Zahtar Potato Salad

Zahtar Potato Salad

Zahtar or Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend that I’ve not had the pleasure to work with a lot with over the years. It’s a real shame because I love it!  Earthy and nutty with hints of citrus makes it wonderful with so many foods.  Hummus and pita are probably the first things people think of when they associate it, but it goes way beyond.  Great with chicken, eggs and potatoes to name a few. I recently came across a Zahtar Egg Salad and figured why not incorporate it into a potato salad, and Zahtar Potato Salad was born. 

I was not far off the mark thinking it would be delicious. The combination of briny, salty olives and creamy mayonnaise brings baby potatoes to life and makes for a great Mediterranean version.  Even though I prefer the  mayonnaise based potato salad, I did experiment with a warm salad version using olive oil to dress it instead of the mayonnaise.  It too was a tasty version of potato salad but I just couldn’t stop scooping up the creamier version.  Maybe because that was the way my mom used to make it and by far the type I’ve eaten most in my life. 

The Zahtar I purchased contains salt, so I therefore found it was not necessary to add additional salt in this recipe.  If your Zahtar does not contain salt,  be sure to add salt to taste. You can also make your own if desired, here is a simple recipe from The Genius Kitchen

Recipe source for Zahtar Potato Salad:  Inspired by Bon Appetit Mediterranean Egg Salad

Zahtar Potato Salad
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    5 cups 30 minutes
    Cook Time
    12 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    5 cups 30 minutes
    Cook Time
    12 minutes
    Zahtar Potato Salad
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      5 cups 30 minutes
      Cook Time
      12 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      5 cups 30 minutes
      Cook Time
      12 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: cups
      Instructions
      1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and place pine nuts in a single layer on a small baking tray or pie plate. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes, turning at least once until golden. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to use.
      2. Heat enough water to just cover the eggs and simmer gently for no more than 12 minutes. Drain and immediately cool under cold running water. Once cooled, peel and coarsely chop.
      3. Steam or boil baby potatoes in simmering lightly salted water until just fork tender, about 8-10 minutes depending on size. Drain and cool under cold water. Allow potatoes to drain thoroughly once cool.
      4. Cut potatoes into bite size pieces, usually a baby potato cut in half or quartered makes for a nice size.
      5. In a medium size bowl stir together red onion, green olives, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, Zahtar and salt and pepper. Add chopped potatoes, eggs, pine nuts and cilantro. Gently stir into mayonnaise until combined. Serve immediately sprinkled with additional cilantro if desired. Can be chilled for several hours prior to serving if needed. Best served the day it is made.
      Recipe Notes

      -For time management, the potatoes, pine nuts and eggs can be cooked at the same time.

      -The Zahtar I used contained salt, so little extra salt was needed. However, if your brand does not include salt you will need to adjust seasoning to taste.

      Classic Pesto

      Classic Pesto

      Well, I guess Classic Pesto is just that, a classic. It’s hard to mess with because it’s great just as it is. Simple everyday ingredients that become a vibrant, garlicky and herbaceous sauce with just a few pulses in the food processor.  While its historic use is to be tossed with pasta, you just can’t overlook all the other great ways to use it.  How about drizzled over scallops, spread onto hot cheese bread or grilled sandwiches, swirled into mashed potatoes or soup, used as pizza sauce and… I think you get the idea. There are plenty of ways that will have you scraping at the jar for every last drop.

      I’d have to say this post isn’t about revamping a recipe or creating something new, it’s more of a reminder of how good a classic really is.  In this case the Classic Pesto is easy, delicious and versatile. Only a handful of ingredients, a few minutes of time and a food processor or mortar and pestle is all that’s required.  So although the sauce is not new, one needs to ask what’s a new way to enjoy it? Make up a batch and be creative, I’d love to know what you come up with.  Enjoy!

      Recipe adapted slightly from: Wayne Gisslen Professional Cooking, seventh edition.

      Classic Pesto
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        1 cup 15 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        1 cup 15 minutes
        Classic Pesto
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          1 cup 15 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          1 cup 15 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: cup
          Instructions
          1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and puree until blended but still has some texture, about 20-30 seconds. Use immediately or store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.
          Recipe Notes

          Romano is a little stronger and saltier than parmesan and a nice addition, however you can use all parmesan if desired.

          You can also use a blender or mortar and pestle if desired.

