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Curried Chicken Salad

by Lydia Whitlock — May 2nd, 2016

Here’s the deal with curry powder -- it’s not technically a spice. It’s a spice blend, which varies from location to location, depending on the specific tastes of the people making it. Some curry powder is bland and flat. Fortunately, Vanns Mild Curry Powder is blended in small weekly batches, keeping the flavors of the ground turmeric and cumin that make up some of its ingredients as fresh as possible. It also has just the perfect moderate amount of heat to it, but if you’re a spice fiend like me, go for the Hot Curry Powder instead!

Either way, curry powder really shines in this Curried Chicken Salad, which is just right on a warm day when you want something cooling and flavorful with a little punch of spice. Rather than the traditional mayonnaise-based salad, the recipe below uses mostly yogurt with a little mayo added for flavor and texture, drastically reducing the fat content of the recipe. And curry flavors and yogurt are meant to be together -- just think of how great an Indian curry is when topped with a creamy yogurt raita.

This salad also incorporates some currants plumped in red wine vinegar, for a little punch of sweet and sour, some crunchy celery for texture, and a little honey in the sauce for sweetness. It’s all finished off with some sliced scallions, which add that perfect amount of green, onion-y flavor. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

Serves 6. 


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Zahtar Spiced Popcorn

by Lydia Whitlock — May 2nd, 2016

Popcorn is one of the easiest snacks you can make for yourself at home -- even the non-microwave kind! But I find it can get a little monotonous in flavor with just melted butter and salt involved.

Once I've stood over the pan, shaking it patiently until all the kernels are popped but none of them have burned, I want it to taste a little more special, a little elevated from what I can get in a movie theater.

Zahtar Spiced Popcorn

Enter Zahtar, the Middle Eastern spice blend that's heavy on the dried thyme and sesame seeds, with a punch of sour brightness from sumac. It's the perfect thing to toss in with popcorn -- the herbs work nicely with the crunch of the corn, the sesame adds extra texture, and the sumac keeps things interesting. Give it a try and mix up your popcorn routine, or start a new one!

 

 

INGREDIENTS

PREPARATION

  1. Pop the popcorn kernels with whatever method you prefer -- you should end up with about 8 cups of popped kernels. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, drizzle the popcorn with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil at a time, tossing with your hands in between drizzles. Sprinkle with zahtar and toss to coat evenly. Add kosher salt to taste and serve. It’s best eaten the same day, but you can store the popcorn overnight in a sealed bag or container.

Makes 8 cups. Adapted from Serious Eats.

 


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Smoky, Spicy Black Bean Soup with Braised Chicken

by Lydia Whitlock — May 2nd, 2016

It’s starting to feel like real springtime weather these days -- cool in the mornings and evenings, warm during the day, weather that sometimes makes it hard to know what to eat. A cool, refreshing, summery salad or a comforting, warming wintery stew?

I think this recipe is the best of both worlds. Black beans and chicken gently braise with a mixture of the spices commonly found in chorizo to yield something with deep, delicious flavor and a nice pop of spice. On top is a hit of freshness -- cilantro leaves, sliced scallion greens, serrano chiles, avocado, lime juice, and a dollop of sour cream.

Smoky, Spicy Black Bean Soup with Braised Chicken

 It’s enough to keep you warm on a cool spring night, with flavors that will knock the final dregs of those winter blues right out of sight.

 

INGREDIENTS

PREPARATION

  1. The day before you plan to make the soup, soak the beans. Place the dried beans in a large bowl with 3 Tbs. of kosher salt and cover with about 1 gallon of water, stirring until salt is dissolved. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.
  2. The next day, make the spice blend. In a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or clean coffee grinder, combine the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, ground cinnamon, oregano, thyme, granulated garlic, ½ tsp. Kosher salt, peppercorns, chile powder or and cayenne, smoked paprika, and chipotle powder and process until evenly ground. Set aside.
  3. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and brown on both sides. You may want to brown the chicken in two batches to prevent crowding. Remove the chicken and place on a large plate. While the chicken cooks, drain and rinse the beans, and measure the stock so it’s ready to go.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and add the scallion whites, garlic, and chopped serrano to the pot. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pot as you go.
  5. Add the spice mixture to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring frequently, so spices do not burn.
  6. Add broth to pot and stir to combine with spice mixture. Add the beans and bay leaves and stir to combine, scraping up more brown bits from the bottom of the pot if needed. Place the chicken thighs into the pot, nestling them into the beans, and pour in any juices that have collected on the plate.
  7. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Cook until beans and chicken are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Remove and discard bay leaves. Using tongs, remove chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Discard skins.
  9. While chicken cools, ladle 2 cups of beans and broth into a blender and puree until smooth. Stir back into soup. Repeat process to further thicken soup if desired.
  10. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred with two forks or with your fingers. Discard bones and stir shredded chicken back into soup. Serve with cilantro, sliced scallions greens, sliced serrano chiles, avocado slices, sour cream, and lime wedges.

