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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Zucchini Toasts, Cashew Ricotta + Dukkah

Zucchini Toasts, Cashew Ricotta + Dukkah

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Sometimes, I’m surprised to realize how long ago I began this blog. It began as a little project to collect thoughts and share recipes shortly after I graduated with my undergrad degree, an entire six years ago. Much has changed since then, both on the blog and in life, but one thing that has stayed the same is my fervent and on-going affinity for the freshest, most-local, seasonal produce. Though there is a slightly deeper reason for this than simply liking vegetables, I’ll save that topic for another day. Instead, today’s post is for The Recipe Redux and the theme is Fresh From the Garden Produce.

Thanks to my mother who has the greenest of thumb(s), I was privy to garden produce from the very beginning. What came along with the garden were numerous lists of chores, which inevitably were put off until the heat of the day and the fear of not having them done when my parents got home were at their peak. The worst chore was picking green beans and I never have particularly cared for them, possibly as a result of being haunted by memories of spending “hours” picking in the hot sun. Realistically, I’m betting my attention span was less than 30 minutes.

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The best of chores was devouring the hourds of zucchini that came from our garden. We often ate them in two ways; one in a variation of this cream of zucchini soup (which I soon shall be giving a facelift for less dairy and gluten), and two, drenched in flour and egg and fried to crispy golden french-toast-like rounds. Every person in the family loved these meals, and to my recollection we all loved zucchini in general. Since my parents had the joy of raising three hot-headed, disagreeing, and violent-toward-each-other, orange-haired children, it’s a wonder that we all could agree on anything!

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To this day, I absolutely love zucchini. It is the simplest of plants to grow and goes every which way into summer meals. Lately, I’ve been grilling it up on the stovetop grill with a coating of dukkah, spooning it atop toasts spread with a cashew ricotta, and watching it disappear faster than my plants will produce. (Crazily enough, this is possible.)

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Zucchini Toasts, Cashew Ricotta + Dukkah, serves 2

If you go ahead and pick up store-bought staples like bread and dairy-based ricotta, and make or buy the dukkah ahead of time, these toasts make for a very quick and simple meal. If you like to do everything or prefer a vegan ricotta, I’ve included recipes for all the fixings below. Dukkah is one of those super-easy-to-make seedy, nutty, spice mixtures that packs a serious punch in the flavor department and amps up the flavor profile of simple meals. It is Egyptian in origin and a suitable (although certainly different) substitute in this recipe could be za’atar, if you have that on hand instead. This book is my favorite source for truly great gluten-free bread. I made the 100% Whole-Grain Batons for these toasts and their slightly heftier density and crust worked out perfectly.

Cashew Ricotta, see below

2 Tbs. Dukkah, recipe below

1-2 Tbs. whole-grain or dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. salt

2 medium zucchini, chopped into smallish squares

1-2 tsp. olive or coconut oil

4 slices whole-grain bread (a denser, baguette type works particularly great)

additonal dukkah to coat zucchini and serve

  • Mix the 2 Tbs. dukkah, mustard, and salt into the ricotta. Set aside.
  • Toss the chopped zucchini with a spoonful or two of additional dukkah and oil. Grill on a stovetop grill until slightly soft and charred edges begin to form, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from grill.
  • While zucchini is grilling, lightly toast the bread slices and then slather a bit of the ricotta mixture atop each one.
  • Then, pile zucchini atop the toast and ricotta, sprinkle a dash of additional dukkah on top, and serve.

Cashew Ricotta

1 cup cashew milk (or any other non-dairy milk)

1/4-1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

pinch of salt

3/4 tsp. agar powder

  • In a medium saucepan, stir together all ingredients.
  • Very slowly, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for five minutes or until agar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and cool for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer to a sealed container and place in fridge until set, a few hours.
  • After the mixture is set, transfer it to a food processor and pulse until you get the desired consistency.

Dukkah, adapted only slightly from Vegetable Literacy

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup coriander seeds

2 Tbs. cumin seeds

1 tsp. fennel seeds

several pinches each of dried thyme, marjoram, and oregano

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • In a saute pan, toast the hazelnuts and seeds until fragrant and lightly colored, about five to eight minutes. Then pour onto a plate to cool.
  • Once sufficiently cooled, transfer the nuts and seeds to a food processor. Add the herbs, 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.

Turkey Sandwich with Carrots, Kale and Dukkah

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Back when I ate gluten and cheese, sandwiches made their way into my life every day. Sometimes more than once. I don’t mean I ate a normal PB&J or ham and cheese. Instead, a cheesey-gooey Tex-Mex, PB & Apricot-Apple with Spinach, Curry Chicken & Apple, Roasted Beets, Hummus & Turkey, or Cranberry Pear Peanut Butter spanned the norm of my sandwich creations. I was obsessed with perfecting my homemade whole wheat bread recipe, and I frequently brought loaves home from my bakery job. My then-roommates regularly commented that, for sandwiches, mine were abnormallybeautiful. With a roomate that worked at a bakery gig, they ate their fair share as well.

Fast forward a few years and I rarely eat a sandwich. If I hadn’t had to forego the gluten, it is safe to say they never would have escaped from my daily ritual!

It just so happens that a dear friend gifted an awesome cookbook to me last year and periodically, when I need a homemade bread and sandwich fix, I bake up a loaf. One such baking episode and a haphazard collection of lonely ingredients in the fridge resulted in this amazing combination for lunch.

In a hurry to get out the door one morning, I pilfered through, came up with kale, carrots and the last bit of sliced turkey. I threw the kale and carrots in a dish and tossed in dukkah for good measure, spread the mustard on the turkey, and packed the bread separately.

Later, I put the whole-shebang together at work.  Holy-moly, I couldn’t believe my tastebuds! We are back in the sandwich-making business.

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First, start with good bread. Make it yourself. Or find a nice bakery. Barter with your neighbor. Please, don’t waste your time with store-bought sliced bread.

 

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Then, smear and sprinkle on a thin layer of dijon mustard and dukkah spice mixture to each slice.

 

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Lay down a thickish layer of the best turkey you can find.

 

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Pile on equal parts chopped kale and shredded carrots.

 

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Carefully sandwich the two pieces of bread together. Slice it in half and eat.

 

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When finished, I completely condone licking your plate clean. :)

 

Turkey Sandwich with Carrots, Kale and Dukkah, makes 1
 
Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mixture with coriander, cumin, and sesame seeds shining through. There are countless recipes for it across the interwebs. I used Deborah Madison’s recipe from Vegetable Literacy. You can also purchase the mixture at Trader Joe’s or other well-stocked grocery stores. 
 
2 slices bread of your choice
dijon mustard
1-2 tsp. Dukkah
2-3 oz. low-sodium deli or leftover roasted turkey
1/2 large carr0t, shredded
1/2-1 cup shredded kale