Charmoula-Spiced Salmon with Za’atar Roasted Vegetables

I am always thrilled to make a healthy and flavorful dish that incorporates TONS of vegetables from my CSA share. This recipe seemed to be created for the box I had just received which contained kohlrabi, baby bok choy, parsley, and cilantro. This dish was loaded with wonderful spices as well. It truly was one of the best salmon dishes I’ve ever prepared.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chef Jared Wentworth of Chicago’s Longman & Eagle. I used one large piece of salmon instead of fillets, grilled the fish instead of pan-cooking, modified the oven temperature, used potatoes and kohlrabi instead of beets, whole carrots instead of baby carrots, and modified the proportions in the sauce. It was beyond delicious!

For the Roasted Vegetables:
  • 1/2 pound red potatoes (5) or baby golden beets, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1-2 kohlrabi, peeled and cut into medium-pieces (I used 1 1/2)
  • 3 large carrots, halved lengthwise and quartered
  • 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound baby bok choy, chopped into ribbons (I used 9 heads)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Charmoula
:
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Salmon:
  • 1 1/3 pound whole wild salmon fillet (or four 5- to 6-ounce salmon fillets)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional (I omitted it)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
To Make the Vegetables:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°, preferably on convection roast.
  2. On two large rimmed baking sheets, toss the beets or potatoes, kohlrabi, carrots and mushrooms with the olive oil and za’atar and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Immediately transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and fold in the bok choy until just wilted.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

To Make the Charmoula:

  1. In a food processor, combine everything except the salt and pepper and puree until nearly smooth. (I used a mini-food processor.)
  2. Scrape into a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.

To Make the Salmon:

  1. Season the fish with coarse salt and black pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the ground coriander and cumin with the paprika and crushed red pepper. Season the salmon with the spice mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat a grill set to moderate heat.
  4. Place the fish on the hot grill skin side down and press gently with a spatula to flatten. Cook the fish over moderate heat until the skin is golden, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Flip the fish and cook until medium within, about 3 minutes longer.
  6. Serve the fish topped with charmoula over the roasted vegetables. Serve extra charmoula on the side, as desired.

Note: The charmoula can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Grilled Swordfish with Za’atar Salsa Verde

I love a fresh herb sauce. This Middle Eastern variation on a classic salsa verde brightened up the grilled fish. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with sautéed collard greens and green kale on the side.

This dish was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Alon Shaya. I used homemade za’atar. I also used swordfish in lieu of red snapper, grilling instead of broiling, and modified the proportions in the salsa verde. Healthy and tasty. 🙂

Yield: Serves 2

  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 2 6-ounce swordfish steaks, patted dry
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ⅓ cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup loosely packed parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated or chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoons za’atar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  1. Toast pine nuts in a 400 degree oven (I used a toaster oven.) or a dry small skillet over medium-low heat, tossing often, until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool. Coarsely chop, if desired.
  2. Heat a gas grill or broiler. Season fish with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with coriander.
  3. Drizzle 1 T oil onto one side of the fish, flip and repeat on the opposite side. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill fish until cooked through, about 3-4 min per side for a 1″ thick steak. (Alternatively, place fish on a small rimmed baking sheet and broil until cooked through, about 8–10 minutes.)
  5. Meanwhile, mix together cilantro, parsley, garlic, za’atar, red pepper flakes, and remaining 4 T olive oil in a mini food processor or small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Stir lemon juice and pine nuts into salsa verde and spoon over fish.

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Persian Split Pea & Rice Soup with Meatballs (Ash)

This stew-like soup, traditionally called “ash” in Persian cooking, had a wonderful and unique flavor profile. It was loaded with fresh herbs which added lightness and brightness to what would otherwise be a heavy soup. I also added fresh lemon juice which contributed to the brightness.

This recipe was adapted from cookbook author Naomi Duguid, via Food and Wine. I don’t typically eat lamb and my husband is not partial to mint, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly by using ground turkey and dried thyme. I was unable to track down pomegranate molasses (discontinued at Trader Joe’s! :/ ), so I used balsamic vinegar in its place. Very hearty, healthy, and tasty. 🙂

I’m sharing my dish at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #157 this week co-hosted by Andrea @Cooking with a Wallflower and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living. Enjoy!