Serves 6-8. Adapted from Serious Eats.


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Chickpea Salad With Red Onion, Sumac, & Lemon

by Lydia Whitlock — May 2nd, 2016

Have you ever heard of sumac? If you live in the American South, you may think of it as a weed. But hopefully after making this recipe, you will now think of it as a delicious weed.

Sumac is a plant that produces a reddish fruit called a “drupe.” A drupe is a category of fruit that also includes stone fruit such as peaches and plums. The drupe of certain varieties of sumac plant are dried and ground into a powder, which is used throughout the Middle East to give food an awesomely sour, bright, lemony flavor.

Chickpea Salad

But it’s not quite lemon - it really is in a league of its own. It’s an incredibly versatile spice that can be sprinkled on top of hummus, added to a salad dressing for an extra punch of sourness, or used in meat marinades.

Here, it’s used to marinate red onions for a wonderful chickpea salad that gets better in the fridge overnight! What could be better?

And there’s another fun new ingredient in this recipe to try, if you haven’t already. Pomegranate molasses is not technically molasses, but is pomegranate juice reduced to a thick syrup, the consistency of molasses. It’s sweet, but has that back of the jaw bite that a sip of good pomegranate juice will give you. It works beautifully with the sourness of sumac, and is a great way to add a touch of sweetness to salad dressings, marinades, or even a summer cocktail.

Also below is a method of cooking chickpeas that I learned from a Nancy Silverton recipe a while ago. It takes a long time, perhaps longer than you are willing to spend on the humble chickpea. But trust me, with this way of cooking them, chickpeas become something more a meaty, creamy, beautifully-flavored bean that can be the base for soups, salads, or anything you can imagine. Give it a shot. It might change the way you think about chickpeas.

INGREDIENTS

Chickpeas:

  • 1 ½ cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp. + 1 Tbs. Vanns Kosher Salt, divided
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut in half crosswise
  • 1 stalk celery, trimmed and cut into thirds crosswise
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil

Salad:

PREPARATION

Chickpeas:

  1. Place the chickpeas and 1 tsp. kosher salt in a medium bowl and cover with water. Stir to dissolve the salt. Soak overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas. Place them in a medium-sized pot along with the carrot, celery, garlic, 1 Tbs. kosher salt, and olive oil. Cover the chickpeas with water by two inches. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface, then lower the heat to low and simmer ever so gently until the chickpeas are tender and creamy. This can take anywhere from two to three hours depending on the age of your chickpeas.
  3. When the chickpeas are done, remove the vegetables and garlic, then scoop out the chickpeas with a slotted spoon and spread on a baking sheet to cool. Don’t toss that cooking liquid! It makes a wonderful, savory base for any kind of bean or vegetable soup. If you don’t have a way to use it in the near future, throw it in the freezer. Labeled of course, or you’ll be wondering what it is in a few weeks.

(If you really just don’t have the time for this whole process, though it really will produce the most magnificent chickpeas of your life, you can use two cans of cooked chickpeas instead, drained and well-rinsed.)

Salad:

  1. While chickpeas cool, slice the onion. Cut both ends off and slice in half vertically, from pole to pole. Then, slice each half very thinly from pole to pole, leaving you with nice, gently curved shreds. This is a nice way to incorporate raw onions into salads — this shape mixes in more easily than the big C-shape you get when cutting the onion crosswise.
  2. Put the sliced onions in a bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 15 minutes. This will remove the sharpest of the raw onion flavor, and will keep the entire salad from stinking of raw onions the next day!
  3. Drain the onions and place in a large bowl. Add the sumac, aleppo pepper, and kosher salt. Massage the spices and salt into the onions for a few minutes with your hands, until everything is evenly coated and the onions are starting to break down in texture a little bit. Drain off any liquid that collects in the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Add the chickpeas and chopped parsley to the onions, and toss until thoroughly combined. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and pomegranate molasses and pour over the salad, tossing to combine. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if needed.
  5. Refrigerate the salad until ready to serve - its flavors will continue to develop, so it will actually taste best the next day!
  6. Taste for seasoning again before serving - the chill of the fridge will sometimes dull the flavors of food, so a little salt and pepper can help to brighten things back up again.

