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Never too old to learn to love (Fenugreek)

Late last fall, I discovered fenugreek – in the form of deeply aromatic dried leaves from local Persian markets.  Not in the sense of “discovered” discovered, of course. Wikipedia says  fenugreek seeds found in Iraq have been carbon dated to 4000 BCE, which means that it’s at least as old as civilization.

I fell in love hard and fast with this deliciously smokey, sweet, complex herb. It’s a strong flavour (the cook must commit to it) but it pairs very easily with so many flavours (especially garlic), and shows itself versatile across cuisines.

I’ve used it in bread stuffing (where I first noticed how nicely it paired with sage) in ratatouille, mixed with sage and butter on potatoes, added to a spinach and cheese quiche, and crumbled – sparingly – into winter salads that include fresh apple and chopped nuts. It was nice, too, mixed with pomegranate and paprika on lamb.

It’s a strong taste and scent, so cook must commit to it, but it seems to pair very easily with so many other flavours, and shows itself versatile across many cuisines.

This ancient herb made an interesting addition to a vinaigrette made with two tablespoons of honey mustard, cider vinegar/peanut oil/dash of pistachio oil (3 to 1 oil to vinegar ratio), a tablespoon or so of rubbed dried fenugreek leaves, and a roasted garlic head**. You can either squeeze the garlic into a jar with other ingredients and give it all a good shake, or put the whole thing in the blender for a minute. If you did use a blender and you wanted, adding a dollop of cream/milk/yogurt would make it even smoother.

If the mood strikes me, I use the leftover vinaigrette to roast potatoes, in a grain or pasta salad, or on grilled meat or fish.

roasted garlic on wooden cutting board ready for recipe use

Squeeze roast garlic out of the bulb with a slat knife

**What do you mean you don’t have a head of roasted garlic sitting around? Why not? Don’t be ridiculous. You could have just popped a whole head wrapped in foil or parchment into the oven whenever it was on for another dish.  #TuesdayTip  Easiest thing ever. Do it, damnit. Also so so nice added to any winter soup, especially leek and potato.

PS: If there’s a way you like to use fenugreek, you’re going to tell me, right, dear reader? Please.

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