Warm Spinach & Pomegranate Salad with Walnuts and Pan Seared Halloom

Growing up in Karachi it seemed to me that all of my friends ate more or less the same food my family did. Except for one. My friend A has a Syrian grandmother and thanks to that influence the food at her house was always so different and so darned good. I shamelessly invited myself not only to her house, but to her grandmothers on more than one occasion because I simply could not get enough of the clean bright flavors. Everything was no muss no fuss delicious. I suspect the novelty of it made it seem even more delicious because once I was telling her something was really good and she said “it’s just aalu gosht with no masala for Godssake!”

Clearly she didn’t appreciate it as much as I did.

Warm Spinach Salad w Walnuts, Pomegranate and Pan Seared Halloom

This warm spinach salad is one of her family recipes. The lemony garlicky spinach provides the perfect base for some lovely healthy winter flavors. The bright pomegranate seeds and the toasted walnuts provide flavor and crunch that is perfectly complemented by pieces of pan seared halloom (my addition). For those of you unfamiliar with it Halloom is a salty firm Arab cheese that lends itself well to grilling or searing as the insides melt, but the outside will turn a lovely crispy brown while still holding shape. It is now commonly available in most grocery stores in Toronto much to the delight of Zara, my 4 year old Halloom fiend.

This salad comes together quickly and is infinitely adaptable. Just use the spinach as a base and add whatsoever your heart desires. I imagine it would be equally good with some feta or goat cheese and I happen to know it is yummy without any cheese at all. We usually have prefried onions in the pantry (readily available and they keep well), but if you don’t then you are welcome to make your own or omit them entirely.

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Thai Noodle Salad – A Guest Post at Aharam

There are some bloggers whose frequent and delicious looking posts lead me to believe that if I were to drop in unannounced any day of the week they would offer up the kind of food I make for guests. Aruna at Aharam is one of them. Not only is she always whipping up something amazing, but she also has a knack of seamlessly relaying some really interesting information about different traditions and the provenance of many foods.

When she asked me if I was interested in writing a guest post for her blog the answer was a resounding yes and while I was tempted to share something sweet – you know, largely because I wanted to eat it – I instead chose to go with this lovely noodle salad that has big bold flavors, incredible freshness, but with the comfort of noodles. My friend Marium introduced me to this salad and suggested the addition of the jalapeno, but the original recipe is from the beautiful blog Noni’s Place.

To read more hop on over to Aharam and do check out Aruna’s other posts. Happy reading!

 

Thai Crunch Salad with an Absolutely AMAZING Peanut Dressing

Okay so here’s the thing. I am originally from Pakistan and well… traditionally back in the motherland we aren’t so big on raw food i.e. salad. The only ‘traditional’ salad is ‘kachumbar’, a desi spin on pico de gallo. It basically involves some chopped cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, green chilies with a hefty amount of lemon or vinegar and a little salt/pepper.

But this salad – or rather this dressing – this dressing changes everything. I could eat it with anything and everything and had this immensely irrationally urge to hoard it and sit in my closet and eat it all (with the actual salad itself ofcourse). It admittedly has a lot of parts, but they come together so beautifully (and quickly) that I would – and will – make this ten times over. The velvetiness of the peanut butter, the sweetness of the brown sugar, the tartness of the lime – it’s a big ol’ party in my mouth.

Crunchy Thai Salad with an AMAZING Peanut Dressing

At this point I realize it’s a little odd to gush about salad dressing so much, but trust me, this is 100% gushworthy. The recipe is from the amazing blog Once Upon a Chef. I made some changes to the greens, but out of convenience more than anything else which is why I am posting the recipe as it was originally written.

Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing
Serves 4
Thai Peanut Dressing:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from one lime
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar (I used brown)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1-inch square piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
Salad:
4 cups chopped Napa cabbage or shredded coleslaw mix (I like to toss in a little shredded red cabbage for color)
1 cup prepared shredded carrots
red bell pepper, thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 small English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup cooked and shelled edamame
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro
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Line up all the ingredients, pull out your blender and combine everything but the cilantro in the blender until smooth. Then, add your cilantro and pulse a few times – too much and you will have a green dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to serve
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For the salad, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. If serving right away, drizzle the peanut dressing over top and toss; otherwise, serve the dressing on the side so the salad doesn’t get soggy.
Thai Crunch Salad w an AMAZING Peanut Dressing
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Lime Cumin Quinoa

You know that feeling you get when you read a recipe, just know that it will be delicious, and are totally pumped because you have everything to make it? In my case that was recently quite short lived as I proceeded to start making Indira’s Foolproof Lime Cumin Quinoa only to realize that I had used up my can of black beans the day before. Sigh.

But I really wanted Quinoa you know? In my head it was going to make up for all the ice creams and cookies I’d been having. So I did the only logical thing and powered on and boy am I glad I did. This was easy, quick and extremely flavorful. I resisted my very Pakistani urge to add green chilies and/or chili powder to this, but I imagine that those would make this dish even yummier.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, apparently quinoa’s magic powers do not include erasing the after effects of consuming my Milk Chocolate Toffee Crunch Ice Cream. Oh well.

My omission of black beans aside the only other change I made in this recipe was to throw in a handful of roasted cherry tomatoes. I love the sweet caramelly taste of roasted tomatoes and when cherry tomatoes start to come into season I tend to buy them, roast them and keep them handy. They are great as a side at brunch and a wonderful way to add more depth into light summer dishes like this one.

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