Pomegranate Glazed Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel & Leeks

Salmon with Pomegranate Glaze and Roasted Fennel

Let’s get this out of the way upfront: there’s a meat-and-fruit tradition in cooking that we’re just not a hundred percent on board with. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that kind of combination, but the problem occurs when the fruit is overly sweet and there’s nothing to balance it out. When you have a fatty cut of meat — such as lamb — or fish, such as the wild salmon we use here — it benefits from being cut with an acidic component. It’s the same reason we use oil and vinegar together in a salad dressing. 

We’ll often use lemon in our dishes to contribute that balance, but this week we’re looking at how pomegranate molasses, made into a pomegranate glaze, can lend a similar complexity to the rich flavor of roasted salmon.

Salmon with Pomegranate Glaze and Roasted Fennel

We’ve all got that ingredient somewhere in the pantry. It’s the jar of something you picked up at the store, maybe on a whim or maybe with a specific purpose in mind, but then it got forgotten and languished in your kitchen cupboard until you re-discovered it and thought “aha! I know what to do with that”. Pantry space is not infinite (we can’t all have a TARDIS) and there’s a limit to how many items we can store that we aren’t using on a regular basis. For us, this ingredient is pomegranate molasses.

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Crispy Falafel with Homemade Pita and Lemon-Garlic Tahini Sauce

Falafel with Pita bread and Tahini Sauce

Falafel – crispy fried nuggets of ground chickpeas, flavored with herbs and spices – are an essential Middle Eastern dish. Serve them as a meze appetizer with Lemon-Garlic Tahini Sauce, or stuff them into warm, home-made Pita Bread with a veggie salad. 

All right, we’ll admit it: we’re unapologetically carnivorous. I mean, we’ll try anything, more or less, but when it comes down to “what to make for dinner”, at least a few times a week our protein of choice will be some kind of meat, hopefully raised and butchered responsibly, but still animal. And those of you who’ve been following us for a while know our shtick: we’re not adherents to any one particular diet or another, we don’t do paleo or Atkins or South Beach or whatever, we’re just home cooks who swear a lot and occasionally drop whole dishes of cauliflower cheese on the floor. But we do love vegetables, and the environment, and we also have friends who are vegan, or gluten free, or both, and who will squint and poke us in the ribs from time to time and say “What about me, bud? What about me?” These falafels, my friend, go out to you.

I don’t know why it took us so long to blog a falafel recipe. Emily grew up going to Mamoun’s (the best falafel joint in NYC), and her college years were spent bunked up with vegetarians, Moosewood cookbooks and, frankly, a severe lack of funds. This gave her a pretty good foundation in the dishes that could be put together with varieties of grains, beans and rice. And Matt rarely meets a bean he doesn’t like, but is frequently disappointed by boring veggie burgers. But these spicy deep fried delights? Yeah, these tick all our boxes. While the dried chickpeas require an overnight soak, and the mixture has to chill for a couple of hours, the rest is easy and actually a lot of fun to make. And the good thing is, you don’t even need a deep fryer.

Crispy Falafel

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Homemade Pita Bread

Perfect homemade pita pockets served fresh out of the oven, using a combination of white and wholewheat flour to create just the right chewy texture. Use them in a Greek sandwich, or tear them up for dipping.

When putting together recipes for falafels and tahini sauce, we realized that using store-bought pita as an accompaniment would be a bit of a cheat. Certainly when the process for making it at home is as easy as David Tanis makes it in this New York Times recipe, it’s almost more effort to actually go to the store. Pita is leavened, so it does need a rising stage, but it’s nowhere near as time-consuming as for more substantial breads. In fact, the whole process of making homemade pita can be completed in less than two hours. And it’s a lot of fun!

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Marinated Goat Cheese with Garlic and Thyme

Marinated Goat Cheese with Garlic and Thyme

For an almost effortless way to a more interesting cheese platter, marinate fresh goat cheese in olive oil with herbs and spices. Use it as a topping for crackers, a spread for sandwiches, or crumbled into salads.

Tangy and creamy, fresh goat cheese (also known as chèvre) is delicious right out of the package, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get creative with it. Marinating it in extra-virgin olive oil with flavorings like garlic, thyme, fennel seed, and lemon peel infuses it with flavor. It can be used the way a regular goat cheese would: crumbled in salads, spread on a warm baguette as part of a sandwich, or, our favorite, served simply with crackers.

Marinated Goat Cheese with Garlic and Thyme
Garlic, lemon peel, pink peppercorns, red chili flakes, bay leaves and fennel seed

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s Chermoula Roasted Eggplant

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Chermoula Eggplant

We roasted eggplant until it became soft and silky and topped it with Chermoula (a North African spice mix with garlic and preserved lemon). Sprinkled with tart feta cheese and fresh herbs. 

This dish is adapted from a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s brilliant cookbook, Jerusalem. Ottolenghi is an Israeli-born British chef who, among other things, writes one of my favorite recipe columns in the Guardian. He’s a master of incredibly flavorful vegetable dishes, and has a particular knack for eggplant.

Eggplant can be controversial: some love it, some hate it. If you’re on the hate side, it might be because you haven’t had it cooked well. Too much oil and it can be greasy, not enough and it turns rubbery. But grilled with a miso glaze, or roasted with Middle Eastern spices, it’s absolutely delicious.

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Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Feta

Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Feta

Roasted cauliflower flavored with cumin and served with a feta cream cheese dip.

Post update: I wrote a cauliflower article in fall 2016 for our local (Beacon-based) food and restaurant magazine The Valley Table. Hop over and take a look!

Before we moved to Brooklyn (so way before we headed up to Beacon), Matt and I lived in one of the most cross-cultural neighborhoods in New York City, Astoria, Queens. It was like the real-life version of one of those 90s comedies. You know, the ones where the cab driver is sitting next to a lawyer who’s sitting next to a dominatrix and they’re all eating souvlaki prepared by a Sikh cook and served by a Russian waitress. It was like that.

It’s still one of the best places in the city to find ingredients from all over the world, especially Mexico, India and Greece. If the area is known for one type of food in particular, it’s Greek. Our weekends often involved a stop at Titan Foods where we would spend most of our rent money on olives and Feta cheese. If you’re ever in the area, check it out. It’s like the Disney-land of Feta up in there, not even kidding.

In this case we’re using feta as the sauce (more of a dip, really), for some incredibly delicious cumin-dusted roasted cauliflower.

Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Feta
The Whipped Feta Dip is delicious with crudités or chips, or as a spread for sandwiches.

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