Sautéed Kale with Tahini and Currants

Sautéed Kale with Tahini and Currants

Are we still talking about kale?  Has kale jumped the shark yet?

Whatever.  I don’t think I could ever get sick of greens of any sort.  Kale, chard, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens… they just do it for me.  Kale in particular has this wonderful texture, much like your workaday cabbage, that’s just as good cooked as it is raw.

Passion for kale notwithstanding, this recipe was born out of desperation, as so many of my recipes are.  My traditional post-Christmas detox* this year resulted in a steady supply of fresh greens in the fridge, and not much else.

Needing protein, I added almonds and tahini.  Kale screams for garlic; I obliged.  A handful of currants made for a Middle-Eastern sweetness.  And I couldn’t help but add some heat via fresh chile.

The overall flavor hinted at peanut butter on celery sticks, but way more soigné.  It was one of those times where I took a taste, then grabbed a pen and some paper to feverishly try to remember what the hell I did to make it.  It’s all slightly al dente kale, nutty tahini, sharp garlic and lemon, jammy currants.  It’s flippin’ awesome.

*It’s not so much a detox as an “oh god I might actually die unless I eat the most healthy things I can for about three weeks, so fetch me all the kale”.  Fixes me right up.

Sautéed Kale with Tahini and Currants

2 lunch servings, or 4 side servings

Sautéed Kale with Tahini and Currants

I used regular curly-leaf kale, which stayed reasonably al dente in this preparation. This was enough for two light lunches, served with bread and fruit on the side. A drizzle of olive oil over the top is not out of place here.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chile pepper (or to taste), such as Serrano
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped roasted almonds (1 large handful)
  • 2 tablespoons dried currants (1 small handful)
  • Salt and pepper, as needed

Instructions

1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and chile; cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.

2. Add the kale, in batches if necessary, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. As it wilts, stir to coat with the oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.

3. Drizzle the tahini and lemon juice over the kale, and stir to incorporate. Add a spoonful of water if needed to thin the sauce. Heat briefly to warm through, then remove from heat.

4. Stir in the currants and almonds. Taste, and correct seasoning as needed with salt, pepper, and additional olive oil and/or lemon juice. Serve warm.

http://www.onehundredeggs.com/sauteed-kale-with-tahini-and-currants/

 

Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

Show of hands: who has a half-full (or empty) jar of tahini banging around the fridge?

I thought so.

I managed to accumulate three (three!), and I’m sick of looking at them.  Here’s a recipe that accomplishes three goals:

1.  It isn’t hummus.

2.  It uses up tahini.

3.  It’s frickin’ awesome.

Warmly spiced, slightly nutty, tangy, full-flavored, and filling.  It’s everything I want soup to be.  Pumpkin seed garnish is optional; crusty bread is not.

Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

If you're firmly against using canned pumpkin (why, I have no idea), feel free to use any sort of winter squash, sweet potato, or what-have-you. Me, I'm just trying to get dinner together.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat (or butter or olive oil)
  • 1 large onion (or 2 small), diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (ground or whole seeds)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Serrano chile, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 12 ounces red lentils, rinsed
  • 8 cups stock or water
  • 1 cup tahini (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Instructions

1. Heat the bacon fat in a large stock pot or Dutch oven, over medium to medium-high heat.

2. Add the diced onion, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and stir to coat with the fat. While the onion cooks, dice the celery. Add the celery to the pot. Stirring occasionally, cook until just beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare or gather the remaining ingredients.

3. Stir in the curry paste, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, garlic, Serrano, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Take care to not let the spices burn (decrease heat or add a splash of water if necessary to prevent scorching).

4. Add the pumpkin, lentils, and stock, stirring to combine. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook uncovered until the lentils have completely fallen apart, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.

5. Remove the bay leaf, and add the tahini. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup in the pot until completely smooth. (Alternatively, purée the soup in a blender, being extremely careful when blending any hot liquid.)

6. Stir in the buttermilk. Taste, and correct the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Serve at once, drizzled with a little olive oil if you like.

http://www.onehundredeggs.com/red-pumpkin-tahini-soup/

Roasted Eggplant With Tahini Sauce

Normally, this is where I’d insert photo after photo of lovely ingredients.

