed fish, grilled chicken or roasted or grilled lamb and even vegetables.  You could serve it as a dip or toss a salad with it.  Pomegranate molasses is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and can be found in specialty food stores or on line.  There’s nothing quite like it, but you can substitute balsamic syrup, made by boiling down balsamic vinegar until it becomes slightly syrupy.  We adapted this from Fine Cooking and demoed it last January. We’re rolling it out again for our September 2015 Mediterranean demos at the US Botanic Garden in honor of its new exhibit from the region. This time, Danielle had the pleasure of making this dish, served on pita bread.

Tahini sauce

6 T tahini (sesame seed paste, available in supermarket health food section)
4 t fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
½ t ground cumin
Kosher salt

For the nut-herb topping

¼ C toasted, finely chopped almonds
¼ C toasted, finely chopped walnuts
¼ C finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. finely chopped red onion
2½  T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh mint
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garnish

¼ C pomegranate arils (see note, above)
2 t pomegranate molasses

Make the tahini sauce

Process the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, ¼ t salt, and 5 T water in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.

Make the nut-herb topping

In a medium bowl, gently toss the almonds, walnuts, cilantro, onion, olive oil, parsley, mint, and pepper flakes with ¼t salt and 1/8 t pepper until well combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve the tahini sauce sprinkled with the nut-herb mixture and topped with pomegranate seeds. Drizzle pomegranate molasses.


Celery Root Salad with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

Celeriac, that unlovely step-sister of the root vegetable family, has not been made more popular in the US celeriac 2merely by bestowing upon her a Downtown Abbey-esque name. In fact, the French term for celery root has been around – even on this side of the pond – well before the advent of television itself. But somehow pragmatic Americans seem to favor the truth of the matter – the baseball-sized , brownish, pock-marked lumps that you find on produce shelves inevitably are labeled just what they are: Celery root. Nomenclature aside, the burgeoning foodie market’s natural curiosity is what’s driving better supermarkets to stock this gnarly winter vegetable.celeriac 4

Cut it open and you get creamy flesh that looks like a turnip and emits the most delectable scent of artichoke, carrot and, yes, celery, which, after all, is what the root nurtures above ground as it grows. Not your conventional celery that bunches and blanches, producing crispy, cucumber-textured stalks that we use in so many ways. Rather, the rougher country cousin of that staple, strong and coarse enough to stay out of most soups and chicken salad concoctions in favor of the compost pile – or feeding the pigs or chickens as we used to do back in the day when Adrienne was raising such in rural Virginia.

And those who do experiment with celery root discover a new favorite – a creamy winter soup using a couple of the bulbous tubers along with its green counterpart and a fat onion, simmered in stock and then pureed with the dairy – or non – of your choice, makes a winter night a joy to weather. Oven-roasting along with whatever strikes your fancy at that moment – or by itself – brings out celeriac’s innate sweetness (yes, the humble vegetable aims to please), and celeriac 5mashed with a handful of potatoes brings a whole new meaning to our beloved “mash,” side dish of choice to elegant winter roasts and rich stews.

But here we are preparing it virginally – the celery root is raw, dressed in an unusual vinaigrette using preserved lemons, pickled in salt for a number of weeks, resulting a smoky, nutty, undefinable “umami” – that elusive fifth estate of the palate which, when experienced, brings it all home in a “Ta daah!” moment. But it doesn’t end there – the preserved lemon (widely available in international grocery stores and increasingly in supermarkets, but if you can’t find it check out this link) is combined with lemon juice, creme fraiche for a swooning creaminess and poppy seeds for subtle texture and beauty, plus walnuts for crunch. The dish is garnished with pomegranate arils for eye candy as much as the lovely little pop of sweetness in the mouth.

So go for it – discover a whole new winter salad. (Found in The Washington Post, originally from the book “A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories,” and adapted here by Adrienne for a demos at Brookside Gardens and the US Botanic Garden January 2015.)

celery root saladCelery Root Salad with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

Make ahead: You can prep all your salad ingredients in advance; store the prepped celery root in a bowl or tub of chilled water with a dash of white vinegar. This will prevent discoloration.

Peel of 1 preserved lemon cut into julienne (very thin strips)
Scant 1 C crème fraîche
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 t minced shallot
1 T poppy seeds
1 C extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

2 baseball-size celeriac, peeled (1-2 pounds total)
1 C walnut halves, toasted
1 C picked celery leaves (from the heart of 1 bunch celery)
½ C celery stalk, sliced very thin on the diagonal (about 2 stalks)
2 t poppy seeds
¾ C fresh pomegranate seeds (arils)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Flaked sea salt, such as Maldon

For the vinaigrette: Combine the preserved lemon peel, crème fraîche, lemon juice, shallot and poppy seeds in a food processor; pulse until the solids are finely chopped. With the motor running, gradually add the oil to form a creamy emulsion.

For the salad: Use a mandolin or sharp knife to shave the celeriac into wide, 1/8-inch-thick slices; Put them in a large bowl, along with the sliced celery root. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Add about three-quarters of the walnuts, crushing some of them with your fingers as you work them in.

Transfer the mixture to a large platter. Garnish with the celery leaves, poppy seeds and pomegranate seeds and remaining walnuts. Serve at room temperature, drizzled with oil and garnished with the flaked salt.


Joyce’s Marinated Kale

kale

 

 

Gathering for Thanksgiving at Danielle’s DC home, several guests recalled this salad, which was not part of this year’s T’G dinner but had appeared at another buffet evening at Danielle’s, last year. It made a big impression and it’s an ideal chaser for the overindulgence of Thanksgiving. Raw kale is slicked with a delicious dressing and allowed to sit at room temperature a couple of hours before serving. Dress it up with nuts and feta as well as the pomegranates, or add fruit — sliced apples or persimmons. The recipe is from our archives — demoed at Brookside and USBG by Adrienne in the fall of 2013. It’s light, delicious and wonderful use of a green that some consider among “the world’s healthiest food.

Recipe serves six.

2 lb fresh young kale or collards, washed
½ C olive oil
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C minced parsley
1 t Dijon-style mustard
1 t honey
2 t dried basil
1 t salt
½ t pepper
pomegranate seeds (optional)

Prepare greens: Remove tough stems and ribs as needed and reserve for another use; slit leaves lengthwise down the middle and stack halves on top of each other. Cut across leaves to produce ribbons. You can also chop leaves roughly. Place ribbonned or chopped leaves in a clean plastic bag and refrigerate. This can be done up to three days in advance.

Prepare dressing: Combine remaining ingredients and beat well or process in a food processor. Store in the refrigerator up to a month.

Finish recipe: Add dressing to prepared collards or kale; mix well and marinate for an hour at room temperature or three hours in the refrigerator, tossing in the bag every hour or so. The flavors are better when the greens are served at room temperature.  Top with pomegranate seeds if desired.



Delicata Squash and Potato Salad

 

Delicatas are the no-peel winter squash.  Just remove the seeds and cook! This terrific salad has it all – incredible flavor, an addictive vinaigrette, fall colors and tastes, high nutrient and low on calories.  At dinner the other night, it was the first thing to go. For a vegan version, just omit the cheese.  Adapted from “Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food” by Sam Mogannam & Dabney Gough.  Serves 4-6. Read More