A menu inspired by guest chef Tara’s time in Jordan …
Flat bread with za’atar, hummus, olives, fatteh, zhug
Baba ganoush, ful medames, sabanek
Vegetarian tom yum base:
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c tamarind paste
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c chili paste (e.g., sambal oelek)
1/4 c water
2 qt chicken or mushroom stock
12-15 fresh kaffir lime leaves, bruised
15-20 slices of fresh lemongrass
15-20 thin slices of fresh galangal (or ginger)
1 package white mushrooms, halved
6 small tomatoes, quartered
1/4 c tom yum soup base
1 T chili paste (e.g., sambal oelek)
1 T chili flakes (e.g., chile de arbol)
1/4 c vegetarian fish sauce (e.g., nuoc mam chay)
8 oz chicken breast (thinly sliced) or tofu (cubed)
1/2 c fresh lime juice
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
Heat stock over medium-low heat. Add aromatics (kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal) and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Add vegetables, soup base, chili paste, chili flakes, and fish sauce, and stir to combine. Add chicken or tofu and simmer until cooked through.
Remove soup from heat and stir in lime juice and cilantro. Serve with rice, vermicelli (maifun), or bean threads (saifun).
A tour of restaurants during our winter break stay in Los Angeles:
2 T olive oil
1/2 fennel bulb, finely diced
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 t fennel seed
1/2 t paprika or Aleppo pepper
1 c semi-pearled farro, rinsed and (optional) soaked
15-oz can diced tomatoes
2 T Italian parsley, chopped
2 T fennel fronds, chopped
Saute fennel, onion, garlic, fennel seed, and paprika until vegetables are translucent, 8-10 minutes.
Add farro and cook, stirring often, for 1-2 minutes, and then add 2-1/2 c hot water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until farro is al dente, 35-40 minutes.
Stir in diced tomatoes and their juices, and increase heat to high. Cook until the liquid is absorbed, 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Adapted from Bon Appetit. I like to serve the farrotto with spicy Italian sausage and garlicky greens.