Cooking with Spicy New Flavors

Try these great recipes with pomegranate molasses, Espelette pepper and fennel pollen

by Susan Spungen
Espellete peppers
Photograph: Shutterstock.com
  • 2 small Yukon gold potatoes (cut into 1-inch pieces, skin on)
  • 2 plum tomatoes (or 1 large regular ripe tomato)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 portobello mushroom
  • 6 to 8 pitted black olives
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (flat leaf)

1. Cook potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Drain, and set aside.

2. Dice tomatoes, reserving their juice.

3. Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the potato cubes. Sauté, about 3 to 5 minutes, turning them from time to time, until they are golden brown.

4. Meanwhile, wash the mushroom and cut off the stalk and discard. Pat the mushroom dry with paper towels.

5. Remove the potatoes from the skillet, and keep them warm in a low oven. Add the mushroom, and sauté it, turning it over a few times, until it exudes its juice and starts to brown. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice, and the olives. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the tomatoes have reduced to a sauce (if it gets too dry, moisten with a dash of water or dry white wine). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the mushroom on the plate that holds the potatoes, and surround it with the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Lamb Merguez Sausage with Mint Couscous, Watercress and Endive
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • ¼ pound merguez sausage*
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • Coarse sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1 to 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup watercress leaves
  • 1 small endive, cut vertically into thin slivers
  • ½ cup couscous, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, snipped

1. Grill or broil the sausage until brown on both sides (about 7 to 10 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, make the salad dressing: Peel and chop the garlic. Place it in a mortar with a dash of salt. Pound until you have a paste (or mash with a fork). Mix in the mustard and the vinegar. Gradually add the oil until you have an emulsion. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and vinegar, if necessary.

3. Trim the stalks from watercress. Place about a cup of the leaves in a salad bowl (refrigerate the remainder of the bunch in a wet paper towel placed in a plastic bag). Slice the endive vertically into thin slivers. Cut the slivers in half, and add them to the watercress leaves. Toss with the salad dressing, and set aside.

4. Cook the couscous (this should take a matter of minutes). Fluff it with a fork, and sprinkle with mint. Place it with the sausage on a warmed plate. Serve the salad on the side.

*Merguez is available in specialty stores or at dartagnan.com.

Glazed Pork Chop with Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary
The chop is seared and finished in the oven with slivers of roasted fennel.

Prep time: 21 minutes
Cooking time: 36 minutes

  • 1 small bulb fennel
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½-inch-thick pork chop
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the fennel in half, removing the stalks and the tough end and paring away any browned bits. Slice the fennel, and place it in a roasting pan large enough to hold the slices in one layer. Add the garlic, shallot, rosemary and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toss so all are coated, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, turning from time to time.

2. Meanwhile, pat the pork chop dry with paper towels, and season it with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper. In a small frying pan, heat the remaining oil over moderately high heat until hot, but not smoking. Brown the chop on both sides, and place it on a warm plate at the back of the stove.

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