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Joyce Goldstein: Mediterranean Fresh

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List of viewable recipes from "Mediterranean Fresh" by Joyce Goldstein

Today's guest blogger is Joyce Goldstein whose latest book, Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings, is nominated for a James Beard award in the Single Subject Category.  

In Mediterranean Fresh, Joyce, who has devoted her culinary career to Mediterranean cooking, transforms her knowledge and skills into a wonderful collection of one-plate salads that will redefine your definition of salad from much more than merely tossed greens.

We asked her to share with us her favorite Mediterranean flavors and ingredients...

My Mediterranean Favorites

by Joyce Goldstein

ImageThree of my favorite Mediterranean ingredients are lemon, pomegranate, and pimenton.  The latter two may be new to your kitchen, but please don't take our familiar lemons for granted.  I would be lost without lemons in my kitchen. The juice and zest of this beloved citrus fruit add brightness and acidity to many a dish.  Lemon juice is also the basis of many a salad dressing where vinegar might be too assertive. And it's great in a marinade for fish and seafood, meat or poultry.  A squeeze of lemon on fish just off the grill, on sautéed spinach, or on a grilled steak is the perfect finishing touch.  And salt preserved lemons add a distinctive touch to Moroccan cooking and can add intrigue to a salad dressing or marinade as well.  
Before lemons came to the Middle East from China, tart pomegranates were a source of acidity, along with sour grape juice. Fabulous pomegranates are cultivated in California, but they are much sweeter than those from the Middle East. To get the amount of acidity traditionally produced by this spectacular fruit, we need either to reduce the juice by half or to use tart pomegranate concentrate. Most of us like the convenience of bottled pomegranate juice but you can juice your own. It's messy. Wear a plastic garbage bag over your clothes because the pomegranates spray madly. Roll the pomegranates around in your hands to loosen the pulp and release more juice. Cut in half and place on the juicer. Back up a bit and squeeze. If you do not want to use bottled juice and do not want to squeeze your own, you may use thick, tart pomegranate molasses that you find in stores selling Middle Eastern food. I recommend either Carlo or Cortas brands. Pomegranate molasses is used in Persian and Middle Eastern cooking. I even have found Renaissance era recipes from Venice and Spain that use it as well. Pomegranate is great for marinades for pork, poultry and lamb and caramelizes spectacularly when the food is grilled. It can also be used in salad dressings, with a few drops lemon juice, sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar added for accent. That's literally a few drops, not more. You don't want to lose the pomegranate!   And don't forget the salt, essential to bring up the flavors of this wonderful tart/sweet fruit. .  

Pimentón or paprika is a signature flavor component used in Spanish cooking, derived from a New World pepper plant. It is used to color sausages, stews and soups and is the most widely used spice in the Spanish kitchen. It is similar to Hungarian paprika but is a deeper red and is less finely ground. A new favorite spice in the kitchen is Pimentón de la Vera, a smoked paprika from the region of Extremadura. It comes dulce or sweet, agridulce or bittersweet, and picante or hot. The signature smoky flavor comes from slowly drying the peppers in racks suspended over smoldering oak fires, a process that takes about 10 days to 2 weeks. They are then stone ground. Dishes seasoned with pimenton de la Vera taste as if they have spent some time on the grill without you ever having to light a fire. Now that is a time saving plus. 

ImageFigs, Almonds, Greens and Cabrales Cheese

From Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings by Joyce Goldstein (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008)

Ripe figs, slightly cracked and bursting with sweet juices, are the sexiest Mediterranean fruit. Black Mission, Green Adriatic, Brown Turkey, I love them all and eat them out of hand; sometimes I just nibble alternating bites of sweet fig with bites of salty cheese. I love to serve figs draped in prosciutto, with a squeeze of lime juice and some cracked black pepper, or grilled in a prosciutto or pancetta wrap.  Ripe figs are the stars of this salad.  As a little note of contrast, you might want to add some whole mint leaves along with the salad greens. Cabrales is a Spanish blue veined cheese. You may use any other mild blue in its place.

Serves 6

  • 6 large handfuls of assorted mild greens or frisée
  • ½ cup toasted slivered almonds
  • About ½ cup Pomegranate dressing   see below
  • 12 ripe figs, cut in quarters  
  • ¼ pound Cabrales cheese or some other creamy blue cheese

Place the lettuces and almonds in a salad bowl.  Toss with half the dressing.  Arrange on 6 salad plates. Top with figs and crumbled cheese and drizzle with remaining dressing.  .

Note: If you use hazelnuts instead of almonds, use nut oil based pomegranate dressing 

Pomegranate Citrus Dressing made from bottled or fresh juice

From Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings by Joyce Goldstein (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008)

Yield: scant cup

  • 1 cup pomegranate juice, reduced to ½ cup   
  • 4 tablespoons mild olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or more to taste (or add a drop of sherry vinegar)  
  • Salt

Whisk all together in a bowl.

Pomegranate Dressing from Concentrate

From Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings by Joyce Goldstein (W.W. Norton& Company, Inc., 2008)

Yield: about 1 cup dressing

  • 6 tablespoons pomegranate molasses  
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup mild olive oil or a bit more
  • Salt

 Whisk all together in a bowl.

Pomegranate and Nut Dressing  

From Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings by Joyce Goldstein (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008)

Yield: half cup plus 2 tablespoons

  • 4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or1/2 cup reduced juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil or hazelnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or mild oil like canola
  • Salt  

Whisk all together in a bowl.

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.


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