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Quick and Easy Midsummer Meals
Here we are in the middle of summer, already!
With a month long hiatus sequestered in the studio working on a large painting that seemed to go on and on, I realized that with the summer heat and little time to spare, cooking light nourishing fare with the added perk of reheating for a repeat performance was the way to go.
No need to be slaving away in the kitchen while summer passes you by!
Dukkah, “to pound” in Arabic, is a traditional Egyptian spice mix that is trending across the globe thanks to the Australians who took to this exotic blend, brought to Australia by Arabic immigrants, and beamed it to the rest of the western world. You can even find Dukkah at Trader Joe’s in America for $26 for 3.3 oz., but why not have some fun and make your own at a fraction of the cost?
Dukkah is a blend of pounded dry roasted nuts, seeds, spices, pepper, and salt. From there you can expand the mix with additions of dried herbs, chilies, chick pea flour (also lentil flour), and pinches of aromatic spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, or clove. This really is a cook’s moment to get creative and come up with your very own house blend. Wonderful sprinkled over soups, salads, vegetables, grains, and as a spice rub for meats and seafood.
I would suggest trying the basic recipe the first time around and then expand the recipe to suit your own taste preferences. You will surely become addicted to Dukkah and want to keep some on hand to dress up those quick summer meals.
While the recipe that follows may seem complicated, it actually is not, and once you’ve put it up you are all set to try it out in a myriad of ways. A quick summer meal with Dukkah roasted chicken breasts will follow in my next post.
Dukkah (basic recipe) makes 1 ¼ cups
- ½ cup nuts, or a combination of ( hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, or peanuts)
- 2 tablespoons sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns (black, white, or green)
- 3/4 tablespoon flakey sea salt
Additional basic options:
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon anise seeds
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (or ½ teaspoon hot paprika)
You may also want to try the addition of dried herbs such as thyme, marjoram, legume flours, and aromatic spices in later renditions.
As mentioned, everything in this recipe is dry roasted (toasted) so select a stainless or cast iron skillet for toasting seeds and preheat the oven to 350F/180C for dry roasting the nuts
Place the nuts in a baking tray and dry roast for 20 minutes, or until lightly colored. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Toasting the seeds requires different timings for each, so it is best to place each in small separate bowls before you begin toasting. Place the skillet over medium heat and let it heat up for several minutes, then toast as follows, tossing frequently as they toast and returning each to individual bowls promptly to cool.
- Toast the sunflower or pumpkin seeds until they begin to pop; 2-3 minutes.
- Toast the cumin seeds for 30 seconds to 1 minute until lightly colored and aromatic.
- Toast the coriander seeds for 1 minute or until beginning to pop.
- Toast the sesame seeds for 1 minute or until they begin to pop.
- Toast the peppercorns 1 ½ minutes or until they begin to pop.
If you are adding any additional seeds, toast as above.
Now you are ready to pound, actually break down is a better description, all the ingredients. I found using a spice mill works the best for all the seeds. Several pulses will break the seeds down without pulverizing them, which you do not want to do. Place the all the milled seeds in a common bowl and set aside.
Once all the seeds are milled it’s time to get out a mini food processor. Add the toasted nuts to the processor and pulse several times until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Add the prepared toasted seeds, the salt, and any additional herbs, spices, legume flours, or aromatic spices if using. Pulse several times until the Dukkah resembles a textured meal. Voila!
Allow to cool completely and then transfer to air tight jars for storage, refrigerating or freezing for long term freshness.