Tag Archives: sides

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

In keeping with the clean eating theme of the week and the new year I thought I would post one of the easiest vegetable recipes I know that features one of the best veggies to help clean up your act.  Cruciferous vegetables, think broccoli, kale and our little friends the brussels sprouts, are considered “super vegetables” because they contain high amounts of Vitamins A and C, and help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.  I love them because they are usually inexpensive and also some of the only good looking things in the produce aisle once the weather turns cold.  I love roasted brussels sprouts (and also fried ones but that’s not really health conscious!) but those take time.  By shredding the sprouts you can saute them in minutes.  In the spring and summer I like to pair them with bright lemon like I do here but in the fall and winter something a bit deeper is called for.  For that I turn to balsamic glaze, essentially balsamic vinegar that has been cooked down to a rich syrup.  You can do that yourself but lots of places are selling glazes these days and that makes this even quicker to make (I like Wegmans version).  Want to speed up the process even more?  Skip the tedious task of slicing the sprouts thinly and let the slicer blade on your food processor do the work for you.  Look how fast!

If you don’t have a food processor you can thinly slice them with a sharp knife for on a mandolin several days in advance.  Just keep them in a baggie until you are ready to use them and this dish will come together in minutes.  This dish would be great alongside Veal SaltimboccaPistachio Crusted Pork Medallions or Cornish Game Hens with Herb Butter.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  a healthy 2017
Special Equipment:  food processor fitted with a slicer blade (optional)

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic glaze

Heat your largest skillet to medium high and when it is hot add the olive oil.  Dump in the sprouts and season with salt and pepper.

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Let sit for a minute until some browning has occurred, then stir.  Stir again every couple of minutes for 5-7 minutes until the sprouts have wilted a bit and they are browned in areas.  Place on a serving platter and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

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Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 7 minutes
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Special Equipment:  food processor fitted with a slicer blade (optional)

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic glaze

Heat your largest skillet to medium high and when it is hot add the olive oil.  Dump in the sprouts and season with salt and pepper.  Let sit for a minute until some browning has occurred, then stir.  Stir again every couple of minutes for 5-7 minutes until the sprouts have wilted a bit and they are browned in areas.  Place on a serving platter and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

Hummus Potatoes

Poor hummus has become so popular that everyone has bastardized it to the point where you can barely recognize it!  Carrot hummus made with no chickpeas (delicious by the way), garlic-less hummus (NOT delicious), beets swirled into hummus (so pretty) and on and on.  Well if everyone else can do it why not me?  I love the classic flavors in hummus – garlic, tahini (sesame paste) and lemon – and thought it would make a great sauce.  So I roasted up some baby potatoes and tossed them with this lightened up hummus-like sauce.  SO good, like scoop up the rest of that sauce with whatever you have handy, good.  This is the perfect side for a roasted chicken as you can roast the potatoes right along side it.  Or pair it with some lamb burgers for a healthier version of fries.  Hummus purists be damned…

Hummus Potatoes  (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  hummus
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 1/2 pounds baby yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup water
  • chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the baby yukon golds in half (unless they are really small, you can leave those whole) and toss with the olive oil and some salt and pepper on a cookie sheet.

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Cover the cookie sheet tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Carefully remove the foil, toss the potatoes with a spatula and return to the oven, uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are golden and tender inside.

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While the potatoes are cooking combine the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper.  Whisk in water a little bit at a time until you get a saucy consistency.  Put the potatoes in a serving dish and drizzle on the sauce.  Serve any extra on the side for dipping and sprinkle the dish with parsley.

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Hummus Potatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 35 minutes
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Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 1/2 pounds baby yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup water
  • chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the baby yukon golds in half (unless they are really small, you can leave those whole) and toss with the olive oil and some salt and pepper on a cookie sheet.  Cover the cookie sheet tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Carefully remove the foil, toss the potatoes with a spatula and return to the oven, uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are golden and tender inside.  While the potatoes are cooking combine the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper.  Whisk in water a little bit at a time until you get a saucy consistency.  Put the potatoes in a serving dish and drizzle on the sauce.  Serve any extra on the side for dipping and sprinkle the dish with parsley.

