I was just sitting down to figure out what/how to write about my favorite dish from last Thursday when this little nugget of goodness from Heidi Swanson hit my inbox. Of course, I allowed myself to be distracted by her words and, thus fell in love with life in California all over again, was reminded of how much I miss it, and felt as if she had stolen the words about the recipe you’re about to read right out of my mouth. Give it a peek; I haven’t tried the salad yet but the way she describes her Thanksgiving unfolding is a keeper.
Back to our holiday here in Portland, which we enjoyed on Saturday instead of Thursday, and for which we (oddly) didn’t have to travel to see family but instead, had them arriving to see us. A few of you know by now that I’ve really been missing our own space, my kitchen, my tools, my little systems and (quite possibly) this room in my life where I am in complete control of everything unfolding. I know that being comfortable with this discomfort is a good practice, and so I’ve tried to put myself on better terms with our galley here. I had originally figured that a “turkey day dinner” inspired by Turkey would be witty, fun, and challenge me a bit. This and, I have a few new cookbooks to play with (several mediterranean in focus,) a lot of spices we shipped back from our trip to Istanbul, and plenty of time to plan, and then get in the kitchen and be. As it all shook down, the mediterranean influence on our menu meant far less than the opportunity to literally get into the kitchen to BE there. This in itself was an expression of gratitude for me.
This recipe is from Ottolenghi + Tamimi’s latest -and much acclaimed- book Jerusalem, which was waiting on our doorstep when I returned home from Europe. From the moment I cracked it, I could smell some of the same kaleidoscope of scents and flavors from Istanbul floating from the pages; the vibrant pomegranates, the sweet rose, and the smokey whiffs of toasted chestnuts floating from the street vendors. I’ve made my way through the book as bedtime reading, loving the way the chefs weave together the history, culture and cuisine of this fascinating place and loved (even more) seeing how food traditions and flavors spread across the Middle East, eventually, and in both subtle and undeniable ways, weaving together the cuisines of these two ancient cities. This particularly easy dish was awarded a little blue sticky flag early on in my perusal of the pages, and it just so happens that all the ingredients necessary are prevalent in Portland in late November so it was a shoe-in for our feast.
I feel, with a great degree of certainty that, now that we have this quick salad under our belts, it will be top of mind in these winter months to come (since something warm and roasty, yet still fresh and bright is what we crave.) It’s a whiz to prepare and can be versatile as all get out – we enjoyed it as a side dish for our Thanksgiving feast along with Roasted Quail w/Wild Thyme + Apricots, Spicy + Crunchy Brussel Sprouts, Harissa-Mashed Squash, a nice little butter lettuce salad w/ this pomegranate relish, and these biscuits with Urfa + Flower Pepper in lieu of herbs. (OH! And, of course this pie!)
When you’re preparing, keep in mind that cauliflower works like a sponge soaking up flavors, and will go particularly well with anything sweet or sharp.
So, enjoy this one! And tell me — what is inspiring you in the kitchen this winter? I could use some fun new ideas up here in Portland. Oh! And, if you’re interested in hearing more from Ottolenghi on food, family, and tradition, Kinfolk Magazine did a nice little interview with him this morning. Enjoy! – xo L