 Serves 6-8 as a side. Adapted from The Kitchn.


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Carnitas Tacos

by Lydia Whitlock — May 2nd, 2016

You may have heard rumors about how carnitas are cooked. Rumors about vast quantities of lard, in which massive chunks of pork swim, braising over the lowest heat possible until they’re fall-apart tender. Well, these rumors are true -- this is how carnitas are traditionally made, but the traditional way is not the only way. 

This absolutely genius recipe adapted from Serious Eats proves that you can make beautifully tender carnitas with that trademark crispness without having to put a chunk of your savings towards pork fat. Instead, these carnitas are oven-cooked, packed tightly together with a drizzle of vegetable oil, creating a moist braising environment that softens them up beautifully. The liquid is then poured off, the fat separated and poured back over the meat, which is then pulled into shreds and placed under the broiler to give it brown, crisp edges.

Vanns Cinnamon Sticks and Vanns Bay Leaves provide the perfect hints of warmth throughout. And, as a bonus, this recipe uses the leftover pork juices to make a savory, bright tomatillo salsa to drizzle over the meat! Everything you need for the best taco night ever is right here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium white onions
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
  • 3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder (or butt), rind removed
  • Vanns Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp. Vanns Ground Cumin
  • 1 medium orange
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • Vanns Bay Leaves
  • 1 Vanns Cinnamon Stick, broken into three pieces
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 6 medium tomatillos, peeled, washed, and halved
  • 2 jalapeños, stem removed, cut in half lengthwise (remove seeds from one or both for a milder salsa)
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • About 24 corn tortillas

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F, with a rack in the middle. 
  2. Finely dice one white onion and toss with cilantro leaves. Refrigerate until serving.
  3. Cut the pork shoulder into 2-inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Toss with 1 Tbs. kosher salt and 1 tsp. ground cumin to season. Place pork in a single layer in a 9”x13” glass casserole dish. The pork should be tightly packed with no spaces. 
  4. Cut the orange into quarters. Squeeze each quarter over the pork and then nestle the squeezed quarters into the meat. Cut the second white onion into quarters and nestle 4 into the pork, along with 4 of the garlic cloves, the bay leaves, and the cinnamon stick pieces. 
  5. Pour the vegetable oil over the pork, cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil, and cook in oven until pork is fork tender, about 3 ½ hours.
  6. When pork is done, remove from oven. Set a large fine-meshed strainer over a large bowl. Remove the orange peel, onion quarters, garlic cloves, cinnamon stick pieces, and bay leaves from the pork with tongs and discard. Transfer the pork and its juices to the strainer and allow to drain for 10 minutes. Transfer the pork back to the casserole dish. 
  7. You should end up with about ½ cup liquid and ½ cup fat in the strained liquid. Carefully skim the fat from the liquid using a flat spoon, adding it back to the pork as you go.
  8. Shred the pork into large chunks with your fingers or two forks and season to taste with salt. Refrigerate pork until ready to serve.
  9. Pour remaining pork liquid into a medium saucepan and add the tomatillos, remaining 2 onion quarters, remaining 2 garlic cloves, and jalapeños. Add some water -- just enough to raise the liquid to a level 1 inch below the tops of the vegetables. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are completely soft, about 10 minutes. 
  10. Allow the vegetables and liquid to cool for 10-15 minutes, and then transfer to a blender, or use a hand blender in the pot. Blend until smooth and season to taste with salt. Chill completely in the refrigerator before serving.
  11. To serve, preheat your broiler to high. Place the casserole dish with the pork under the broiler and broil until nicely browned and crisp on top, about 6 minutes. Stir the pork and broil for another 6 minutes, or until crisp again. Cover with foil to keep warm while you heat the tortillas.
  12. To heat the tortillas, you can wrap up to 5 of them in a damp paper towel, place them on a plate, and microwave in 30-second bursts until heated through. This is the easy way. The more time-consuming but more easily-controlled method is to heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat until hot, and then dip each tortilla in a bowl of water, before putting them on the skillet, cooking until the water evaporates and the tortilla develops brown spots, about 30 seconds. Then, flip the tortilla and cook for an additional 15 seconds. Transfer the tortillas to a tortilla warmer or wrap in a clean dish towel.
  13. Once your tortillas are warmed, it’s time to assemble your tacos! Stack two tortillas on top of each other, top with around 3 Tbs. of carnitas, and add your choice of condiments! A sprinkle of the chopped onion and cilantro gives a nice raw bite, while the tomatillo salsa adds a nice hit of acid. Queso fresco gives a nice salty creaminess. I also like to add pickled red onions to mine, the recipe for which you can find here. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over the tacos to taste.