For the Soup:

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 cup short-grain white rice (I used arborio rice)
  • 3/4 cup dried green split peas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 cups finely chopped parsley leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 2 cups finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves (I omitted the mint)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or aged balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
  • coarse salt
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 small yellow onion, grated
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb or turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Crispy Onion Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • generous pinch of dried thyme or mint
  1. Make the Soup: In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, cinnamon and turmeric and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is beginning to soften, 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rice, split peas and 10 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice and peas are tender and the soup is quite thick, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Add the scallions, parsley, cilantro and mint and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in the pomegranate molasses/balsamic vinegar and season with salt.
  6. Make the meatballs: In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients.
  7. Roll rounded teaspoons of the ground meat into balls.
  8. Add the meatballs to the soup and simmer until cooked through, 10 minutes. If the soup is getting too thick, add water.
  9. Meanwhile, Make the Toppings: In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil.
  10. Add the dried thyme or mint and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Scrape the herb oil into a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
  11. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil in the skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until golden and crisp, 8 minutes; drain.
  12. Serve the soup garnished with the herb oil, fried onions, and additional fresh herbs, as desired.

Note: The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and reheated gently before serving. Add the meatballs and simmer 10 minutes before serving.

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Brown Butter Pecan Pie with Espresso Dates

This special pecan pie was less sweet and more earthy than a typical pecan pie. It originates from Sofra Bakery & Cafe in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The bakery is known for blending American and Middle Eastern flavors. Browned butter, dates, espresso… amazing.

The sweetness in the pie is from a combination of Medjool dates and Lyle’s Golden Syrup, an ingredient I’ve been wanting to use. Although my mom said she prefers a more traditional pecan pie, my brother absolutely loved it. The recipe is from Food and Wine, adapted from the Soframiz cookbook by Maura Kilpatrick and Ana Sortun. We ate it topped with a choice of whipped cream or ice cream on Thanksgiving Eve with leftovers on Thanksgiving Day. 🙂

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
  • ice water

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups pecan halves (7 ounces)
  • 1/2 pound Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons brewed espresso or strong coffee
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Make the Pie Crust:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse until the dough is evenly moistened. Gradually add more water if needed.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a work surface and knead 2 to 3 times, just until it comes together.
  5. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  6. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round; transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold the edge of the dough under itself and crimp the edge.
  7. Freeze the piecrust for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Par-Bake the Pie Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
  2. Line the piecrust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edge.
  3. Remove the paper and weights and bake until the bottom is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

To Finish the Pie:

  1. After the crust has par-baked, reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
  2. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
  3. In a small skillet, cook the dates in the brewed espresso over moderate heat, stirring, until very soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and wipe out the skillet.
  4. Add the butter to the pan and cook over moderate heat, swirling, until the milk solids turn a deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the golden syrup, espresso powder and salt.
  6. Whisk in the eggs, then gradually whisk in the brown butter until the filling is smooth.
  7. Set the pie plate on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet.
  8. Spread the espresso dates in the crust and scatter the pecans on top.
  9. Pour the filling over the pecans.
  10. Cover the edge of the crust with a pie shield to prevent over browning.
  11. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the filling is set around the edge and slightly jiggly in the center. (Check earlier to prevent over-browning,)
  12. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely.
  13. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, as desired.

Note: The pecan pie can be covered and kept at room temperature for 3 days. The unbaked piecrust can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for 1 month.

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Harissa Marinade

This second belated grilling post I would like to share is a marinade which is simple to make and fabulously full-flavored. It’s hard to ask for more! 🙂

The first time I prepared it was for a farewell party for friends moving to Florida. I marinated chicken thighs and grilled them cubed, on skewers, so that it would be easier to eat them without sitting down. We served them alongside Palestinian Chicken skewers, using one of my all-time favorite marinades.

The second time, I marinated whole chicken tenders. Even easier! 🙂 Just as delicious too. This recipe was adapted from Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomon and Steven Cook. In both cases, I served the grilled chicken with Tzatziki.

