Given the cold winds of this week I thought I’d bring you a warm salad. Something that makes use of the lovely Spring veggies that keep on coming despite the plummeting temperatures (it was snowing in Glasgow on Monday!), but with a warmth from the roasted salmon and potatoes. I rolled the just-boiled eggs in za’atar for an earthy, herby kick but if you don’t fancy making the za’atar, the dish will be just as good without. Za’atar is a wonderfully fragrant dried herb blend, featuring toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, oregano and marjoram with a citrus tang coming from the sumac.
The recipe varies across the Middle East, from region to region and, probably, from family to family. Pre-packaged blends do the job but, if you have the time, it’s worth making your own. You’ll be rewarded with an intense, aromatic spice blend that you can then use as a marinade for roasted meat, veg (it makes a particularly good counterpoint to the sweetness of squash) or, perhaps simplest of all, as a dip- dunk a piece of ciabatta or pitta bread into olive oil and then into a dish of za’atar- heaven!
If you wish to make the za’atar here is one of many possible recipes for it: 4 tsp toasted sesame seeds, 4 tsp dried oregano, 4 tsp dried thyme, 2 tsp dried marjoram, 4 tsp sumac, 1 tsp salt- mix together then keep in an airtight jar.
The dessert is a variation on that classic, affogato, where a ball of sweet vanilla ice cream is offset by a piping hot, bitter espresso being poured around it. In this instance, the ice is espresso-flavoured and the sweet comes from the whipped cream. I particularly liked the contrast of textures- the crunch of the ice crystals followed by the soft, pillowy cream. I think this dessert is going to be on heavy rotation this summer!
Main Course: Warm Salmon Salad with Spring Veg & Za’atar Eggs
Ingredients: 3-4 salmon fillets, knob of butter, 250g new potatoes, 150g mange tout, bunch of spring onions, 8 radishes, 4 eggs, 100g edamame beans, zest and juice of 1 lemon, 2-3 tbsp walnut oil, 1 tbsp chopped dill, 1 tbsp za’atar, salt and pepper.
Method: Pre heat the oven to 200C and grease a baking dish. Place the salmon fillets in the dish and top with a knob of butter and a good seasoning, then roast for 15 mins.
Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to the boil and simmer for 12-15 mins. Add the mange tout and edamame beans and spring onions 2-3 mins from the end of cooking.
Pop the eggs into a pan of boiling water for 5 mins then into a bowl of ice water. Once cool, peel and halve then roll gently in the za’atar.
Make the dressing- whisk together the oil, lemon zest and juice plus the dill then season with salt and pepper. Drizzle this over the veg while still warm.
Place the veg on a platter alongside chunks of the roasted salmon, and scatter with slices of radish and several uncooked mange tout (so you have a mix of raw and cooked mange tout for variety) then drizzle with the lemon dressing.
Lastly, add the za’atar eggs.
Pudding: Espresso Granita
Ingredients: 50g espresso powder, 110g granulated sugar, 680ml water, 3 strips of lemon peel and juice of 1/4 lemon.
Method: Place the water, espresso powder and sugar in a pan- bring to the boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Once at a boil, remove from the heat and add the lemon peel and juice. Stir and allow to cool. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal loaf tin.
Pop this into the fridge for an hour to chill and then into the freezer.
Break up the ice crystals every hour with a fork. It should take about 5 -6 hours to fully freeze.
The granita can be served on its own or with whipped cream.
See more of Jo’s recipes on her blog Jo Clare Orr Food