I hope you have had a wonderful week from the last time I popped into your inbox...from the nearly summertime temperatures last Saturday to the flurry-filled sky on Tuesday (when I watched my daughter's softball game from insidemy car), I have had a great week full of fun in my kitchen! What have you been cooking and enjoying lately? Have I inspired your creativity in your own kitchen this week?
This week's recipe is one that I could eat everyday, it's that good. And it's thateasy. The inspiration comes from a variety of places - notably from Israel, where the country's 70th birthday is being celebrated this week!!! Israel is such a young country but with such a deep impact worldwide, in nearly every area of life & culture. For me, the food culture of Israel is so far-reaching and impressive. In fact, Israeli-influenced food and flavors are the makings of the most popular cuisine (currently) in the United States! World renowned chefs, including Yotam Ottolenghi, Michael Solomonov, Einat Admony and Alon Shaya are just some of the Israeli-born culinary superstars who are influencing the way I eat at home on a daily basis, as well as where people are choosing to eat when dining out.
My first trip to Israel was in April, 1994, and my vivid memory allows me to recall what I ate on Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's Independence Day). I was traveling with a large group of teens on the International March of the Living trip, and we spent the day in the countryside at a site of conflict during the Yom Kippur War (1973). While I don't remember the details of the day, I can picture what I ate for lunch! It was a boxed lunch, full of many containers: pickles, the ubiquitous Israeli salad, red cabbage salad, tahini, hummus, and lots of pita bread. Heaven, in a box...but at the time, those flavors felt foreign to me! We ate outside, under the blazing-hot sun, enjoying our picnic until our stomachs were full. If only we had a crisp cold beer to wash the meal down...
For this week's recipe, I'm channeling those flavors of my Yom Ha'atzmaut picnic of 24 years ago with the ingredients that are always in my pantry. Sweet potatoes are the workhorse of my kitchen, they find their way into many of my recipes during the cooler months of the year, and even into the early summer. I love how they can be eaten raw or cooked, cold or hot, dressed or plain. And my za'atar recipe is my go-to spice blend, I always have a jar of it on my countertop, right next to my salt grinder. Red cabbage and parsley are two fresh ingredients that I buy weekly, they're both inexpensive, nourishing and full of flavor when added to salads. If you've known me for more than a moment, you know that I find a way to use tahini in as many recipes as possible! When combined, these simple ingredients are definitely more than the sum of their parts, as the saying goes.
Find yourself a reason to make this delicious salad, even if you're not heading-out on a picnic anytime soon! And as always, let me know your thoughts - I love your feedback in my inbox.
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Za’atar-Spiced Sweet Potato Salad
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, washed & cut into 2” chunks
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t sea salt
juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 C tahini
1/4 C warm water
1 T za’atar
sea salt, to taste
1 1/2 C chopped red cabbage
1 C chopped parsley, woody stems removed
2 scallions, finely chopped
1-2 T za’atar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potato chunks in a large bowl. Pour extra-virgin olive oil over the sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Add cumin and sea salt, toss to coat the sweet potatoes with the oil and spice. Pour onto a large rimmed baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven to cool.
Make the dressing in the same bowl - no need to wash it! Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine with the cumin and oil left in the bowl. Pour the tahini and warm water in the bowl; the mixture will be difficult to stir - use a whisk to combine until completely smooth. Add the za’atar and taste for seasoning, adding some sea salt, to taste, if needed.
In a large bowl, combine the chopped red cabbage, chopped parsley and scallions. Add the sweet potatoes and half of the dressing. Toss gently to combine, being careful to keep the potatoes from breaking or getting mashed. If mixture seems too dry, add more dressing and gently stir to combine.
Serve salad in a shallow serving bowl or platter, with additional za’atar sprinkled over the top.
recipe yields 5-6 generous servings
double ingredients to serve larger crowd or to allow for leftovers
salad keeps well, chilled in a covered container, for 3-4 days; bring to room temperature and toss gently before serving