          Fresh Asparagus Toast

          Fresh Asparagus Toast

          I read recently that fresh raw asparagus is underrated! I believe this observation is very true. So if you’re lucky to have a bundle or two, let Fresh Asparagus Toast entice you to discover all that fresh raw asparagus can offer. The first hurdle for me to eating raw asparagus is the fact that fresh asparagus is simply not a staple vegetable in my crisper drawer for most of the year. For me, those crisp spears are not something you reach for to munch on like a stick of celery or carrot. Second, when I do have a bundle or two of fresh asparagus I’m always cooking it by default….delicious in its own right, but still cooked. So let’s look at a new way!

          Fresh Asparagus Toast will change the way you view your asparagus. Not only does fresh raw asparagus make a quick, healthy lunch, it’s surprisingly addictive with a bright zesty lemon dressing. This magical combination is the perfect balance with salty cheese, avocado and crisp sprouts. If you’ve never had raw asparagus, it’s time, and you’ll be wondering why you haven’t done it sooner. Enjoy!

          Recipe Source:  Compelled To Cook

           

          Fresh Asparagus Toast
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            8 toasts 20 minutes
            Cook Time
            10 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            8 toasts 20 minutes
            Cook Time
            10 minutes
            Fresh Asparagus Toast
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              8 toasts 20 minutes
              Cook Time
              10 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              8 toasts 20 minutes
              Cook Time
              10 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: toasts
              Instructions
              1. In a medium bowl mash feta and cream cheese together using a fork until well combined but some little bits remain of the feta. Set aside. (avocado is added at the end to avoid oxidization)
              2. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper. Set aside. Peel asparagus into thin strips by holding the bottom woody portion of the spear and using a vegetable peeler, peel towards the tip in one motion. Continue to peel off thin strips until the spear is too flat and the peeler won't dig in. Turn what's left of the spear onto its side and continue to peel once or twice. You should be left with 1-2" of woody stem that was used as the handle. Discard this unused portion. In a medium size bowl toss together shaved asparagus and dressing. Set aside.
              3. Turn oven to broil and position oven rack to 8" from the top. Brush each bread slice with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Broil for 2-3 minutes until just starting to turn golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. While toast is cooling, mash avocado into cheese until incorporated. For each piece of bread, spread with a generous 2 tbsp of cheese spread, top with 1/4 cup of asparagus, top with your favourite sprouts or micro greens and a sprinkle of pine nuts. Add freshly cracked pepper if desired and serve immediately.
              Recipe Notes

              Toast pine nuts in a single layer in a 350℉ oven for 10-12 minutes.  Can omit or substitute in toasted almond slices if desired.

              Dukkah Crusted Pork Cutlets

              Dukkah Crusted Pork Cutlets

              Although I am pretty new to the world of dukkah, the thought of a crunchy roasted nut mixture blended with spice and herbs is certainly worth my attention. Dukkah is an Egyptian blend of crushed roasted nuts, spice and sometimes herbs and is most often eaten with bread dunked in olive oil. It didn’t take long for my mind to wander over to the meat section though, and imagine crunchy Dukkah Crusted Pork Cutlets. Quite addictive with their crunchy nutty coating and particularly delicious with a curried mayonnaise.

              Easy to put together for a weeknight meal, especially if the dukkah is made up in advance.  I chose to do a cutlet rather than a thicker cut of meat as the nuts tend to burn easily.  The cutlets cook quickly so the nuts are less likely to burn, plus there’s a great ratio of crunchy coating to meat.  I used a handful of panko breadcrumbs in the coating even though they are not normally found in traditional dukkah.  The addition of a small amount of breadcrumbs to the nut mixture really helps the coating adhere to the cutlet.  Resist the urge to crank the heat when pan frying these, the nuts will burn before you know it.  Medium low heat is what you’re after.  They’ll appear not to be cooking at all, but after a few minutes the nuts will start to turn a lovely burnished gold and the pork will just be starting to cook around the edges.  Flip, and a few minutes later they’re ready for the table.

              Feel free to experiment with your dukkah, using different nuts and/or spices.  The ones used in Dukkah Crusted Pork Cutlets are commonly used but my own variation of sorts.  I really enjoyed the mint in the dukkah coating and the fresh mint in the curried mayonnaise as it was fresh, bright and a great match for the cutlets.  Enjoy!