Makes around 12 tacos, or 6 servings. Adapted from Serious Eats.


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(Vegan) Black Sesame Carrot Cake

by Lydia Whitlock — May 2nd, 2016

This is a wonderful carrot cake that just happens to be vegan. It’s not a carrot cake in the traditional, layered cream cheese frosting sense -- this is closer to a banana bread with carrots, something to be enjoyed with coffee or tea, or toasted for a slightly indulgent breakfast.

Black Sesame Carrot Cake

It’s moist, with a wonderful texture, and a warmly spiced flavor from a good helping of ground cinnamon and nutmeg, and some fresh ginger root. 

 

INGREDIENTS

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Even spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. I like to use a long, thin loaf pan, but a regular one will work as well.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl. In another large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, light brown sugar, vegetable oil, applesauce, grated ginger, and Vanilla Extract. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in thirds. Fold in the grated carrots until just combined.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top gently with a spatula. Sprinkle the Sesame Seeds evenly on top. Bake for 75-85 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before removing the cake from the pan.
  5. The cake will keep for three days at room temperature, tightly wrapped.

Makes 1 loaf. Adapted from Sqirl


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Sweet Potato Hummus

by Lydia Whitlock — May 2nd, 2016

So, you’ve sampled every flavor of hummus available at the grocery store. Maybe you’ve even been making your own, and you’re ready for a change, a hummus that is the perfect balance between sweet and savory, and is spiced with a warm blend of flavors. Well, here’s that hummus.

Sweet Potato Hummus

It’s a simple thing to make if you have a can or so of chickpeas lying around, but if you have the time, use the method I’ve described below to cook them from dried -- it results in a wonderfully silky smooth texture that might make you never want to go back to the cans again, unless you have a hummus emergency, that is.

INGREDIENTS

PREPARATION

  1. Cook the sweet potatoes. You can steam or bake them whole with the skin on for 45 minutes to an hour -- the baking temperature is 400°F. Or you can peel them and cut them into pieces, which cuts the steaming time down to seven to ten minutes -- it’s up to you! While the sweet potatoes are cooking, you can cook your chickpeas, if starting from dried.
  2. Let the sweet potatoes cool to room temperature and remove the skins if you left them on. 
  3. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until they form a paste. Add the sweet potatoes (cut into chunks if cooked whole), lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne or aleppo-style chili, ground coriander, kosher salt, and tahini. Process until well-mixed.
  4. You will likely need to add some cold water at the end to bring the hummus to the desired consistency, which should be smooth, soft and easily scoopable, and not too starchy. Drizzle cold water into the food processor while it runs, two Tbs. at a time, until your desired texture has been reached.
  5. Taste for seasoning, and scoop into a bowl. Top with a sprinkle of smoked Spanish paprika and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil for some added smokiness. Serve with pita bread, crackers, or crudites. This hummus also makes a lovely sandwich spread -- eat it with goat cheese and arugula, turkey breast, or any other flavors you enjoy with sweet potato. 

A note on cooking dried chickpeas for hummus: to get a wonderfully silky smooth hummus from your dried chickpeas, start by soaking them overnight. The next day, drain them and place them in a saucepan with 1 tsp. baking soda. Cook the chickpeas and baking soda over high heat, stirring frequently, for five minutes. Then, cover the chickpeas with water and boil until tender as usual, skimming the foam that rises to the top. The baking soda helps break down the skins of the chickpeas, resulting in a much smoother hummus.

Makes around 4 cups.


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Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

by Lydia Whitlock — May 2nd, 2016

There are chili recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, kept locked away in boxes and in the minds of the people in on the secret. There are chili recipes that require hours and hours of work and combinations of mysterious flavors that unite to form something considered by its makers to be the absolute perfect chili. These chilis exist, and this recipe is not one of them.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Instead, this is a weeknight chili, something that is delicious, hearty, warming, and healthy, making the most of the spices that go into its making. The earthiness of black beans and the sweetness of sweet potatoes combine to make a vegetarian chili that ends up tasting much more delicious than you’d imagine from its simple ingredients. Chipotle powder provides a smoky spice, while ground cumin and Vanns Dark Chili Powder give it that chili-flavored backbone that we all want from such a dish. Top with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of cilantro leaves, and a slice of your favorite cornbread (mine is here), and you have a surprisingly complex, inexpensive, and easy weeknight chili.

