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Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad


The fall eggplant harvest has begun, and I had two deeply purple orbs hanging from the plant, ready to pick. But what do to with them?

I found the answer in Clifford A. Wright’s exhaustive but, unfortunately out of print cookbook, “Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors d’Oeuvre, Meze and More”. (A few used copies can be found, and if you like foods of the Mediterranean, I would recommend it highly.)

He has a number of eggplant options, but the one that appealed most to me was a salad or spread made with toasted almonds, Greek yogurt and pomegranate molasses. “This Turkish salad served as a meze is called nazuktan and is typical in central Anatolia,” he writes. “It is made in a number of different ways. Some cooks stir in pomegranate molasses, a taste I like in this recipe.”

You can find pomegranate molasses in specialty markets and Middle Eastern grocers, such as Ali Baba, Salaam International Food Market and Central Market.

Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad

1 1/2 pounds eggplant
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup labna or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
Salt, to taste3 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves

Anatolian Creamy Eggplant and Almond Salad

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the eggplant in a baking dish with a little water or on a rack and roast until the skin blisters black, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven an , when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and stem and remove as many seeds as you can.

While the eggplant is roasting, place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake until golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Set aside 6 or 7 almonds and grind the rest coarsely in a food processor.

Chop the eggplant and place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and stir in the Greek yogurt, chopped almonds, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses, and season with salt.

Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the mint and garnish with the whole almonds.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors d’Oeuvre, Meze and More” by Clifford A. Wright

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Red Cabbage Salad with Anchovies


Red Cabbage Salad with Anchovies

This refreshing salad needs to pickle in a vinegar solution for 24 hours before you add the dressing. The end result is tangy with a rich mouthfeel. It has a very Mediterranean flavor.

It should come as no surprise then that the recipe is from Clifford A. Wright’s wonderful collection “Little Foods of the Mediterranean,” which is sadly out of print though used copies can be found on the Internet.

Wright offers a short history of the salad: “This Catalan recipe, called amanida de col llombarda amb seitons, literally means ‘salad of Lombardy cabbage with anchovies.’ Lombardy cabbage refers to red cabbage. I’ve adapted this recipe from Marimar Torres’ ‘The Catalan Country Kitchen,’ published in 1992. It is best served at room temperature.”

In my haste to get a number of dishes out for a recent party, I forgot the parsley. It didn’t seem to be needed. Leftovers also keep well, though you should bring it up to room temperature after removing it from the refrigerator.

Red Cabbage Salad with Anchovies

1 pound red cabbage, cored and finely shredded
3 tablespoons fine sherry wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
6 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/4 cup extra-virgin  olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped freshly parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, combine the cabbage, vinegar, salt and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until a lavender color, about 15 minutes. Let stand, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours.

Place the anchovies and olive oil in a small food processor or blender and process until smooth. Drain the cabbage and squeeze out the excess moisture. In a large mixing bowl, toss the cabbage with the anchovy mixture and parsley. Correct the seasonings and toss again with black pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings.

From “Little Foods of the Mediterranean” by Clifford  A. Wright

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