Monday, April 20, 2009

Flavors I can't live without

For breakfast today, I stuffed some warm pita halves with organic spring mix, hummus, a small sardine or canned red salmon, tomato, sliced yogurt cheese and ajvar, a roasted red pepper and eggplant spread from Macedonia, one of the flavors I can't live without.

Ajvar makes a great sandwich spread or you can just put a couple of tablespoons of the stuff on your plate to eat with a sandwich or entree. I buy the spicy version made by Vava, because it has no added sugar. I've found it at Zeytinia in Englewood, $4.99 for a 19-ounce jar.

Another great flavor is za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture you can sprinkle on sliced tomatoes, roasted chicken, fish and so forth. If you put a pinch in your mouth, it has a wonderful sourness. Some za'atar and extra virgin olive oil on a plate makes a great dip for fresh bread or you can sprinkle the mixture over pita and spreadable yogurt cheese. The mix includes thyme, wild sumac, marjoram, oregano, salt and sesame seeds. I add black sesame seeds to mine.

You can find two kinds of za'atar, green and brown, at Fattal's in Paterson's South Paterson section. The store also carries another great flavor, Aleppo pepper, a coarsely ground and mildly spicy red pepper that is great with hummus, eggs fried in olive oil and roasted chicken, among other dishes.

Along with my pita sandwiches, I had a small bowl of mahk kimchi from Arirang, a kimchi factory in Englewood. I like my kimchi "fresh," meaning it hasn't been fermented too long and the nappa cabbage retains a nice crunch. How much do I like kimchi? It's a morning staple.

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