Its beginning to gear up to the busy time of the year – when we all try and get prepared for the Christmas season, and, at the same time get out and enjoy the sunshine. In my world that means lots of catering for summer, end of year break-ups, and festive parties. It is an exciting time, full of the promise of good times with friends and family, and also, memories of the best of previous summers and Christmas seasons. It is fun and busy, and with the outdoor sunshine and warmth calling (you can’t take either of those things for granted here in the south) time in the kitchen can feel limited.
Enter kitchen store cupboard essentials, and today I am talking about crunchy blends of spicy toasted seeds and nuts. A jar in the pantry ready to snack on, put over salads, sprinkle on top soup, scatter over roast or mashed vegetables, tumble through your grain salad, buddha bowl, or over your breakfast shakshuka – the texture, the taste and the well seasoned spicy flavour makes food better. If you are anything like me, you will feel better too, for eating something tasty, good for you and quick to assemble. This – as always – is an idea more than a recipe it is a reminder to toast a batch of what you have to hand so you can have a jar ready to add some excitement and extra nutritional value to your next meal. Of course while you are at it, you could also make some extra and fill a jar (you know those ones cluttering up the spare cupboard – or is that just me), to give it to someone special, or take it to the next barbecue. It is another of those condiments that help when you have a random group of ingredients in the refrigerator and pantry, that just need a little flavour and texture boost to turn into todays killer salad. You don’t have to be to clever when you have a tasty ingredients like these to jazz up your meal.
The something different I tried with this batch of seeds and nuts was to add puffed quinoa, these added some extra crunchy textural goodness as well as being rich in iron,fibre and protein. I bought the puffed quinoa for this because of its cute size but you can also get puffed millet,rice and probably other grains which would all add to the mix. Or potentially you could also toast them on their own with spices for a singular crunchy goodness – also a good idea for those with nut and seed allergies So many ideas so little time!
The other magic ingredient today was Japanese Togarashi, also known as Shichimi, a centuries old blend that includes chilli, black sesame seeds, dried orange peel, ginger sichuan pepper and dried seaweed. Definitely spicy goodness that is different from my usual Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean flavours. I really want to try making my own version of this – as delicious as this is – I can imagine a slightly chunky fresh version would be amazing! You can buy the one I used in most well stocked supermarkets or Asian food stores, and it is very good.
PUFFED AND TOASTED SEED AND NUT MIX
Pre heat oven to approximately 140’c
- 1 Tablespoon Togarashi chilli spice mix (or chilli powder)
- 1 teaspoon tummeric
- 2 Tablespoons Soy sauce ( I try and use gluten free or tamari so most people can enjoy the mix)
- 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest (or other citrus) to be added at the end of cooking.
- 1/2 cup of each or any of the following – chopped nuts (I used almonds),quinoa puffs, buckwheat groats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, black or and white sesame seeds
- Salt to taste depending on the saltiness of the soy sauce you use
Tip onto two baking sheets and bake in 5-7 minute intervals, stirring each time the timer goes off, until it is lightly browned and crunchy – this will take approximately 15-20 minutes at this low temperature.
Now add the citrus zest as soon as you take the trays out of the oven for the final time, and stir it through to release the oils and flavour into the mix
To use your seeds your imagination and whatever is in your refrigerator and pantry need be as far as you go, but for extra inspiration the salad above and below was pretty delicious.
A JAPANESE INSPIRED SALAD WITH LOTS OF SEEDS
(Mushroom mix will make enough for a salad for four people, double the marinade if making for more people)
- 100 grams of exotic mushroom medley
- 2 tablespoons coconut or raw sugar
- 2 tablespoons Tamari Soy sauce
- 100 mls rice wine vinegar
- Mixed grains of choice or whats in the refrigerator
- Leafy greens
- Avocado and other salad greens
- Optional Delicious and Easy Raw Fish Kokoda
- Your best seed mix
- optional sesame oil to finish your salad
Marinate the mushrooms in the sugar, soy and vinegar and set aside while you compose the salad. The marinade will also be the dressing for your salad.
Compose the rest of your ingredients in individual bowls or one large sharing plater, finishing with the marinade from the mushrooms, your nut and seed mix a few drops of sesame oil and Togarashi.
Eat and enjoy in the summer sun.