For someone who works with language and texts, I do have moments when it all goes oddly awry. Coming up with a title for this blog post was definitely one of those moments… Perhaps, we’ll have to view it as a case of ‘the better the recipe, the worse the title’. You, my dear readers, are in for something good.
I had the pleasure to help edit a cookery book last summer. It was a translation from English into Finnish, about Turkish cuisine. This summer, I’ve got another similar project. Sticking with an Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern feel, it’s ‘Persiana’ by Sabrina Ghayour. I’m just shamelessly going to promote the book here. For the simple reason that it is very good. And my first venture into cooking some recipes in it proves it.
I got my work copy last week and leafed through it, my mouth watering. Especially the mezze section with stuff like pistachio and feta dip got me immediately excited.
The English language theatre group I’ve been involved with for quite a few years held its annual summer picnic yesterday. Many of us are Game of Thrones fans, me included. So, knowing how mercurial Finnish summer weather can be in June, we thought we’d call the event ‘Summer is Coming’ and have people dress up as characters from the TV show.
The picnic was the perfect excuse to not only dress up but also try some recipes from ‘Persiana’.
Turns out I may have found my new favourite dip. (And Finnish summer was kind to us for once and gave us the only sunny day in all of June.)
Anyway. To the actual food…
The recipes in the book are clearly for a larger group of people, so I halved or went a bit lower with the amounts of ingredients. The measurings I’ve used should be ok for a party of 5-10 people, depending on how hungry they are…
Pistachio & Feta Dip
- 50 g peeled, unsalted pistachios
- 3 dl olive oil
- 150 g soft feta cheese, crumbled
- small handful of dill, chopped
- a slightly bigger handful of coriander, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, pressed
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- 1 1/2 tbsp greek yoghurt
- some grated lemon rind
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- sea salt to taste
Blitz the pistachios and olive oil into an oily paste.
Crumble, chop and grate everything else, as instructed above.
And just mix in everything and blitz again until the mixture is smooth.
Add salt, depending on how salty the feta you’re using is. You might not even want to add any. But yeah. you basically end up with a lovely, creamy pistachio green dip.
The ingredients seem like an odd mix, at least to a Nordic palate (we tend to think of dill with new potatoes and pickled fish or granny’s vinegar cucumbers). But this totally works. People at the picnic, who professed to disliking dill and/or coriander were amazed to really enjoy this dip. Because it’s all blitzed together, the texture of the herbs won’t bother people. And somehow the flavours just mesh. Gorgeous.
In addition, I made hummus and then some Ezme, a Turkish tomato and bell pepper salad, that works nicely on bread or as part of a mezze selection.
- 1 small onion, very finely chopped
- 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 red chillies, finely chopped (less seeds in means less heat)
- handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
(the original recipe suggests you add sumac, but I didn’t have any, worked ok without it)
- 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp coarse salt/gourmet salt
+ black pepper to taste
The most important thing is to chop everything finely and evenly. Once you’re done chopping, mix everything together in a bowl.
The make the dressing and mix.
Pour it over the salad and cover with cling film or lid and place in the fridge to macerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.
It’s sweet and tangy and refreshing.
Serve both of these dishes with some bread of your choice… and lots and lots of Dornish wine, of course.