I’ve given you instructions on making it with both dried and canned beans. If you have the time, the dried beans are worth it, as you cook them with some spices that multiply the delicious flavor of the dish. But canned beans will give you a tasty chili too, don’t worry.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. dried black beans or 3 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Vanns Cinnamon Stick (if using dried beans)
  • 4 tsp. Vanns Kosher Salt (if using dried beans)
  • 1 tsp. Vanns Ground Cumin (if using dried beans)
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 tsp. Vanns Ground Cumin
  • 2 Tsp. Vanns Dark Chili Powder
  • ½ tsp. Vanns Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup cilantro stems, chopped finely
  • Vanns Kosher Salt
  • 1 12-oz. bottle dark beer
  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
  • ½ lime, for serving
  • sour cream, for serving

PREPARATION

  1. If using dried beans, the night before making chili, place black beans in bowl with 2 tsp. kosher salt and cover with water by 1 inch. Soak overnight.
  2. Two hours before you want to serve the chili, drain and rinse the soaked black beans. Place them in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Add cinnamon stick, 2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. cumin. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a gentle simmer, skimming off any foam. Simmer until tender but not mushy, about 1 hour. Start testing for doneness at 30 minutes -- the time it takes depends on the age of the beans. While the beans cook, prepare your other ingredients. Once beans are done cooking, drain.
  3. If using canned beans, skip the above steps and start with step 4.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and starting to brown, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic, minced jalapeno, cumin, chili powder, and chipotle powder and saute for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, drained beans, cilantro stems, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and beer. Simmer on medium high for 10 minutes, and then add the sweet potatoes.
  5. Reduce heat to medium low and gently simmer for about 20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are cooked through but not falling apart. Adjust seasoning.
  6. Serve chili in bowls, garnished with cilantro leaves, a squeeze of lime juice, and sour cream if you like, or whatever other chili toppings might be your favorite. Corn bread on the side never hurts!

Serves 8. Adapted from Serious Eats.


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Spiced Squash Broth with Toasted Fideos

by Lydia Whitlock — May 2nd, 2016

This is it, folks. This is the perfect, unexpected, amazing vegetable soup, adapted from Michael Solomonov’s beast of a cookbook Zahav. This recipe is the perfect example of his brilliant and unusual use of commonplace spices and other ingredients. Here, he uses squash peels and seeds, usually thrown in the trash, as the base for a beautifully-spiced and seasoned squash-tomato broth, given depth by the addition of a charred onion.

A cinnamon stick and whole cloves add warmth and bring out the sweetness of the squash flavors, and the bitterness of kale brings balance. Toasted fideos and roasted pieces of squash add body and a toasty flavor to the soup, with pearl onions adding one more bite of sweetness. 

Spiced Squash Broth with Toasted Fideos

This soup takes some time to make -- peeling the squash is a bit of a pain, as it always is, and the broth takes an hour to simmer and bring out all the flavors of the vegetables and spices. But other than the time it takes, this is a soup with a fairly accessible and inexpensive list of ingredients that will yield spectacular results. Give it a try, and if you go right out and buy a copy of Zahav after taking your first bite, well, I don’t blame you at all.

The bread that you see in the picture above is called lachuch, a beautifully spongy pancake bread typically served alongside soup in Yemen. A healthy dose of ground fenugreek speeds its fermentation and adds a tangy flavor, though the bread can lean either savory or sweet, depending on its toppings. I’ve included a recipe for it along with the soup, should you want to go the extra mile. And if you end up with leftovers, a friend of mine whose family is Yemeni swears that a piece of lachuch spread with labneh and honey makes for the best breakfast ever. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled, trimmed, and halved lengthwise
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • Vanns Ceylon Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • Vanns Whole Cloves
  • 2 tsp. Vanns Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup fideos (short vermicelli noodles that can be found in many Hispanic and Middle Eastern markets)
  • 2 cups kale, shredded
  • ½ cup pearl onions, peeled, trimmed, and halved (for tips on peeling pearl onions, go here)
  • Lachuch, for serving (optional, see recipe below)

