Archive for July, 2014

Lemony Barley Salad with Kale Pesto, Tomaisins and Israeli Innovation

July 30, 2014

smallbarleykalepestotext

This recipe proves how important one ingredient can be, especially if it is a intensely flavored condiment. I spotted this recipe in the August issue of Food and Wine Magazine and it sounded so good: nubbly barley tossed in a lemony kale pesto dressing.

The recipe said that the addition of chopped preserved lemon was “optional,”  so I left that ingredient out and added in lots of fresh lemon juice. Even with using a whole lemon instead of the measly 1 Tbl. of juice the recipe called for, the salad tasted bland, very, very bland. Mostly, the salad had a strong herbal taste from the kale.

I went down to Sarah’s Tent in Deal, New Jersey to rectify the situation. I came home with a pint of preserved lemon slices, floating in spicy oil. I went straight to the kitchen and pulled out the leftover salad and tried to fix it by adding in the lemon and also some craisins.

The recipe called for currants, but I felt the recipe needed a more acidic dried fruit. Ideally, I would have added in these dried grape tomatoes that my sister-in-law brought back from Israel. They look like giant craisins, but taste like really, really sweet tomatoes. Those would have been perfect in this salad.

Not to digress too much, but these Israeli dried tomatoes are astonishing. My sister-in-law told me that they have no added sugar. They were so super candy sweet that I just didn’t believe her.

I’m still not sure that I believe it, but I looked online and found out that there is something called the Tomaccio, the “sweet raisin tomato.” Bred in Israel from wild Peruvian tomatoes, the Tomaccio is super sweet, so sweet that it turns into something like a raisin when it is dried.  It took Israeli nursery Hishtil twelve years to breed this variety of tomato. Another Israeli company, 2Macho (pronounced the same as Tomaccio?) created another kind of cherry tomato raisin.  And yet another Israeli company, Tomaisin, bred a cherry tomato that dries on the vine and has twice the sweetness of regular tomatoes (see also this).

On top of being really sweet and having a pleasant raisin texture, these tomaisins are supposed to have much more lycopene than regular tomatoes. Yummy and healthy–my favorite combination.

So, anyway, back to the barley salad. I added in the chopped preserved lemon and, WOW! The flavor of the salad went from blah to something that exploded with spicy lemony flavor. This is a salad to serve at a fancy simcha because the colors are beautiful, the texture is very appealing and the flavor is intense.

The recipe for this salad was contributed to Food and Wine by up and coming chef Jessica Koslow, of Sqirl. The key to its success is aggressive seasoning.

Bonus: Someone else found this salad a bit bland without the preserved lemon (“somehow kale plus olive oil and a bit of salt and lemon was just sort of meh.”). Here is how Lynne Ireland jazzed it up.

Another bonus: the preserved lemons I bought were in slices, seasoned with paprika, hot pepper (other spices?) and oil. Here is a similar sounding recipe from chef Shaya Klechevsky.

(more…)

Advertisements

Roasted Cauliflower with Lentils and Dates

July 30, 2014

smallcauliflowerlentiltext

If you want a main dish for the Nine Days that is hearty and filling, but not laden with dairy products, consider this salad. It is packed with super nutritious ingredients like lentils, spinach, tahina, dates, almonds and cauliflower.  It has a small amount of olive oil and only a teaspoon of honey. It feels light because it is a salad, but the lentils, coated with a tahina dressing, give it an almost meaty heft that will leave you completely sated.

It is the kind of unusual and exciting combination of ingredients that I usually associate with an Ottolenghi recipe, but this salad comes from Food and Wine Magazine contributors David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl. David and Luise are a Stockholm-based couple that have a beautiful vegetarian blog called Green Kitchen Stories.

(more…)

Broccoli Rabe Pesto Pasta with Heirloom Grape Tomatoes

July 8, 2014

smallraabpestotextcolor

Pesto made with broccoli rabe is pretty popular and it is also super nutritious. You can serve the pesto as a dip or spread for bread instead of as a sauce for pasta. I followed a recipe from Mario Batali’s Molto Gusto. If you follow the link, you will not only find the recipe, but a clip of Mario demonstrating its preparation along with that of two other pasta recipes (pasta with pureed red peppers and goat cheese and pasta with Swiss chard).

The original recipe called for orecchiette pasta, but I substituted farfalle and added in some heirloom grape tomatoes. Later, I served leftovers as a salad, with the addition of more blanched broccoli rabe and some cannellini beans.

The pesto is exceptionally good. I made twice as much pesto as I needed for the pasta, and I have been enjoying leftovers spread onto challah along with lemon chummus.

(more…)

Mario Batali’s Chilled Tomato and Bread Soup

July 4, 2014

smallchilledtomatosouptext

This recipe is ideal for when it is brutally hot and you just don’t feel like cooking. It is so easy: just puree canned (or fresh) tomatoes with day-old bread, salt, pepper and fresh basil. Swirl in a little olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and scallions and you are done. The complex taste belies the simplicity of the preparation–no one will know you didn’t slave over this.

Don’t expect this to be like gazpacho, which I find to be too spicy and raw onion-ey. This is subtle and mild. The fresh basil absolutely makes this dish, so don’t leave it out.

(more…)

Parshat Balak: Ma Tovu Ohalecha, Yaakov

July 4, 2014

smallparshabalaktextB

“Mah tovu ohalecha, Yaakov, mishkenotecha, Yisrael!” (How goodly are your tents, Yaakov, your dwelling places, Israel!)

The bright spot these past few weeks has been the display of achdut (unity). In this week’s parsha, there appears Bilaam’s famous words about the tents of Yaacov, the dwelling places of Israel.

Why was it that Bilaam was forced to praise the Jewish people in this manner instead of cursing them as he intended? Rashi says that it was because he saw that the openings of the tents did not face each other. This indicated that Bnei Yisroel did wish to look into each others tents. This in turn reflected a sense of unity without jealousy and with respect for individuality and privacy.

(more…)