The Spice of Life

by | Mar 2022


Photo: Kowalski’s

I’m returning to work this month after a weeklong staycation, and I’ve spent a ton of time inside recently. From deep cleaning my washing machine and organizing closets/drawers to snuggling by the fire, I certainly made the most of my time off.

I also engaged in a fair amount of culinary therapy—which differs from my day-to-day job in that I’m cooking solely for myself. It’s such a rarity that I’m not “working” when I’m in the kitchen, that at first it felt almost unnatural. But after paging through some forgotten cooking magazines (which I then recycled, of course!) and flipping through old vacation pictures, I started plugging into my own appetite and cravings. I rediscovered flavors and foods I haven’t enjoyed in years, as well as new tastes I might not have tried while “on the clock.”

One day, while cleaning out my spice cabinet, I came across more than a few bottles of lesser-used but once-treasured seasonings. I’ve always loved spicy food, (by which I mean food with lots of spice, not peppery-hot dishes). Turmeric, cloves, cumin, coriander, cardamom, sumac and fennel were each purchased for a reason before being buried far back on my shelves. So, I set about to use them up. What came about was some of the most satisfying and healing food I’ve made and enjoyed in quite a long time—Lebanese-style chicken wings, a Persian rice dish called tahdig, a Yemeni hot sauce called skhug and something altogether mixed up that I didn’t know what to call other than Mediterranean nachos.

My kitchen smelled intoxicating.

Mediterranean Nachos
Serves 4
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • kosher salt and freshly ground Kowalski’s Black Peppercorns, to taste
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Ground Ginger
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Turmeric
  • 1 pinch Ground Cloves
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 8 oz. Kowalski’s Original Hummus
  • garnishes, to taste: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, golden raisins, lemon zest, toasted pine nuts, finely chopped fresh cilantro and Za’atar
  • Pita Crackers or Naan, for serving

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté onion until tender (about 5 min.). Add garlic; cook and stir until softened and fragrant (1-2 min.). Add lamb; cook and crumble until meat is no longer pink (10-12 min.). Drain fat from meat; season with salt and pepper. Add spices (through cloves); cook and stir for 1 min. Deglaze pan with wine; cook until wine is evaporated (about 2 min.), then remove from heat. Scoop hummus into a shallow dish; top with meat mixture, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with other garnishes as desired. Serve with pita crackers or naan.


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