Over the weekend I tested and photographed a recipe for one of my clients that was an arugula salad topped with grilled peaches (from The Peach Truck), blue cheese, thinly sliced red onions and hazelnuts along with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. All very good and summer-like and beautiful.
Using the leftovers I put together pretty much the same thing for our supper with the added deliciousness of a Middle Eastern seasoned and grilled flank steak.
The first time I was really aware of Za’atar seasoning was while having dinner a couple of years ago at one of my favorite Nashville restaurants, Epice. They served us wonderful bread with a dipping sauce that was more flavorful than the norm. I inquired about the seasoning and was told it was Za’atar. Middle Eastern in origin, it has been one of my seasoning basics ever since. I put it on my roasted vegetables, in salad dressings and rub it into steaks or chicken, lamb or pork before grilling. You can now buy it at lots of grocery stores and markets. I buy mine at K & S World Market on Charlotte Avenue.
Thank you to all our Nashville international community who open markets and restaurants where we can find such wonderful things to eat. You have brought the world to us bite by delicious bite.
It’s very easy to make your own. All you need is minced fresh thyme or dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds, ground sumac and sea salt.
Grilled Za'atar Flank Steak and Peaches, Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Salad
- 4 handfuls of fresh baby arugula leaves
- 3-4 fresh peaches, pitted and cut into sections
- 3 tablespoon olive oil for brushing on peaches
- 1/4 cup olive oil whisked with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar & salt in a small bowl
- 1/2 of a small red onion very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts
- 1 to 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 to 1 lb piece of flank steak
- 2 tablespoons Za’atar (recipe to make your own below)
- sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Rub meat surface with olive oil and Za’atar on both sides. Let sit for 10 minutes while grill heats up. (You can also cook under oven broiler)
- Grill meat to your liking, but will be best if left pink inside. The meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill. Let meat rest while you make the salad.
- Brush peach wedges with olive oil and grill for about 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove from grill and set aside.
- Add thinly sliced red onions to the small bowl of olive oil-balsamic mixture. Toss onions to coat.
- Right before serving slice the flank steak very thin.
- Add arugula leaves to a large salad bowl. Top with onions, grilled peaches, steak, blue cheese and hazelnuts. Drizzle remaining olive oil-balsamic mixture or other dressing over salad and serve with additional salt and pepper.
Ingredients for Za’atar if you want to make your own: 4 tablespoons minced fresh thyme (or 3 of dried ground); 4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, 4 teaspoons ground sumac, 1 teaspoon sea salt.
Directions for making Za’atar: Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. If using fresh thyme then store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Teresa Blackburn http://www.foodonfifth.com http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com
I love Garden Parties. Whatever the season. May Garden Parties in Nashville are the best. Gardens are verdant, flowers blooming, herbs abundant and the weather is still cool enough to keep the mosquitos at bay. This was the setting yesterday for the 2015 Historic Germantown Garden Guzzle, an annual event that is now over 26 years old. The idea is to tour neighborhood gardens, drink wine and beer, have a few snacks along the way and convene with neighbors to celebrate the coming of summer. It is a unique Historic Germantown Neighborhood event and it has been mine, and Wouter’s, pleasure to have been a part of it for 10 years.
This year our garden was on the tour. As a garden host it is expected of one to have some sort of “bites” available for the “guzzlers”. After rummaging around in our cheese drawer and a quick trip to the grocery these are the “bites” I came up with. “Sun-dried Tomato-Fresh Dill-Cream Cheese & Feta with Zaatar Spread” for matzoh & water crackers and “Blackberry-Goat Cheese & Blue Cheese Dip” with sweet potato chips, flax-seed chips & crisp raisin bread plus a large bowl of chilled green grapes.
(I used my new “Hasami Porcelain” bowls from “Wilder” which is an amazing art and home goods shop in our neighborhood on 4th Avenue North.)
These were both “off the cuff” recipes based on what I had in the fridge and pantry. I was pretty confident about the sun-dried tomato-dill dip but not so sure about the combination of blackberries and blue cheese? A delicious combination on both counts!
