pistachio + flower dukkah for midsummer meals

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I recently taught a class to adults about shopping and cooking simple, healthy meals, and at one point we brainstormed “go-to” meals when time, ingredients, and/or funds might be short. And then we upgraded them. Surprising to me, sandwiches made the list and when I asked for clarification, simple sandwiches like PB&J and grilled cheese qualify as a complete dinner meal for some.

I rarely eat sandwiches for dinner anymore but I definitely did in college. Nowadays, sandwiches, whether true to their type or open-faced, frequently make their way into my lunch options when I’m nearly out of leftovers, or need to re-imagine what’s available and quick to eat. Since The Recipe Redux asked for sandwich upgrades this month, I got to reflecting on the myriad ways I make sandwiches interesting by adding simple, flavorful spreads or sprinkles to take a ho-hum quick meal into something spectacular.

 

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Like my last post which was more a meal-component, today’s idea is to make pistachio and flower dukkah and then keep a jar in the fridge to spoon atop sandwiches, toast, pasta, grain salads, or the like. Dukkah is an Egyptian seed/spice blend that packs a lot of flavor, so doing so can really upgrade a meal. Since it’s summer and I’m all about adding edible flowers to just about everything lately, I also amped up the mix even more with dried lavender and golden calendula flowers (which are soo good for glowing, healthy skin.)

In the interest of helping keep your summer sandwiching interesting, I’ve also got a brief list below of other options to pile between your two favorite slices of bread.

 

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a quick lunch with leftovers reimagined: pureed cooked lentils, a drizzle of tahini garlic sauce, roasted vegetables, and pistachio and flower dukkah to top it off.

Spreads:
Muhammara
Spiced Tomato Chutney
All-the-Greens Interchangeable Pesto
Harissa Yogurt
Tahini Garlic Sauce
Beet Hummus
Baba Ghanoush
DIY Whole-Grain Mustard

Specialty Toppings:
Honey-Roasted Rhubarb
Quick-Pickled Onions or Radishes
Apple, Nectarine or Apricot Slices
Roasted Vegetables

 

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Pistachio + Flower Dukkah
, makes about 1 1/4 cups

1/2 cup pistachios
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
2 Tbs. cumin seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1-2 Tbs. various dried flowers, such as lavender, calendula, rose petals, etc.
several pinches each of dried thyme, marjoram, and oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • In a saute pan, toast the pistachios and seeds until fragrant and lightly colored, about five to eight minutes. Then pour onto a plate to cool. Alternatively, if the pistachios are already lightly roasted, add them in at the end of the this step.
  • Once sufficiently cooled, transfer the nuts and seeds to a food processor. Add the herbs, dried flowers, 1/4 tsp. salt to start, and pulse until the mixture is roughly ground but not yet paste-like. The goal is a fine but still crunchy textured mixture. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary, as well as a few pinches of black pepper.

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Sweet + Tangy Quick Pickled-Radishes

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Currently, I’m smack in the middle of a sweet and tangy quick-pickle phase and thin slices of vinegary vegetables have been going on everything. Seriously, everything. Falafel, rainbow salad, beet and lentil flatbreads, as a taco topping, in lieu of salad dressing, on quick grain and lentil leftover jumbles, and even at a super fancy restaurant meal last week for my birthday.

 

I began this phase by pickling a batch of onions but have had radishes in the vegetable bin non-stop since March. Radishes are one of the quickest, easiest, and earliest of spring vegetables to grow and their vibrant parade of reds, pinks, and neon purples have had me purchasing a bunch each week when waiting for my own to grow. I had been tossing them into just about everything and threw a few thin slices into the quick-pickle jar one day. If I ever had enough beets around for long enough, I’d quick-pickle them as well and am planning to hop on over to pickling creamy spring turnips next because all the spring root vegetables and a jar of slightly sweetly spiced vinegar is a quick and definite thing!

 

Have I convinced you yet?  If not, come on over and I’ll hand you a jar and fork and change your mind forever. But please, don’t even think about smelling my breath–It’s vinegary!

 

The Recipe Redux challenged us to a DIY recipe this month and I’m especilly excited about these quick-pickles because William has gotten on board and he is was not a pickled-anything fan. They are super easy to make and can liven up almost any sort of dish (I’m making fava burgers next–you better believe these are going all up on them!) If you’ve got a few minutes, some sort of vegetable (of the root variety preferred) and vinegar, you’ve got yourself quick-pickles.

 

Okay, I’ll stop chattering now. But only because I’ve got another batch of these to make.

 

For a whole host of other DIY recipes like pizza/pasta sauce version I or version II, an assortment of flavorful dressings, infused oil, vinegar (!), and a must-try pot of creamy black beans, etc., check out the recipe page–I’ve updated it.

 

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Quick-Pickled Radishes

1 1/2 cups apple cider or rice vinegar

3 Tbs. sugar

2 tsp. salt

1-2 bay leaves

3 whole cloves

4 black peppercorns

1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced

  • Pour  all the ingredients save the radishes into a medium-size pot and stir to dissolve salt and sugar while bringing to a boil.
  • Once the liquid boils, remove from heat and toss in the radish slices.
  • Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a jar and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until you are ready to eat. They should last for up to a week, if not used right away.

 

DIY–Whole Grain Mustard

Sometimes we take for granted. We forget that much of our life has been built around convenience–helping us to speed ever faster forward, but perhaps enjoying neither the direction nor the journey itself.  Take mustard for instance.  Prior to learning to make my own (and being surprised how simple it is!) I’d never even thought about the process.  But the jar of fancy French Dijon or Spicy Brown that I reach for on a frequent basis is really a jar containing few ingredients that can be easily made myself.  It makes me wonder.  What else, in our quest for newer/better/faster have we lost?

At home, over the 4th of July, we had a breakfast with my family and our neighbors, my long-time friend, K’s family.  I made a tart–a recipe I will make here–out of homemade mascarpone cheese.  It was so easy.  My dad and K’s dad discussed how both their generation and ours have lost the knowledge of thrift and resourcefulness.  For instance,  I had an excess of heavy cream sitting around that I didn’t know what to do with.  So I made cheese.  The fancy kind of cream cheese that costs more in the grocery store.  There were two ingredients and it barely took any time.  I think I’m on to something!

So why have we lost the ability to know about these types of things?  It’s simple–or rather, really complicated.  It’s the 21st Century, baby.  We’re moving forward!  So should we all go back to the days where we grind our own mustard seeds (in a pepper mill here), and make our own cheese?  Perhaps not.  Though knowing that we can–or how to be resourceful to prevent waste–may prove useful.  After all, we may only be a generation or two away from our children having no thought as to how or where their food is produced.

Wholegrain Mustard, adapted from Forgotten Skills of Cooking
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tbs. yellow mustard seeds
2 Tbs. brown mustard seeds
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. salt
  • Pour the white wine vinegar over the yellow mustard seeds and leave to soak for 3-5 days.  You may have to periodically add more vinegar so the seeds are covered.  (The longer this sits, the hotter the mustard will be).
  • When it is finished soaking, use a food processor to roughly grind the yellow seeds.  Then grind the brown seeds into a fine powder using a spice mill, mortar and pestle, or as a last resort, a pepper mill.  Mix the two mustards together with the remaining white wine vinegar, honey, and salt.
  • Alternatively, if you have a magic bullet or the like, skip the spice mill step, and throw the yellow seed mixture and the remaining ingredients into the blender with the flat blade, and after a few seconds, your mustard is done!
  • Fill into small glass jars.  Cover and store in a cool, dry place.

A recipe to use the mustard with (a lovely, summer salad) coming soon!