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Peel the squash, reserving the peels for the broth. This will be a real pain, and I recommend you cut the acorn squash into smaller sections to be able to get between the ridges more easily. Scoop the seeds from the middle and reserve as well. Cut the peeled and seeded squash into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Heat a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until smoking. Place the onions halves, cut side down, on the skillet, and cook without touching for 5-10 minutes, until the onion has a layer of black char across its surface. Remove the charred onion from heat.
  4. To make the broth, heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When warmed, add the squash skins and seeds and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly darkened and sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add 2 quarts of water to the squash, along with the charred onion, crushed tomatoes, cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger, and 2 tsp. kosher salt. Bring mixture to a low simmer and cook for 1 hour.
  6. While the broth simmers, toast the fideos. Toss with 1 tsp. olive oil and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Toast for about 4 minutes in the 400°F oven, until the color darkens and they smell slightly nutty. Keep a close eye on them, as they can easily go too far and become bitter. Remove fideos from oven and set aside.
  7. Toss the cubed squash with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the squash is starting to brown, but not fully cooked, about 15 minutes.
  8. When the broth has simmered for an hour, strain the liquid into a large bowl, pressing down on the solids to get as much out of them as possible. Wipe out the large pot to make sure no solids remain, and then return the broth the the pot. Bring the broth to a simmer and add the kale and pearl onions. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.
  9. Stir in the roasted squash cubes and toasted fideos to the simmering broth and cook for about 4 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens and the fideos are cooked.
  10. Serve the soup in bowls with lachuch on the side, if you like.

Serves 6. Adapted from Zahav.

LACHUCH BREAD

INGREDIENTS

PREPARATION

  1. Pour 2 ½ cups warm water into a medium bowl, stir in the yeast,and let stand for about 5 minutes, until slightly bubbly. Stir in the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and fenugreek, and mix until evenly combined. The consistency will be similar to pancake batter.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot in the kitchen for about an hour, until the surface of the batter is dotted with little bubbles. The amount of time this takes will depend on the temperature of your kitchen, so the bubbles are the best indicator that it’s ready.
  3. Heat a nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat and brush to coat with canola oil. When heated, pour in ½ cup of the batter and cook, without flipping or stirring, until browned on the bottom and fully set on top. This will take about 4-8 minutes, but the best indicator will be the change in color and consistency of the top of the pancake, as the batter goes from raw to cooked.
  4. Remove the pancake to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining batter, brushing more oil on the pan each time.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature. These even taste pretty great cold out of the fridge, spread with jam or hummus!

 

 


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Rosemary Onion Jam

by Lydia Whitlock — May 2nd, 2016

This is one of my favorite kinds of dishes -- one that’s made up entirely of ingredients that are likely part of your rotation of pantry staples, but which, when combined and cooked in just the right way, make a dish that feels truly luxurious.

Onions and rosemary work together with a sweet-tart combination of vinegars, honey, and wine to yield a sophisticated, melt-in-your-mouth onion jam, ready to be slathered on sandwiches or served on delicate toasts with a little bit of ricotta cheese at a dinner party.

Rosemary Onion Jam

 

It keeps for quite a long time in the fridge, too, so you can have a little taste of luxury whenever the mood strikes you.

 

INGREDIENTS

PREPARATION

  1. Slice the onions in half and peel. Slice thinly crosswise to yield about 10 heaping cups of sliced onions.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. When oil is heated, add the onions, tossing them in the oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle the rosemary over the onions, season with 2 tsp. of the kosher salt and a few grinds of black tellicherry peppercorns, and stir until evenly distributed. Nestle the bay leaves into the onions and lower the heat to low. Cover the pot tightly and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the onions have softened and released their liquid.
  3. Uncover the pot and stir in the wine, vinegars, honey, and sugar. Season with 1 tsp. more of kosher salt and a bit more black pepper to taste. Raise the heat to medium to keep the mixture at a steady simmer and cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid has reduced by about half.
  4. When liquid has reduced, remove the bay leaves and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if you like. Be careful not to let the onions caramelize or scorch during this step -- frequent stirring will help.
  5. If the texture isn’t yet soft and sticky, with almost no liquid remaining, keep cooking the onions until it is.
  6. Allow the mixture to cool to warm, and then spoon it into your container of choice. Will keep in the fridge for about 2 months.

Makes about 3 cups. Adapted from Serious Eats.


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