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Grain

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

After recently moving to a new neighborhood, my two housemates and I threw a little housewarming BBQ and celebration. Yay!

Tasked with the challenge of making something for a crowd that would be vegetarian, nutritious AND able to rival burgers circulating aromatics from the grill, I settled upon this rendition of caprese.

I taste-tested in advance and gave it two thumbs up. But it was still much to my surprise that the healthy caprese rice ran out before the burgers. Who would’ve guessed?

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

As with a traditional caprese salad, the flavors here are simple but fresh. Good extra virgin olive oil, zesty basil and sweet caramelization from the oven that’s bestowed upon a variety of veggies all make this dish shine. It’s delicate, yet addicting. And makes you feel good even after going in for seconds.

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

I opted to keep this dish vegan, but feel free to add mozzarella or goat cheese. You could also play with the grain combination. Here, I chose to add in some barley with the rice, which lent?a nice and subtle crunchy element.

I also love the texture and flavor contrast created when using both roasted and raw tomatoes. If able, go with two different varieties for each, like sungolds and classic grape tomatoes, for a nice color scheme and added complexity of flavor.

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

I’m looking forward to more veggie and herb-centric meals in the months to come. Also a shout-out to Mastro Co. for the awesome ceramic bowl that held this veggie-filled goodness!
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Tahini Goddess Dressing

Tahini Goddess Dressing

It’s not all that infrequent that I’m caught engaging in a long, passionate conversation about tahini.  Me and tahini are good friends. And me and tahini make new friends together.

Somehow in recent months, it’s been showing up a lot. At random parties. At bars. At food events. There I am, talking about tahini. You could say it’s kind of like the weather, although a much more dynamic discourse.

Soom tahini

As such, bonding sessions over its magnificence aren’t uncommon in my life, nor are shared meals with tahini at the center. I go through a lot of jars, and there’s an instant connection with others I meet who do too.

So, of course, I was thrilled to come across Soom Foods Tehina, a new company started by three sisters in my very own city. Girlpower + tahini (aka, tehina) + Philadelphia…boom.

Without much effort, these ladies convinced Zahav — undeniably not just one of the best Israeli spots but also one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia — to switch completely over to their tahini. When I got word of that, the rest was history. I needed to try Soom’s Tehina. And before Zahav took it all. (They go through 100 lbs each week! The owner/chef also has a hummus restaurant in the works…)

As written on the jar, “Soom Foods was founded by three sisters, Shelby, Jackie and Amy Z (SheJAmz for short). Shelby had a business degree. Jackie married a Tehina expert. And Amy needed a job.” What’s come of it? A paste made from white Humera sesame seeds that’s starting to gain some buzz. It’s the high quality Humera seeds that distinguish Soom Foods. They provide a rich, smooth, oiliness that’s just not quite there in standard tahini you’d get. Like a good peanutty version, this is the kind of butter you could eat by the spoon.

Clearly though, it’s best in recipes like this. Tahini dressings are my jam – for roasted broccoli (Dishing Up The Dirt knows what I’m talking about!), for grain + veggie bowls (see suggestion to follow), for salads, veggie sticks, and more. It’s a great go-to to have stored in the fridge for when you want to whip up a quick, simple dinner and have an addicting sauce to pour over it. Steam up some veggies and/or cook up some grains/lentils/beans, add this, and you’ve got a memorable meal after very little effort.

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