“The past is a foreign country,” author L.P. Hartley famously wrote in his book The Go-Between. Perhaps that’s why we hold on to the postcards…
We may once again be observing spring holidays without family and friends but we can still celebrate the season. In this spring-themed culinary adventure, TNT contributors Saori Wall and Amanda Weir experiment with the vibrant Mediterranean-inspired flavors of Israeli British chef Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi, whose bestselling cookbooks include Ottolenghi, Plenty, Jerusalem and SIMPLE.
This trio of recipes feature simple, fresh flavors that are perfect for a spring backyard picnic or holiday meal. Most of the recipes call for easy-to-find ingredients. Sour, tangy sumac, made from ground, dried sumac berries, may be a little harder to find—check with the Canyon Gourmet or the General Store. A vegan alternative to burrata—a soft cheese of fresh mozzarella filled with curds and cream—a vegan option might be to use hummus in its place.
Burrata With Grilled Grapes and Basil
Seedless red grapes
2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 ½ teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
flaked sea salt to taste
3 large balls of burrata
basil sprigs to serve
Put the grapes in a medium bowl with vinegar, oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon of flaked salt and plenty of pepper. Mix well and marinate for at least one hour. Thread 5 or 6 grapes on to each skewer. Don’t throw away the marinade. Place a grill pan over high heat. Once it is hot add the skewers in batches and grill for 2 to 3 minutes, turning after 1 1/2 minutes.
When ready to serve, tear the burrata in half and place half on each plate. Arrange the skewers to lean against the burrata, two per portion. Pour over the remaining marinade, sprinkle with the remaining fennel seeds, garnish with basil and serve.
Tomatoes With Sumac Onions and Pine Nuts
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbsp sumac
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and black pepper
an assortment of the freshest tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
a handful of basil leaves
a handful of toasted pine nuts
Put the shallot in a small bowl with the sumac, the vinegar, and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Mix together with your hands so the sumac gets well massaged into the shallots. Leave for 30 minutes to soften.
Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and then into wedges. Place in a large bowl. Pour in the oil, add the basil, a third of a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Toss gently with your hands to combine. Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter and spread the shallots over the top. Lift some of the tomatoes and basil so they are visible above the shallots, sprinkle some basil and the pine nuts over the dish.
Sweet Potato Mash with Lime Salsa
2 lbs sweet potatoes, skin left on and cut in half lengthwise
5 tablespoons olive oil
Large handful of basil leaves finely chopped
Large handful of cilantro finely chopped
1/2 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 limes, zested and juiced
salt to taste
Heat oven to 350 F. Season the sweet potatoes with two tablespoons of oil and a quarter teaspoon of salt, lay flesh-side down on an oven pan and roast for 30 minutes or until fully cooked.
Put lime salsa ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
Remove skins from sweet potato and mash until smooth. Spoon salsa evenly over the mash and serve while it’s hot.