Imagine then, the plump aubergine, the cream-colored garlic, the crisp onion.  Imagine the anchovies, swimming eerily in olive oil.  Imagine the cumin seeds, the sunny lemon, the putty-hued tahini, the jarring red of the tomato.

You’ll have to imagine these things because I was foolish enough to think that this thrown-together mess wouldn’t be worth mentioning.  While running an errand yesterday afternoon, I realized that I hadn’t even thought about dinner yet.  Not wanting to go out a second time for any ingredients, I quickly scanned my mental inventory of the refrigerator, and remembered the jar of tahini left over from these beauties.

Stopping in at the grocery store, and without really knowing why, I picked up one eggplant and one tomato.  Something about the persistent (though lessening) chill in the air suggested something roasted.  Eggplant seemed to match the tahini that nagged at me to be used; the tomato would lend freshness and acidity.  Somehow.

Back home, I surveyed the refrigerator, pulling out anything that seemed like it would play nice.  Out came the tahini.  Out came a container of cooked brown rice.  Three lonely anchovy fillets in a jar, risking expiration, joined in.  There was an onion, chopped and frozen.  Cloves of garlic and a naked, previously-zested lemon followed.  And then I let them tell me what to do.

The eggplant demanded to be chopped, and roasted with the onion and the garlic.  The few anchovies decided that the hot oven was far too much for them to handle, and asked to be melted into some sort of sauce.  The tahini insisted on being used raw, with no heat applied, as did the tomato, while the rice politely offered to play a supporting role.  From the spice cabinet, cumin seed, dried thyme, and oregano cried out to be used, and I was more than happy to accommodate them.

I knew I couldn’t exactly go wrong with roasted eggplant; but the scents wafting from the pan as the anchovies gently simmered with the cumin, mingling with the sweet smell of the caramelizing onion and eggplant, told me that I had something special on my hands.

But after tasting the finished sauce, the boldness of anchovy mixed with nutty tahini and vibrant lemon, punctuated with the smoke of cumin, and I knew I couldn’t keep this one to myself.  With the somehow meaty flavor of the roasted eggplant, over a plate of brown rice, it was the best kind of simple dinner: the one you didn’t expect could possibly taste so incredibly good.

And then, I started kicking myself.  Why, oh why, hadn’t I taken even one picture?

(Good thing there were leftovers for lunch today.)

 

Roasted Eggplant With Tahini Sauce

Yield: 2 to 3 servings

This earthy mixture of roasted vegetables is extremely versatile. Serve it over rice, with a dollop of yogurt and a garnish of parsley, as pictured; serve it tossed with pasta and bits of salty feta; purée it and garnish with mint for a dip to go with toasted pita wedges; use it as is for a flavorful side dish with simply-prepared pork, fish, or chicken.

Ingredients

    For the eggplant:
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • For the sauce:
  • 3 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets, with 1 tablespoon of the oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin
  • 2 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper (optional)
  • To finish:
  • 1 medium tomato, diced

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 450º F. While the oven heats, prepare the vegetables.

2. Toss the eggplant, onion, and garlic together in a large roasting pan. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and toss to combine at once, before the eggplant soaks up the oil. Add the remaining tablespoon oil if the mixture looks very dry; do not be tempted to add any more than that, however. Add the thyme, oregano, cayenne, and bay leaf. Salt and pepper to taste, and toss until incorporated.

3. Roast the mixture at 450º F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until well-browned and very soft. Set aside to cool slightly.

4. While the vegetables cool, make the sauce. Heat the anchovies in their oil in a small pan over medium heat. When they begin to sizzle and break down, add the cumin and reduce the heat to low. Let cook until the cumin is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and add the tahini. Stir until smooth, then stir in the lemon juice. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed.

5. Pour the sauce over the roasted eggplant. Add the diced raw tomato, and toss. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

http://www.onehundredeggs.com/roasted-eggplant-with-tahini-sauce/

Chocolate Tahini Sablés

I found myself the other day just a few ingredients shy of a dish that has been on my “to cook” list for some time now.  (Side note: said dish is supremely flavorful, and is now in the permanent file.)  As I walked to the store, my mind was buzzing, but not with visions of the promised lightly caramelized butternut squash, pungently sweet red onion, or earthy chickpeas.  No, my mind was focused on the tahini I was about to purchase, and on cookies.