  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped yellow onions (I used 2 medium)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup harissa (I used Whole Foods powdered harissa)
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken tenderloins
  • bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 to 6o minutes
  • tzatziki, for serving, as desired (link above)
  1. Combine the ingredients in a blender or Vitamix.
  2. Puree until the mixture is smooth and as thick as a milkshake.
  3. Toss 2 pounds of skinless, boneless, chicken thighs cut into 1-inch chunks with the marinade in a 1-gallon ziplock bag.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or for up to 2 days.
  5. When ready to grill, wipe off the excess marinade, thread the chicken pieces on prepared skewers.
  6. Grill over direct heat until the chicken is lightly charred on the exterior and is cooked through, about 8 minutes total.
  7. Serve with tzatziki, as desired.

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Watermelon Salads

My kids and I love summer watermelon. We usually just chomp on slices of it at the beach, but I recently incorporated it into two refreshing summer side salads.

The first was an adaptation of the classic Middle Eastern Tabouli Salad substituting watermelon for tomatoes. What a great idea! 🙂 The second was another classic Middle Eastern way of serving watermelon- with feta and basil. I made it for a party and was unable to capture it in a photo. You can (will have to!) imagine how pretty it looked. I had been unaware of how wonderful watermelon pairs with feta cheese- so simple and tasty.

The tabbouleh recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living and the watermelon-feta salad recipe was adapted from Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. Fresh, seasonal and delicious.

Tabbouleh with Watermelon

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat (I used coarse red bulgur)
  • 1 1/2 to 3+ cups peeled and coarsely chopped watermelon
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces soft goat or feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Bring water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in bulgur, and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and let stand, uncovered, until cooled, 15 to 30 minutes. (I spread the cooked bulgur out on a rimmed baking sheet to speed the cooling process.)
  2. Transfer bulgur to a bowl, and toss with watermelon, parsley, scallions, oil, lemon zest and juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Gently fold in cheese. Serve.

Watermelon, Basil & Feta Salad

Yield: Serves 4

  • 10 oz block feta (preferable sheep’s milk)
  • 4 to 5 cups of large-dice watermelon cubes
  • 3/4 cups basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  1. Slice the feta into large but thin pieces, or just break it by hand into rough chunks.
  2. Arrange all of the ingredients, except for the olive oil, on a platter or bowl, mixing them up a little.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the top and serve immediately.

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Ottolenghi’s Deconstructed Baba Ghanouj

This is the final part of our amazing Middle Eastern feast that I would like to share with you. Even though baba ghanouj is typically an appetizer, we really could have eaten this dish as a complete meal! We gobbled it up with warm naan.  Our spread was complete with grilled chicken thighs, Tomato and Pomegranate Salad, Hummus, and Baked Rice. SO so SO good.

This recipe was adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi via The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I used 3 eggplants and charred them on a gas grill. I loved the use of fresh oregano as a garnish because my home-grown oregano has completely taken over my herb garden! 😉

  • 3 large eggplants, approximately 2-3 pounds
  • flaky sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 2 plum tomatoes, roughly grated
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • warm naan, for serving
  1. Char the eggplant. Prick surface of the eggplant in multiple places with a fork to release steam when cooking. To cook on a stove, place each eggplant directly over an open medium flame, and cook for 15 or 20 minutes, using tongs to turn the eggplant a number of times, until the skin is charred all over and the flesh is soft and smoky. To cook on a gas or charcoal grill, place the eggplants on the grill, and cook over medium-high heat, using tongs to turn the eggplant until the skin is charred all over and the flesh is completely soft and smoky.
  2. Remove the eggplants from the heat, and place on a rack to cool and drain, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel away the skin, leaving the stalks intact, and place them on a large plate.
  3. Using your fingers, coax each eggplant into a fan shape, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and drizzle with a tablespoon of tahini.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the grated tomato in a medium bowl with the garlic, oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Spoon the mixture over the eggplants and tahini, leaving some of the eggplant visible, and then sprinkle with the oregano leaves and a final dusting of salt.
  5. Serve with warm naan.

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