Fennel Slaw

No cook dishes are key for steamy DC summers and this slaw makes the perfect side for just about any meal.  It is great with fried chicken, grilled steak, piled on pulled pork sandwiches, or as a raw accompaniment to grilled veggies.  I subbed in thinly sliced fennel for the typical cabbage for this slaw because it provides more flavor and snap to the dish.  I LOVE fennel, raw and cooked, but I know a lot of people still aren’t super familiar with it.

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This prehistoric looking bulb can be intimidating but its really easy to break down and almost all of it is edible.  The stalks can be a little woody so for a raw salad like this I toss them but if you were going to cook the fennel you can slice them up just like the bulb.  The fronds are delicious and are great to reserve and sprinkle on top of any finished fennel dish.

So first cut off the stalks, saving them for another use or for the fronds.  Then slice off the bottom, which is tough, and toss.  Cut the bulb through the middle until you have two halves.  There is a core that is also tough so for a raw dish it should be cut out (if it’s being cooked down you can leave in the core).  Cut along the edge of the core and it pops right out.  Then slice or dice away!  For this slaw I used a mandoline because it’s much quicker than using a knife, but if you don’t have one just make sure to try and get thin, consistent slices.  I have a relatively cheap mandoline that I like because it doesn’t take up a lot of drawer space and is dishwasher friendly.  This one also gets very good reviews – what you want to make sure is that it has a hand guard and at least a couple of thicknesses you can choose from.  Now that you are a fennel cutting expert you should make this and this.  I will be serving this up for the rest of the summer or at least while it’s still 90 plus!!

Fennel Slaw (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  no cook dishes
Special Equipment:  a sharp knife or a mandoline

  • 1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small), cored and sliced thinly (fronds reserved)
  • 1 fresno chili, sliced thinly
  • 2 scallions, light green and white parts, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use light)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I also use light here)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey

In a large bowl toss the fennel, chili and scallions together.  In a small bowl whisk the dressing together – the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, and honey.

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Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Start by adding half the dressing to the slaw, combine and then continue to add until dressed to your liking (I used 90% of the dressing and it was “lightly dressed.”)  Serve right away or store in the fridge overnight.  Bring to room temperature and sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds before serving.

Fennel slaw

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 5 minutes
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Special Equipment:  a sharp knife or a mandoline

  • 1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small), cored and sliced thinly (fronds reserved)
  • 1 fresno chili, sliced thinly
  • 2 scallions, light green and white parts, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use light)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I also use light here)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey

In a large bowl toss the fennel, chili and scallions together.  In a small bowl whisk the dressing together – the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, and honey.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Start by adding half the dressing to the slaw, combine and then continue to add until dressed to your liking (I used 90% of the dressing and it was “lightly dressed.”)  Serve right away or store in the fridge overnight.  Bring to room temperature and sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds before serving.

Creamy Avocado Linguine

Always looking for ways to incorporate pasta into my day I concocted this dish the other day.  I was hoping to use up items in my fridge and pantry and since there is always some rotation of peppers hanging around I thought a pasta with an almost guacamole type sauce would be good.  But we can be more refined than that right?  So blend all the ingredients together and get a silky smooth yet spicy and complex sauce.  DONE.   A great vegetarian main course or side for some grilled chicken.  I topped it with sliced fresno chilis (sometimes called red jalapenos) which are easily my favorite pepper to use these days but you could leave those off, use another pepper or just sprinkle on red pepper flakes if you need more heat.  I also had queso fresco on hand, a semi hard salty Mexican cheese, but parmesan would be a good sub.  Or omit the grated cheese on top and you will have a super creamy but creamless vegan dish on your hands (I could not help myself and of course added the cheese).

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Creamy Avocado Linguine (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  guacamole pasta
Special Equipment:  food processor

  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola or veggie oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 avocado
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 3/4 pound of linguine (I used fresh…from Wegmans)
  • 2 fresno chilis
  • queso blanco

Preheat your broiler and stem the poblano.  Place the poblano on a cookie sheet and broil for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is blistered and blackened.  Put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam for 10 minutes.

