If the sign of a good cookbook is that it makes you want to start cooking immediately, then Seven Spoons is a great cookbook. Tara O’Brady‘s food shots do for me what tiger balm to the temples, or maybe a Hawaiian holiday does for other people—they take me to a better place. (They also take me to a hungry place, but I can’t think of food I’d rather be this famished for).
Tara’s blog Seven Spoons was a favorite with Fran and me during our Food News Journal days. At one point I found I had to stop visiting her blog every day because it was just too distracting. I’d plan to pop over to her home page, have a quick peek at whatever recipe she was whipping up, then get on with my day. Well good luck with that! Minutes turned to hours as a simple page view would morph into an unplanned trip to the kitchen for some mid-morning cooking (the perils of working at home).
There are worse ways to spend your time, obviously. It was a daytime detour I looked forward to, with benefits. And now, now I can hold a full volume of her evocative photographs and recipes right in my hands. (or hide it under my desk when I need to get some work done). This is a cookbook I’ve been waiting for, and a cookbook I’ll be cooking from, and I’m in a better place because of it.
“Fattoush is a Lebanese chopped vegetable salad with bread, seasoned with sumac. That dusted maroon, provocatively sour spice electrifies everything it touches with a vividly citric bite. Some fattoush recipes have yogurt or buttermilk in the dressing; this one is laid atop a bed of unadulterated labneh. The result is astoundingly refreshing; it is a natural, equal partner to barbecued meats, lentil koftas, or feta, fresh or baked.” – Tara O’Brady
Ten Speed Press
- 1 lemon
- ½ cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground sumac, plus more for garnish
- 1½ teaspoons dried mint
- Medium-grain kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tomatoes, a mix of sizes and varieties is lovely
- 8 ounces (225 g) podded fresh or frozen fava beans, blanched
- 1 English cucumber, cut lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 2 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 radishes, sliced wafer thin
- Bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems
- Small bunch of mint
- 2 pita breads, split into layers and toasted on low until dry
- 2 cups (480 ml) labneh or Greek-style yogurt
- Smoked paprika, for sprinkling (optional)
- In a small bowl, finely grate the zest of half the lemon on top of the olive oil. Squeeze in most of the juice from the lemon, about 3 tablespoons. Whisk in the garlic, sumac, and mint and season with salt and pepper. The vinaigrette should be quite sharp; add more lemon juice if it’s warranted. Set aside.
- Cut the tomatoes into reasonably bite-size pieces, in chunks, quarters, or in halves for smaller varieties. A combination of shapes adds to the rustic visual charm of the salad, as well as textural interest. Tumble the tomatoes, favas, cucumber, green onions, and radishes into a large bowl. Pick the small leaves off the parsley and mint, and keep to one side. Coarsely chop the remaining leaves and add to the bowl. Drizzle most of the dressing over the salad and toss. Check for seasoning, adding dressing by the tablespoon as needed, then toss again. Tear most of pita into the bowl and give a few gentle folds to incorporate. Let the salad marinate for 10 minutes.
- Divide the labneh among 4 serving plates or spread across a large platter. Drizzle with any remaining dressing, then turn the fattoush out over the top with the reserved herbs and the last of the pita. Sprinkle with more sumac and the paprika. Dig in.