The gourmet grocer near our house was having a special on kale yesterday….so I bought four bunches, and will probably go back tomorrow to get a couple more. Derek doesn’t even flinch anymore when I come home from the store with my arms filled with greens; we’ve really come to enjoy the habit of eating big, hearty salads with lots of leafy greens for dinner. And, whatever we don’t finish ends up being the next days’ breakfast sammy filling, or a tasty, quick lunch as we stand over the island in the kitchen, catching our breath during a busy workday.
We didn’t resolve to eat healthier, or eat more greens in this house when the calendar clicked over to 2014 – we eat this way, really, out of laziness. There just isn’t anything easier than throwing together a big, one-bowl salad! I’m do recall that we weren’t always this enthusiastic about “Big Salad for Dinner;” in fact it used to be a kind of sad, sick joke because the salad was always the same. And dinner was so boring, and not very delicious….in fact it always tasted a bit like ranch dressing. 🙂 These days, though, we’ve become quite good at “the same but different;” there’s always a lot of greens (spinach, kale, arugula). and there’s always some protein (grilled chicken, roasted chickpeas, gigande beans, or even personally poached eggs.) There’s a grain/starch (usually quinoa, homemade croutons w/our day old bread, pasta, barley, you get the picture,) and a selection of seasonal veggies. The thing that is ALWAYS the same is that those extra veggies are seasonal so we go through phases; the Delicata-Kale Salad phase, the Escalavida Salad phase. I received a little jar of dukkah from a good friend who knows its my favorite and these past weeks we’ve been going through a Dukkah Salad phase, where this spicy Middle-Eastern inspired nut + spice blend is shaken into all of our salads to add a little spice, crunch and texture. When we ran out, I just had to make more.
This was not my first run in with Dukkah; I first made a batch of this a few years ago and really enjoyed it, but had some Turkish spices left over that I wanted to employ and so this – my own spicy little dukkah recipe – came to be.
Dukkah (which actually means, “to crush” in colloquial Egyptian) is typically eaten with flatbread dipped in olive oil; first you dip the bread in olive oil, then you dip it in dukkah and EAT! In this house we eat it the traditional way (in addition to sprinkling over salads, of course) but also put it out with cheese platters, sprinkle it over chicken or fish before grilling, over eggs, in sauteed greens, over rice bowls, pastas, soups, and anywhere we might want a little extra spicy crunch.
There are literally just as many ways to make dukkah as there are people who make dukkah, and this way is mine; its an earthy, fragrant, slightly spicy take on the tradition. You’ll notice I use baharat – a spice blend brought back from our travels to Turkey last summer. If you can’t hunt down baharat, another middle eastern spice blend like harissa, or ras al hanout would be interesting. Likewise with the hazelnuts, or even the seeds; almonds, pistachios, black sesame seeds, coriander, and even cumin seed all could hold a place in a spicy mix all your own. I encourage you to use this recipe as a starting place and play with flavors till your hearts content! Enjoy! x0 -L