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Peel and seed the peppers (I like to do this with plastic gloves on).  Put the poblano into the food processor.  While the peppers are steaming, heat the oil over medium heat in a small skillet.  Sautee the onion and garlic for 10 minutes until softened but not browned (lower the heat if you need to keep it from browning).  Scrape the onion mixture into the food processor.  Cut the avocado in half, get rid of the pit and scrape all of the meat into the food processor.

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Pulse a couple of limes to combine then add the lime juice.  Run until smooth then taste for salt and pepper.  Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt the water and cook the pasta according to the directions.  While the pasta cooks, finely slice the fresno chilis and grate the queso fresco for the pasta.  Drain the pasta and toss with the avocado sauce.  Top with the sliced chilis and cheese.

Creamy Avocado Linguine

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Special Equipment:  food processor

  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola or veggie oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 avocado
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 3/4 pound of linguine (I used fresh…from Wegmans)
  • 2 fresno chilis
  • queso blanco

Preheat your broiler and stem the poblano.  Place the poblano on a cookie sheet and broil for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is blistered and blackened.  Put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam for 10 minutes.  Peel and seed the peppers (I like to do this with plastic gloves on).  Put the poblano into the food processor.  While the peppers are steaming heat the oil over medium heat in a small skillet.  Sautee the onion and garlic for 10 minutes until softened but not browned (lower the heat if you need to keep it from browning).  Scrape the onion mixture into the food processor.  Cut the avocado in half, get rid of the pit and scrape all of the meat into the food processor.  Pulse a couple of limes to combine then add the lime juice.  Run until smooth then taste for salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt the water and cook the pasta according to the directions.  While the pasta cooks, finely slice the fresno chilis and grate the queso fresco for the pasta.  Drain the pasta and toss with the avocado sauce.  Top with the sliced chilis and cheese.

Pineapple Fried Rice

I first had the idea to make this fried rice ages ago – I was at Doi Moi on 14th Street with my friend Amy and we had two unbelievably delicious dishes.  One was stir-fried pineapple that was spicy and sweet and savory all at once.  The other is their famous crab fried rice that not only includes terrific local lump crab meat, but also lets all the other ingredients sing.  I think years of crappy fried rice in college had led me astray because I always thought it was slightly greasy and not very flavorful.  Well that night at Doi Moi was a revelation and I spent a lot of time figuring out how to marry that dreamy fried rice with balanced flavor with the intriguing pineapple side dish.  Turns out the key to both elements is a very hot pan and just a little bit of oil.  The heat helps the pineapple really caramelize so it has a more complex sweetness.  It also means the other ingredients like the rice and peppers won’t take on as much oil.  It’s also a good idea to use leftover as opposed to fresh rice, the dryness helps with the oil as well (I used brown rice I had tucked in my freezer).  The result is absolutely delicious and the perfect vegetarian main meal or side to grilled meat or fish.  I had been drooling over images of pineapple bowls on Pinterest so just had to try my hand at it.  I won’t say it was immediately easy to do (or explain as you can see by my tortured explanation below) but just dive in.  By the time I was doing the second half I had figured out the best way for me and it was a breeze.  The good news is since you are chopping up the pineapple anyway it doesn’t really matter what it looks like once you have scooped it out.  What a fun way to spice up the middle of the week !

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Pineapple Fried Rice (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  delicious Doi Moi
Special Equipment:  a sharp paring knife

  • 1 pineapple (or 2 cups of diced pineapple if you don’t want to use the pineapple as a serving dish)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 fresno or jalapeno chilis, thinly sliced (seeded if you want less heat)
  • 4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 scallions, sliced

If you want to use the pineapple as your serving dish use a large knife and cut through the center of the pineapple lengthwise, through the leaves and everything.

Then use a small paring knife and follow the edge of the pineapple with the knife at a slight angle.   Use the paring knife to cut out the harder core (throw that away) that runs down the middle and then with the help of a spoon and the knife, cut out pieces.  It gets easier as you do it, just make sure to not cut through the skin of the pineapple.  Once you have most of the fruit out you can use a spoon to scrape the edges and create a wide bowl for the rice.  Dice the pineapple you scooped out into a small dice until you have 2 cups (save any remainder for a snack later).  In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over high heat.  Add the pineapple and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the pineapple caramelizes a bit.

