The photography show that inspired these recipes is over now, but the San Francisco Jewish Community Center's "Harissa, Honey & Hyssop: Photos of North African Food" featured the colorful and evocative the work of Nelli Sheffer, an Israeli who specializes in food photography.
The show appealed to me not just for the vivid portrayal of the food but for the life and feeling that seemed to emanate from the people in the photos with the grilled corn, roast lamb and other foods featured in Sheffer’s photographs. (To see info on this exhibit, please go the JCC's Katz Gallery site. To read a write up about the exhibit with some photos, please see this jweekly article. For Sheffer's site, go here.)
I’ve recreated some of the North African flavors of the exhibition in several cooked vegetable salads, a feature of many of the cuisines of the region.
Briefly cooking the kale in the Kale Salad and Garlic Salad with Lemon helps tame its assertiveness. The cauliflower salad uses the Tunisian condiment harissa in the dressing. Harissa, a chili-garlic paste, is available in many supermarkets and in specialty stores. If you would like to make your own, here’s my recipe. The white bean dish features radishes and carrots, frequent ingredients in Moroccan salads.
Kale Salad with Garlic
Serve s 4-6
1 large or 2 small bunches of Tuscan kale (also known as dino or black kale)
1-2 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp., packed, minced lemon zest
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika
1 tomato, chopped into 1/4” pieces
Remove tough bottom stems from kale. You should have about 12 oz. of leaves. Immerse in boiling water. Return to boil. Cover and cook kale for 2 minutes. Kale should be pliable and somewhat tender. Immediately remove from pot, rinse with cold water and drain well. Pat leaves dry with paper towels.
|Blotting, rolling and slicing kale|
Combine garlic, juice, zest, oil, cumin, sugar, salt, pepper and paprika. Mix well and toss with kale strips. Garnish with chopped tomato. Serve at room temperature.
Cauliflower Salad with Harissa
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. harissa (Tunisian chili-garlic paste)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt plus additional if needed
1 medium cauliflower
1/2 cup 1/4" chunks of red onion
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint
3 tsps., packed, minced lemon zest
Mix juice, harissa, oil and 1/4 tsp. salt. Set aside. Core cauliflower and cut into 1 and 1/2” florets. Steam over boiling water for 4-6 minutes until tender but not cooked through. Immediately toss with harissa mixture and red onion. Mix in mint and lemon zest. Taste and add additional salt if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.
White Bean Salad with Radishes and Carrots
1 and 3/4 cups cooked white kidney beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz. can)
1 cup 1/4" cubes of red bell pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (white and light green part only)
1/4 cup 1/8” pieces of red radish
1 cup 1/4" chunks of carrot
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt plus additional if needed
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. finely chopped parsley
Combine beans, red bell, green onions, radish pieces and carrot chunks. Mix lemon juice, 1/8 tsp. of salt, paprika, cumin, garlic and olive oil. Combine with beans and vegetables. Stir in parsley. Taste, adding more salt if needed. Serve at room temperature.
A version of this post appeared in the j. weekly.