Have you ever heard of sumac? Yeah, me either until Will decided on this Lebanese bread recipe. So I searched at EarthFare. And Publix. And Winn-Dixie. And World Market. And then threw out a Facebook post for help before finally having someone use Yelp and locating a Middle Eastern grocery store in Tallahassee. Who knew? Certainly not us, but what an exciting discovery! Not only did the guy have sumac (and lots of it), he also had a variety of other fascinating foods and spices from the Middle East/India/Mediterranean. Basically, he’s awesome and for those of you in Tallahassee, the store is “International House of Foods” and is way up Monroe St., across from El Jalisco’s.

Sumac has been a surprising discovery. Definitely not what we expected from looking at it because of its rich burgundy color. It actually has an extremely strong lemon flavor, which we knew from Googling it, but still weren’t expecting when eating it. So I will include the original portion size of sumac for this recipe, however for your first time eating it, I may caution eating a little less. It’s a tad overwhelming in that “oh-my-gosh-I-like-this-but-it’s-too-much” way. Because we all have that sensation, right?

Anyways, I know I’m a few days behind in typing up this post but it’s totally worth it. The quinoa pilaf was really filling and the bread was quite tasty.

One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf (adapted from Food 52; serves 6)
2 cups salted water
1 cup quinoa
1 bunch lacinato kale, washed, and chopped into 1″ lengths
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 scallions, minced
1 tbsp toasted walnut oil (or olive oil)
3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (we used feta cheese)
Salt & pepper, to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot. Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until it is just enough to maintain a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then top with the kale and re-cover. Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 5 more minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, take a large serving bowl and combine half of the lemon juice (reserving the other half), all of the lemon zest, scallions, oil, pine nuts and goat cheese. Check the quinoa and kale when the cooking time has completed-water should have been absorbed and the quinoa will be tender but firm, and the kale bright green. (If the quinoa still has a hard white center, you can steam it a bit longer). When the quinoa and kale are done, fluff the pilaf, and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients.  Toss to combine, season with S&P and any remaining lemon juice, if necessary.

Recipe: Food52: One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

Cooking Notes Manakish Zaatar: It took upwards of 15 minutes for the bread to brown on the edges. We also recommend making slightly less topping so that way you can spread it out thinner on the bread itself without it being overwhelming.

Manikash Zaatar
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 tsp sugar
1 (1/4 oz package) active dry yeast (or about 2 1/4 tsp)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
Zaatar Topping
1/4 cup ground sumac
3 tbsp dried thyme
3 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine the water, sugar, and yeast and let stand for about 10 minutes until foamy. Meanwhile, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and work it in with your fingers. Make a well in the center, add the yeast and water mixture and stir to form a soft dough.Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form it into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and leave the dough to rise in a warm, draught-free place for about 1 hour until it doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven as it heats. Knead the dough briefly and divide it into 8 balls. Place the balls on a lightly oiled baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap, and let stand for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine zaatar topping in a small bowl.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten each ball of dough and roll it into a circle 1/8-inch thick and about 7-8 inches in diameter (pretty thin). Press each circle with your fingertips to make little indentations for the topping to rest in. Spread 1 heaping tbsp of zaatar topping over each round, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Bake until lightly browned and crisp, about 8 minutes (ours took close to 15). Depending on the size of your oven and baking stone or baking sheet (we recommend a stone!), you may need to do several batches. Serve warm right away or else cool on racks.

Recipe: The Kitchn: Manakish Zaatar

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