Don’t you think this color is both fantastic and just a bit odd for anything other than ice cream? I do, but it was fantastic all the same.
Our dog Ella standing partially under the table hoping to catch a few bites for herself!
Wouter here is a bite for you…enjoy while in Amsterdam!
Here is an older blog post I did a few years ago on our “Guzzle”.
Sundried Tomato-Dill-Feta & Zaatar Spread and Blackberry-Goat Cheese & Blue Cheese Dip
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
- 2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
- 1 generous Tbsp Zaatar
- 1 pint fresh blackberries + extra for garnish
- 6 ozs blue cheese crumbled
- 8 ozs goat cheese softened
1. For Sun-dried Tomato-Dill Spread put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and spreadable. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve with crackers such as salted matzoh and water crackers.
2. For the Blackberry-Blueberry Dip put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust to your liking. Serve with chips such as sweet potato, flaxseed and raisin bread crisps.
Notes: Feel free to experiment and come up with your own “what do I have on hand” dips and spreads for summer parties. Keep it simple and fresh and it will be hard to go wrong.
Late last year…December to be exact….I was pushing my cart through Whole Foods shopping for a photo shoot. There is always a sense of urgency about this type of grocery store foray…time is of the essence…the quicker I get this done, and done well, the sooner I can be finished for the day….when out of the corner of my eye, while rolling out of produce toward seafood, I saw a display of stunning chartreuse Romanesco Cauliflowers. The brakes went on…I backed up…I was once again entranced by a vegetable! Such moments have often played out while I am shopping for one thing when I totally become obsessed by another thing…usually as in this case the exotic, the beautiful and the artful.
Looking more like an exotic creature of the sea than of terra firma these cauliflowers must make all others jealous. I call them the Cinderella of Cauliflowers!
I usually shy away from soups with lots of cream but for this soup just a splash was perfect.
Roasted Romanesco with garlic clove, shallots & olive oil to soften & bring out the flavor.
I topped our bowls of soup off with another recent culinary love, Za’atar. This Middle Eastern spice mix is getting added to everything I cook these days. This little obsession began a few months ago while eating at one of my favorite Nashville restaurants, Epice. Among other dishes they add it to little bowls of dipping oil for the bread they serve. Then my friend Nancy Vienneau served roasted head of cauliflower with a generous dusting of Za’atar this past New Year’s Eve. Two delicious experiences with Za’atar in one month!
Have you ever tasted Za’atar? It is at times a spice and a condiment. An earthy mixture of sumac berries, marjoram, thyme, basil, oregano, white sesame seeds & crunchy sea salt that is equally good smeared on a chicken or vegetables to roast. You can easily find it at most import groceries or, as I did, on-line.
A light sprinkle of Za’atar & Gruyere Cheese…..
Are you drawn to foods you have never cooked before? The exotic? Do you ever become obsessed with a comestible? What do you think this says about me…or you?
Romanesco Cauliflower Dressed with Za'atar
- 1 head of Romanesco Cauliflower (or any other Cauliflower will be fine), cut into florets
- 6 shallots, peeled & cut into pieces
- 4 garlic cloves
- Freshly ground black pepper & sea salt flakes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1/4 cup cream or half & half
- 2 Tbsp Za’atar (divided)
- Shredded Gruyere Cheese for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the cauliflower florets, shallot pieces & garlic cloves on a large baking sheet pan.. Drizzle with olive oil & toss to coat. Sprinkle with black pepper & sea salt.
- Roast for 15 minutes or until florets are softened, but not browned. Remove pan from oven.
- Add roasted vegetables along with the chicken stock to a pot. Cook over medium high heat until vegetables are softened. Remove pan from heat & let mixture cool for about 20 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Put pureed mixture back into pan and reheat on low right before serving.
- Stir in 1 Tbsp of the Za’atar while reheating soup.
- Add cream right before serving. Stir well. Remove from heat.
- To serve garnish each bowl with a light sprinkling of the remaining Za’atar & shredded Gruyere.