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Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilis and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil and the rice and stir to combine.  Add in the soy sauce and cook the rice, stirring frequently for another 3 minutes.  Stir in the scallions and serve in the pineapple “bowls” or a large serving bowl.

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Pineapple Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 5 minutes with 5 minutes for making the pineapple bowl
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Special Equipment:  a sharp paring knife

  • 1 pineapple (or 2 cups of diced pineapple if you don’t want to use the pineapple as a serving dish)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 fresno or jalapeno chilis, thinly sliced (seeded if you want less heat)
  • 4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 scallions, sliced

If you want to use the pineapple as your serving dish use a large knife and cut through the center of the pineapple lengthwise, through the leaves and everything.  Then use a small paring knife and follow the edge of the pineapple with the knife at a slight angle.   Use the paring knife to cut out the harder core (throw that away) that runs down the middle and then with the help of a spoon and the knife, cut out pieces.  It gets easier as you do it, just make sure to not cut through the skin of the pineapple.  Once you have most of the fruit out you can use a spoon to scrape the edges and create a wide bowl for the rice.  Dice the pineapple you scooped out into a small dice until you have 2 cups (save any remainder for a snack later).

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over high heat.  Add the pineapple and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the pineapple caramelizes a bit.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilis and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil and the rice and stir to combine.  Add in the soy sauce and cook the rice, stirring frequently for another 3 minutes.  Stir in the scallions and serve in the pineapple “bowls” or a large serving bowl.

 

Roasted Carrots with Vadouvan Yogurt Sauce

Oh how I miss the summer days, strolling through the farmers market and taking advantage of the bounty of produce.  We have reached the doldrums of winter vegetables and it really forces you to get creative so it’s not the same roasted brussel sprouts or kale chips every night.  I have been seeing more and more carrot dishes on menus these days – the vibrant color can really help perk up a meal, they are wicked cheap and they last forever in the fridge.  This summer I posted this awesome carrot ribbon salad but for a winter dish you are going to want something warm and more hearty.  These roasted carrots are just the ticket – roasting the carrots pulls out their natural sweetness and also gives them a nice char.  I have done several different “sauces” with these carrots but this yogurt vadouvan is definitely my favorite.  If you have never had vadouvan is a kind of curry blend that to me is less spicy and more aromatic than the regular curry you are used to.  It’s really best paired with sweet veggies like these carrots or in the summer in a nice corn soup.  If you are in DC you can find it at Bazaar Spices in Union Market – nationally I have seen it at World Market or of course your local Indian grocer.  It’s becoming somewhat trendy lately, so it should be more accessible but if you don’t feel like tracking it down you can use regular curry.  Mixed with the fresh lemon zest and bite of garlic, fat free greek yogurt becomes super flavorful.  I like to serve these carrots with roasted pork tenderloin and then use the sauce for both the carrots and the pork.  I will be posting the perfect pairing, a pistachio crusted pork, on Friday.  So check your crisper drawer, I am sure there are some less then perfect carrots hanging around in there.  Roasting will hide any limpness or bruises and I will never tell.

Roasted Carrots with Vadouvan Yogurt Sauce (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:   working through my spice collection
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut in half on a diagonal
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 container (mine was 5.3 ounces) of nonfat greek plain yogurt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vadouvan (if you can’t find or don’t want to use this you can use 1/2 teaspoon curry powder or experiment with other spices)
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the carrots with the olive oil and salt and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet.

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Roast for 7 minutes and then toss the carrots, then roast for 7 minutes more.  While the carrots are roasting combine the yogurt, vadouvan, garlic, lemon zest and salt and pepper in a small bowl (this can be done days in advance).

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When the carrots are done spread the yogurt sauce on the serving plate and top with carrots.