You see, I had just made a batch of cookies to scratch a baking itch, and to provide a little midday relief for the sweet tooth that occasionally plagues me.  They were nothing out of the ordinary, just little chocolate chip guys with a small handful of steel-cut oats added.  Perfectly fine.  But as respectable as those cookies had been, they just didn’t ring my bell.  They were good, but not great.  Me, I want cookies to be unquestionably worth every calorie.  Good is not good enough; I want them to be friggin’ amazing.

And so, sub-par cookies tugging at my mind, I set out to buy tahini.  Since my last jar of tahini lasted me approximately five years (before I threw it out), I wondered what to do with the remainder of this jar.  Somewhere along the way to the store, the idea came to use it in cookies.  But not just any cookies, shortbread cookies.  And, ooh!, with chocolate!  Sesame seed butter and chocolate?  Yes, please.

I wasn’t sure where that idea had come from; but when I got home to search my saved recipes for shortbread, sure enough, there was a tahini shortbread recipe recently ripped from Food & Wine Magazine.  Of course.  How quickly I forget; luckily, my brain had filed that away for such a time as this.  The idea of tahini in a shortbread cookie, with a generous amount of salt, sounded like exactly what I was looking for.

But in my search, another recipe caught my eye (original source forgotten, a copy is here), one for shortbread in the French-style, known as a sablé.  This dough, however, used a hard-boiled egg yolk, of all unusual things to put in a cookie.  Being a sucker for unusual ingredients, it was impossible to choose between the two recipes, especially since the latter included a chocolate variation.

There was nothing to do but incorporate elements from both recipes: the egg yolk and cocoa from the one, the tahini from the other.  The dough tasted and smelled exquisite, redolent with the nutty aroma and flavor of sesame, rich with chocolate and a gluttony of butter.  Rolled in coarse turbinado sugar, the edges glistened.

The fragile texture was textbook sablé, crumbling at the merest pressure into the most beautiful sandy crumbs, and the generous pinch of salt in the dough lends an intriguing and almost savory note.  If I’m honest, I only wish the tahini flavor had held up in the oven a little more.  So sesame-forward in the dough, it seemed to succumb readily to the chocolate flavor after baking.  Rolling the dough in sesame seeds instead of sugar would accentuate it, of course; but I can’t imagine giving up that fantastic crunch of coarse sugar against melting sablé crumb.

As good as these cookies were straight from the oven, they’ve only improved after sitting for a day or two.  They seem to take on new complexity of flavor with every hour that passes, and the incomparable texture remains just as good.  With this recipe, the disappointment of sub-par cookies will never haunt you; these are absolutely worth every single calorie.

Chocolate Tahini Sablés
Makes about fifty 1 1/2 inch cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) tahini, stirred
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 7/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • Coarse sugar (such as turbinado or demerara), for finishing

 

Directions:

  1. 1.  Hard-boil the egg by placing it in a small saucepan.  Cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil.  When the water reaches a boil, remove it from the heat.  Cover the pan, and let the egg stand in the water for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, fill a small bowl with ice water.  When the egg is done, transfer it to the ice bath, and chill for 5 minutes.  Peel, and discard (or eat) the white.  Press the yolk through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. 2.  Add the softened butter, tahini, sugars, and salt.  Using the paddle attachment, cream the mixture together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
  3. 3.  Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and instant coffee.  Add to the other ingredients, and mix on low until just incorporated, scraping the bowl once or twice.
  4. 4.  Divide the dough in half, place each half on a piece of parchment or wax paper, and shape each piece into a log about 1 or 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap the paper around the dough, and twist the ends to seal.  Refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours.
  5. 5.  Preheat the oven to 325º F, and position a rack in the center of the oven.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease it lightly.  Sprinkle a generous handful of coarse sugar on a flat surface (such as a cutting board), unwrap one log of dough, and roll it in the sugar until completely coated, pressing to adhere the sugar.  Slice the log crossways, and arrange the slices on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. 6.  Bake at 325º F for about 25 minutes, or until the cookies are set and no longer feel very soft when touched lightly.  Slide the parchment onto a cooling rack, and let cookies cool completely.  Repeat coating, slicing, and baking with the remaining log of dough.  Cookies will keep for up to a week in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes:
1.  If you’d like to boost the sesame flavor, try rolling the cookies in sesame seeds instead of the sugar.