On my first night in California with a group visiting California Olive Ranch, we ate dinner at Matchbook Wines. The caterer, Chef Jeff Anderson, had hauled along his wood-burning oven, which he used throughout the evening, but most memorably for the appetizer: blistered and bubbly flatbreads, which he served with olive oil and a nut-free dukkah. Fresh bread, good olive oil, a smoky, seedy condiment—this appetizer reminded me how a simple flourish can make such an impression—it can be, in fact, all everyone needs to kick off an evening; it can be everything everyone dreams about for days.
This past week, I made a large-ish batch of dukkah to bring to CT for Christmas. I used the aforementioned no-nut dukkah as a guide, which included sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Dukkah typically contains nuts and can be made in countless ways. This one comes together as follows: toast cumin, coriander, and sesame seeds; crush them coarsely with a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder; season with salt, red pepper flakes and a pinch of sugar. Serve with good bread and olive oil or use it in various other ways: to crust fish or tofu, to season eggs or avocados (or both on toast!), to add texture (especially if you use nuts) to roasted vegetables or grain salads. (Many more ideas in this Tasting Table article.)
I had mentioned last week that the California Olive Ranch’s Limited Reserve olive oil is now available, and it is delicious: grassy and buttery with some late-hitting heat. If you order today, there’s a chance it will arrive before Christmas, but I have another idea, too, if taking the chance makes you nervous: pick up any bottle of California Olive Ranch olive oil at your local grocery store — they are all so tasty. I use their everyday olive oil for everything — salad dressings, sautéing, dipping. Bundle a bottle of olive oil with a small jar of dukkah and a loaf of homemade bread, and call your homemade Christmas preparations done!
One more thought: If you want to make a lot of dukkah, head to your favorite bulk-food market to purchase the spices. If you live in the area, Honest Weight Food Co-op is a great resource for bulk spices.
PS: The peasant bread was one of Food52’s top recipes of the 2017!
PPS: Read more about California Olive Ranch’s 2017 olive harvest here.
Kitchen is under renovation, hence camping stove. Updated kitchen snap below!
Use this recipe as a guide — there are countless ways to make dukkah, and this one, which is nutless, is untraditional. To add nuts, simply toast nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios) as you would the seeds and coarsely crush or chop them.
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- Pinch red pepper flakes
In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until they begin to lightly brown and begin to pop. Transfer them to a medium bowl. Add the coriander and cumin seeds to the skillet and toast in the same fashion—until they begin to brown and turn fragrant. Transfer the cumin and coriander seeds to a separate bowl. In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, coarsely grind the cumin and coriander seeds — you may have to do this in batches. Transfer the crushed seeds to the bowl with the sesame seeds. Add the salt, sugar, and pepper flakes. Toss to combine. Taste. Adjust taste as desired.