Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar

13 Oct

Here is a great recipe from the fabulous Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I love this cookbook, because everything I have made from it has been delicious – but I admit I have not made too many of the recipes because a lot of them are very involved and use a lot of sometimes-hard-to-find ingredients.

This one is relatively simple, and these days, tahini and za’atar (a Middle Eastern herb/spice blend) are relatively easy to find. If you don’t have a Middle Eastern grocery in your area, you can order them online.

The book calls for the squash to be roasted with the skin on. I did not do this because I started with a gigantic butternut squash. In addition to this dish, I made a batch of Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili and froze a bunch of squash cubes to make another soup when the chili is gone. So I used butternut squash cubes instead of wedges and they work perfectly fine. You can save some time and energy by buying pre-peeled and pre-cut squash cubes.

The dish has an interesting combination of flavors, colors and textures. It works well as an appetizer or as a side dish.

I changed the directions slightly, because the onions take less time to roast than the squash, so rather than starting them at the same time, I suggest roasting the squash alone first, then adding the onions.

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash (about 2¼ lb.), cut into ¾-in. x 2.5-inch wedges
2 red onions, cut vertically into 1¼-inch wedges
3½ Tbs. olive oil
3½ Tbs. light tahini paste
1½ Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. water
1 small clove garlic, crushed and chopped fine
3½ Tbs. pine nuts
1 Tbs. za’atar
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Put the squash in a large mixing bowl, add 3 Tbs. of the oil, 1 tsp. salt and some black pepper and toss well. Spread on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast for 30 to 40 minutes (peeled cubes may take a little less time).

After 15 minutes, add the onions, and stir well to get the onions coated with the oil. Stir frequently so everything cooks evenly. When the squash and the onions are fully cooked and have browned somewhat, reove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Make the sauce: place the tahini in a small bowl and add the lemon juice, water, garlic and ¼ tsp. salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary.

Put the remaining 1½ tsp. oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and ½ tsp. salt and cook for about 2 minutes until the nuts are golden brown (be careful, because they can burn really easily!) Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.

To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle over the tahini. Sprinkle the pine nuts and their oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.

Serves 4


Jerusalem Spinach Salad

3 Dec

Jerusalem spinach saladAfter a weekend of gorging, I thought everyone might be ready for a lighter recipe!

This recipe is adapted (very slightly) from one in Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. It’s easy and delicious.

The book is absolutely gorgeous and would make an excellent gift or look good on a coffee table. Many of the recipes are interesting, although some of the ingredients may be difficult to find in the United States. We’re lucky to live in an area with a large Middle Eastern population, so I had no problem finding pita or sumac powder. I didn’t have any chile flakes (which are easy enough to find) so I used cayenne pepper, about half as much as the recipe calls for.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. white vinegar
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
¼ lb. pitted dates
¼ cup olive oil
2 small pitas (or one large one) roughly torn into 1½-inch pieces
½ cup unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. sumac
½ tsp. chile flakes
5 oz. (half a standard-sized package) baby spinach
2 Tbs. lemon juice
Salt

Directions:

Put the vinegar, onions and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain out any residual vinegar and discard.

Heat the 3 Tbs. olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the pita and almonds and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, chile flakes and ¼ tsp. salt. Set aside to cool.

Just before serving, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates and red onion, the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt.

Serves 4

Jerusalem Noodle Kugel

24 Jan

ImageA kugel is a pudding. A Jerusalem kugel uses caramelized sugar, which gives it a nice, deep, brown color, lots of oil, and lots of black pepper, which makes it both sweet and spicy. Most recipes call for cooking the noodles first, then caramelizing the sugar and pouring it over the noodles, then adding the eggs. I used to do it this way, but it was a little tricky, because when the caramelized sugar hit the noodles, it tended to form chunks and not coat the noodles evenly. This problem was solved when I found a Jerusalem kugel recipe in the New York Times. It’s a little time intensive, but it’s easier to get a good result.

You still have to be careful when caramelizing the sugar. If you let it go even 30 seconds too long, it will burn. And if you’ve never done it, you may not know what to expect. This is what happens when you mix the sugar with the oil and heat it: First the sugar will seem to dissolve, but much of the oil will remain separate. As the mixture continues to cook, it will seem to solidify as the oil is absorbed, and you’ll have clumps of moistened sugar. Keep stirring. Finally the sugar will start to melt and turn brown. Stir it constantly and watch it like a hawk. As soon as the color is golden brown, almost as dark as you want, pull it off the flame – I say “almost” because the hot syrup will continue to cook for short while.

I make it a little differently than the original New York Times recipe, which calls for 12 ounces of noodles (actually, they call for a mixture of angel hair pasta and fettucine), ½ cup oil, 1½  cup sugar and 4 eggs. The Times also suggests baking the kugel in a Bundt or tube pan. but I prefer an oblong pan.

This makes a very large kugel, enough to feed 12 or more. To make a smaller kugel, use 8 ounces of noodles, ⅓ cup oil, 1¼ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 cup sugar and 3 eggs, and bake in an 8-inch square pan.

Ingredients:

1¾ cups sugar
5 fluid oz. vegetable oil, plus a little more for greasing the pan
6 cups water
2½ tsp. salt
¾ to 1 tsp. ground black pepper
16 oz. package egg noodles
5 large eggs, well beaten

Directions:

Place 1 cup of sugar and the 5 fluid oz. of oil (between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup) in a heavy 8-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Stir constantly over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes, about 10 to 20 minutes. (See comments above for helpful hints.) Remove from heat and cool for about 15 minutes; the sugar will harden. (Be sure to take your wooden spoon or other stirring implement out of the pot before the mixture cools!)

Pour 6 cups of water into the pan with the sugar mixture and bring to the boil. The hardened sugar will slowly dissolve. Add the salt, pepper and remaining sugar. When the water boils, add the noodles. Cook until the water is almost completel absorbed/evaporated, stirring occasionally so that the noodles don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and cool slightly, stirring occasionally to release the heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the oven is ready, add the eggs to the noodles and stir well. Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake for about an hour, until the top is nicely browned. Cut into squares to serve.