Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pistachios and Pomolasses, several ways

In this post:
  • Apricot Sesame Kale REMIX with Pomegranate Molasses and Toasted Pistachios
  • Cumin-Pomolasses Dressing
  • **Carrots and Green Beans with Caraway, Harissa, and Pistachios**!!!
  • Harissa itself 
  • shameless photos of ice cream and cute animals
I finally bought some commercial pomegranate molasses, and it has way more kick than the stuff I made from scratch.  Sweet, but in an achingly tangy way, it's kind of like what a starburst candy should taste like.  A little bit adds exciting dimensions to recipes (without making them taste like candy at all).

For example, I did the Apricot Sesame Kale again, but added some pomolasses with the tamari near the end.  And, inspired by this recipe for vegetables with pistachios--about which, more soon--I also sprinkled it with pistachios.

Apricot Sesame Kale with Pomegranate Molasses and Toasted Pistachios


Pomegranate molasses also plays a totally bomb part in the salad dressing below--but its deliciousness doesn't exactly translate into a photo.  The combination of light citrus and coriander, fragrant olive oil, cumin, and cinnamon, with intensely sweet pomegranate, keeps your palate dancing!  I put this on a green salad, but the blogger I borrowed this from used it on couscous... I think you could use it in almost any kind of salad.

Cumin-Pomolasses Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
juice of one lime
juice and zest of one-half of an orange
1 clove garlic, minced (I used the equivalent in garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon


But here's the real star of the day:

Carrots and beans--quintessential summer garden bounty.  [my mom and her friend Michele have a great vegetable garden, some of the spoils of which they photographed--


But fresh carrots and green beans in August taste so good plain, why adulterate them?  Well, because this recipe is phenomenal.  Everything--the textures, the flavors--is exciting without being flashy.  The carrots and beans are just barely cooked in boiling water, then stir-fried in oil with garlic and a spice mixture (harissa).  I got lucky with the cooking times and temps, and the result was tender, but not limp, vegetables that had a slightly crispy, blistered, caramelized outer skin.  And, the caraway seeds and the pistachios crunch. !

When you first take a bite, the flavors seem pretty savory and heavy--there's sweet carrots, and quite a bit of garlic and cumin.  But then the chili kicks you a little bit, while the caraway gently pulls you somewhere else.  And then, a bit of lemon actually "finishes" it: you're left feeling as if the whole taste experience was light and clean.

The only sad thing about this dish (for solo cooks, anyway) is that it tastes better freshly made and slightly warm.  I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, but I used slightly more veggies and more pistachios and harissa (the recipe for which follows).

Carrots and Green Beans with Caraway, Harissa, and Pistachios
(from ecurry)

2 cups carrots, quartered and cut into bite-sized lengths
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized lengths
a good splash of olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp harissa, or perhaps less (recipe follows)
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
1.5 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
sea salt to taste (optional--after the salted water, the salt in the harissa, and the salt on the pistachios, I didn't need any more)
1/4 cup toasted pistachios, chopped if you like

1. Cook the carrots and the beans in salted water (just enough water to cover the vegetables) until just barely cooked--enough to remove the raw taste; they should still be crunchy.  Drain the veggies and ice them somehow to stop the cooking (at right)!
2. In a large skillet heat the olive oil and caraway seeds over medium high heat (yes, olive oil will splatter, but I think it might be worth it here).  Cover with a loose-fitting lid if needed.  Cook several minutes, then stir in the garlic and harissa.  Continue to cook several more minutes.
3. Add the drained vegetables (remove ice, obviously), and stir fry at medium heat for about 4-6 minutes.
4. Turn off heat.  Add salt if desired.  Stir in the lemon juice, and sprinkle the pistachios.  Serve warm as an appetizer, salad or a side dish.  Serves about 4.


A big part of the magic of the above vegetable recipe is due to harissa.  I've never actually made harissa before today, and it looks like the ingredients can vary quite a bit.  Lemon? Coriander? Fresh mint? Cinnamon? Rosemary? Cilantro?  Oh, the possibilities!  But it looks like the basics are cumin, oil, probably garlic and caraway, and tons of chilies.

I think this stuff is really fun.  It seems familiar to my palate, but just different enough (especially with the caraway and fresh mint in this recipe): Is it a pistou? A chili paste? Mouhammarah?

I think I followed the original recipe from ecurry pretty closely, except 1) I toasted and ground the spices, and 2) the thought of doing anything with 3/4 c garlic just made me nervous.  I probably used about 1/4 c and it was still pretty garlicky... And it's just bulked out enough with tomato paste and oil (and some chili-soaking water, too) that you can use it as a chili paste in cooking or as a condiment.  I think it would taste pretty amazing baked into some pita/pizza-type dough, for example.

Added Nov. 2010: Some uses for harissa:

(adapted from ecurry)

3/4 cup dried red chile peppers, of which some should be chipotle
4 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup minced garlic (about 10 cloves)
pinch sea salt
1/4 c chopped fresh mint leaves
2 TB tomato paste
2 TB olive oil
Optional: Cinnamon, Rosemary, Fresh Coriander/Cilantro...

1. Remove the stems from the chilli peppers; chop coarsely and soak in hot water for 15-20 minutes, then drain, reserving some water.
2. Toast the caraway, coriander, and cumin.  When cooled enough, grind them.
3. Place all the ingredients in a small food processor (or mortar and pestle) and process until smooth but not absolutely pureed.  Add reserved chili-soaking water as needed for an even blend.  Store leftover harissa in a jar with a layer of oil on top. Makes about 1/2 c.


And still more pistachios!!  After having the carrots and green beans with pistachios for lunch, I strolled over to Scoops, the ice cream shop in LA that I won't live more than a mile away from.  They make about sixteen different flavors every day, from pretty standard to pretty crazy (they had pistachio-hefeweizen today, too).  It's about 2/3 dairy gelato, and 1/3 soy, with a sorbet or two thrown in.  Now, I don't bother with the storebought soy ice cream because it's just not good enough, but this stuff is fantastic, due in part to the slightly higher gelatoish temperature they keep the ice creams at--I bet you actually can't tell the difference between the dairy and soy ice creams here.

Sorry for posting this.  I'm guessing that if you live in LA and you're reading this, you probably already go here all the time, and if you're not in LA, you're wishing you were.  :)

Strawberry-Rhubarb and Pistachio (vegan) Ice Cream from Scoops


So many animals in my life this summer!  None of these animals are mine, but they all came from the mean streets of LA.  The kitty and the flower-smelling doggie both have amazing loving homes, but I believe the laughing dog on the right is still up for adoption--her name is Bunny, if you're interested.

1 comment:

christine said...

i had never eaten or made harissa until i saw your post. i just finished making a batch and it is incredible. i think i'm in love :) thanks so much!