              Recipe Source:  Compelled To Cook

               

              Dukkah Crusted Pork Cutlets
              Print Recipe
              Tender pork with a crunchy exterior and loads of flavour.
                Servings
                4-5 people
                Servings
                4-5 people
                Dukkah Crusted Pork Cutlets
                Print Recipe
                Tender pork with a crunchy exterior and loads of flavour.
                  Servings
                  4-5 people
                  Servings
                  4-5 people
                  Ingredients
                  Dukkah Crusted Pork Cutlets
                  Yogurt Mint Sauce
                  Servings: people
                  Instructions
                  Yogurt Mint Sauce
                  1. In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients and allow to rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to blend flavours.
                  Dukkah Crusted Pork Cutlets
                  1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Roast pine nuts and cashews in a single layer on a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes, turning half way through. Allow to cool completely before proceeding.
                  2. Once nuts are cool pulse in a food processor until broken down to small bits. Be careful not to over process or nuts will turn to a paste. Add sesame seeds, panko and remaining spices. Pulse 2-3 times to combine. Set aside.
                  3. Cut pork tenderloin into 1/2" thick slices. Using a meat mallet, pound each slice between pieces of plastic wrap into a cutlet no more than 1/4" thick. Season both sides of cutlets with salt and pepper.
                  4. Whisk eggs together in a shallow bowl and place dukkah in a separate shallow bowl. Dunk one cutlet into egg bath and then into dukkah mixture, pressing slightly to coat both sides. Arrange pre coated cutlets on a parchment lined baking sheet. When all cutlets are coated, heat 1 tbsp canola oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add 4-5 cutlets to the pan cooking approximately 4 minutes per side, adjusting heat lower if necessary as the nuts burn easily. Remove cooked cutlets from pan and wipe out any stray bits with a paper towel. Repeat with more oil and cutlets. Keep cooked cutlets warm in a low oven. Serve immediately with Yogurt Mint Sauce.
                  Recipe Notes

                  Resist the urge to turn up the heat when cooking the cutlets.  The nuts will burn very easily!  A low-medium temperature is best even though the cutlets will not sizzle when you put them in the pan.  After a few minutes the nuts will turn golden and they are ready to flip.

                  Pesto Swirl Mashed Potatoes

                  Pesto Swirl Mashed Potatoes

                  I’ve never met a bowl of mashed potatoes I didn’t like and Pesto Swirl Mashed Potatoes are proof that not all mashed potatoes need to be smothered in gravy.  These zesty and herbaceous potatoes need nothing more than a side of your favourite roasted meat.

                  A simple recipe that brings life to an everyday side dish and the pesto can be made ahead of time and simply swirled in at the last minute.  Like so many people I am prone to making the same things time and time again. Mashed potatoes are a good example of this behaviour.  Boil, mash, add butter, a little milk, salt and pepper.  The same thing over and over and at times it’s out of convenience, or time pressures and sometimes because my brain needs a rest from thinking of food (who am I kidding, it never stops thinking of food).  Whatever your reason, let this recipe pull you out of that rut for a brightened up bowl of everyones favourite side.

                  I love this Pesto Swirl Mashed Potato recipe because the basil pesto gives mashed potatoes a fresh and bright makeover.  The toasted pine nuts add a little crunchy texture that tells your palette it’s not eating just any mashed potatoes.  Enjoy!

                  Recipe Source:  Compelled To Cook

                   

                  Pesto Swirl Mashed Potatoes are bright and zesty swirly with basil pesto and topped with toasted pine nuts.
                  Pesto Swirl Mashed Potatoes
                  Print Recipe
                  Herbaceous and bright basil pesto swirled into creamy mashed potatoes and topped with toasted pine nuts.
                    Servings
                    8 servings
                    Servings
                    8 servings
                    Pesto Swirl Mashed Potatoes are bright and zesty swirly with basil pesto and topped with toasted pine nuts.
                    Pesto Swirl Mashed Potatoes
                    Print Recipe
                    Herbaceous and bright basil pesto swirled into creamy mashed potatoes and topped with toasted pine nuts.
                      Servings
                      8 servings
                      Servings
                      8 servings
                      Ingredients
                      Basil Pesto
                      Mashed Potatoes
                      Servings: servings
                      Instructions
                      Basil Pesto
                      1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Spread 1/4 cup of pine nuts evenly onto small baking tray, bake for approximately 10-12 minutes until golden. Set aside and allow to cool. In a food processor bowl combine basil, 1/4 cup of untoasted pine nuts, cheese, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Pulse until the mixture is broken down and finely chopped. With processor running, gradually add oil and process until smooth, approximately 10 seconds. Set aside. Makes about a 1/2 cup.
                      Mashed Potatoes
                      1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add potatoes and cook until very tender. Drain potatoes and return pot to low heat and allow any residual moisture to evaporate, 1-2 minutes. Mash potatoes or press through a ricer. Add butter, and mash just to combine. Mash in salt, pepper and enough milk to make creamy. Top potatoes with 3/4 of the pesto and fold into potatoes with a flat rubber spatula. Drizzle remaining pesto on top and garnish with toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately.
                      Recipe Notes

                      The basil pesto can easily be prepared while the potatoes are cooking.