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Roasted Carrots with Vadouvan Yogurt Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut in half on a diagonal
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 container (mine was 5.3 ounces) of nonfat greek plain yogurt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vadouvan (if you can’t find or don’t want to use this you can use 1/2 teaspoon curry powder or experiment with other spices)
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the carrots with the olive oil and salt and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet.  Roast for 7 minutes and then toss the carrots, then roast for 7 minutes more.  While the carrots are roasting combine the yogurt, vadouvan, garlic, lemon zest and salt and pepper in a small bowl (this can be done days in advance).  When the carrots are done spread the yogurt sauce on the serving plate and top with carrots.

Holiday Salad

When the holidays come around I basically wrap myself in everything Christmas – the house full of decorations, 24/7 carols on my iPod, and festive cocktails and dishes.  This salad is pulled from one of my recommended cookbooks, Ottolenghi, from Monday’s post Peep My Cookbooks.  It’s crisp and refreshing, which makes it a nice foil to the often heavy, comfort food type dishes that get cooked in December.  It also happens to be red, white and green!  The pomegranate seeds are little jewels in the salad but they aren’t just for show – they add a nice pop of juice and tartness.

Lots of supermarkets these days sell little containers of the seeds themselves but it’s a lot cheaper to buy a whole pomegranate and seed it yourself.  It’s really very easy (instructions below) and with the leftover seeds you can decorate a cocktail, stir them into rice or top ice cream.  Sumac isn’t the easiest spice to run down, middle eastern markets will carry it.  If you are in DC area, Yekta is an amazing Iranian market in Rockville.  Luckily our friends Debbie and Toby live around the corner so anytime I visit them I make sure to stop and stock up.  Otherwise you could find it online.  If you can’t find it I would just skip it as there isn’t really a comparable taste, smokey and lemony all at once.  Don’t worry, the rest of the components still make it a great dish.  This is also a good one for a buffet because it’s served at room temperature and the fennel won’t wilt under the dressing like regular lettuce will.  Doesn’t it make you want to run out and grab the book?

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Fennel and Feta Salad (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration: Fennel and Feta with Pomegranate Seeds and Sumac from Ottolenghi
Special Equipment:  mandoline (or a very sharp knife)

  • 1/2 pomegranate or 1/3 cup seeds
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons tarragon leaves
  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves
  • 2 1/2 ounces feta, cut into small cubes

First seed the pomegranate – halve the pomegranate and hold one half, cut side down over a bowl.  Use a spoon or another hard cooking tool to smack the skin side of the pomegranate.  Keep “spanking” the pomegranate and the seeds will loosen and fall into the bowl.

Set the seeds aside.  Next cut off the stalks of the fennel bulb saving some of the frilly green fronds for garnish.  Discard the outer layer if it’s brown or bruised.  Cut the fennel bulb in half and then use your knife to cut out the triangle of core on each half (its pretty tough but you can leave the core in if you don’t want to do this step).  Using a mandoline or a sharp knife cut the fennel in very thin slices.

Place the fennel in a bowl and toss it with the olive oil, sumac, lemon juice, tarragon, parsley and fennel fronds.  Toss well and season with salt and pepper.  Add the pomegranate seeds and feta and toss lightly until they are incorporated.

Holiday Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Print

Inspiration: Fennel and Feta with Pomegranate Seeds and Sumac from Ottolenghi
Special Equipment:  mandoline (or a very sharp knife)

  • 1/2 pomegranate or 1/3 cup seeds
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons tarragon leaves
  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves
  • 2 1/2 ounces feta, cut into small cubes

First seed the pomegranate – halve the pomegranate and hold one half, cut side down over a bowl.  Use a spoon or another hard cooking tool to smack the skin side of the pomegranate.  Keep “spanking” the pomegranate and the seeds will loosen and fall into the bowl.  Set the seeds aside.  Next cut off the stalks of the fennel bulb saving some of the frilly green fronds for garnish.  Discard the outer layer if its brown or bruised.  Cut the fennel bulb in half and then use your knife to cut out the triangle of core on each half (its pretty tough but you can leave the core in if you don’t want to do this step).  Using a mandoline or a sharp knife cut the fennel in very thin slices.  Place the fennel in a bowl and toss it with the olive oil, sumac, lemon juice, tarragon, parsley and fennel fronds.  Toss well and season with salt and pepper.  Add the pomegranate seeds and feta and toss lightly until they are incorporated.

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