The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian: A mix that perks up a salad

Roasted Carrot, Green Bean and Coconut Salad (Marge Ely/Marge Ely)
Food and Dining Editor

An interviewer asked me recently how I make vegetarian cooking appealing to carnivores. The first step, of course, is to use vegetables that are as fresh as possible — in season, preferably locally grown — so they have the most flavor. But also on the list is my frequent use of global spice blends: Middle Eastern za’atar, Chinese five-spice, Indian masalas and one of my more recent favorites, Egyptian dukkah.

Dukkah is actually a blend of spices and nuts, which allows it to play the part of a condiment, too. Traditionally, it’s used as a dip with olive oil and bread, but I most frequently find myself sprinkling it onto roasted vegetables: before they go in the oven if they’re going to be quick (or if I don't mind some serious toasting of the spice mix), or afterward if I want something a little fresher tasting.

Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Washington Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Food section's Weeknight Vegetarian column. View Archive

As with other spice mixes, you’ll find it in many varieties, using different nuts and even, in the case of my favorite version made by Boston-area chef Ana Sortun, with coconut flakes included.

There’s a recipe for Sortun’s version in her lovely 2006 book “Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean,” but I picked up a batch from her bakery-shop Sofra in Cambridge, Mass., recently and have been plowing through it. She pairs it in her book (and restaurants) with a carrot puree, an amazing combination, so I often think of carrots when I pull it out of my pantry.

When the weather cooled off recently, I returned to roasting, and the last time I roasted carrots, I threw in some slim green beans for the last few minutes, then tossed them with a little dukkah, leftover rice and spinach leaves for a main-course salad. Large coconut flakes played off the coconut’s presence in the dukkah, which I also used to make the dressing.

It certainly wasn’t Egyptian, but then again, neither am I.



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