Sumac

The spice featured above is sumac. Sumac comes from the berries of a wild bush and is widely used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. The spice gives a tart and mild lemon taste to food. Many years ago, my youngest daughter travelled to Turkey and when she came back home she gave me several spices, one of which it was sumac. I’ve been cooking with sumac ever since.

Sumac can be sprinkled on a wide variety of foods such as vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, salads and various rice or grain dishes. It can also be incorporated in dips and vinaigrettes. It’s delicious in hummus. You can find sumac in Middle Eastern food shops or markets and it’s starting to appear more frequently on the shelves of supermarkets. For additional information on sumac, you can read here.

Here are two summer recipes with sumac:

Baby spinach, cashew and sumac salad

DSC_0124

Level: very easy

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

Salad

  • 100 grams of raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil (for roasting cashews)
  • 1 tablespoon of sumac
  • 3 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 3 handfuls of romaine lettuce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed
  • 1-2 green onions, diced fine
  • 5 medjool dates, pitted and chopped in small, bit-size chunks
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Vinaigrette

Whisk together in small bowl until smooth:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (squeezed from a lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use a light kind such as Becel Omega 3,6)
  • Sea salt and ground pepper

Procedure

Heat a frying pan with the oil and when hot, reduce to medium-high and roast the cashews for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly or until dark spots appear. Pour the hot cashews in a small bowl and immeditately add the sumac. Stir well until the cashews are evenly coated with the spice. Let this cool.

Rinse, drain, spin and pat dry the spinach and romaine leaves. Put these in a big bowl and add the dill, onions, dates and cayenne pepper. Add the cooled cashews with all of remaining sumac that may be in the bottom of the bowl. Toss with clean hands.

Store in fridge and add the vinaigrette just before serving the salad – you might use all or parts of the vinaigrette. Toss well and adjust salt and pepper.

What I like to do, especially if I think that I will have some salad left over, I put the vinaigrette in a small serving bowl and people add it to their own salad portion. That way, any remaining salad can be stored in the fridge and remain crisp for future use.

Roasted potatoes with sumac

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Level: extremely easy

Oven: 200°C / 400 °F

Ingredients

Roasting potatoes of your choice, sumac and olive oil.

Procedure

Clean and brush your potatoes with skins on. Heat a deep oven-proof frying pan with some oil in it. When your pan is hot, reduce to medium-high and add your potatoes stirring them frequenty. Sprinkle some sumac and keep turning and tossing them until they are evenly coated with the spice and start to turn brown on the outside. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour a little water in the bottom of your pan and put the lid on. Put the potatoes into the heated oven and let them roast for 30 to 45 minutes – depending on the size and type of potatoes. They are done when a fork can easily pierce through a potato.

Bon appétit!

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Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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