Tamatem Ma’Amrine

Tamatem Ma’Amrine is a Moroccan dish of roasted tomatoes stuffed with albacore, capers, olives and preserved lemon..


Tamatem Ma’Amrine (click to enlarge)

Adapted from a recipe by Claudia Roden

Carve a lid out of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides as you would a jack-o’-lantern.  Don’t let the walls get too thin, or the tomatoes will split while roasting. Turn the tomatoes upside down and let the water drain.

Meanwhile, flake apart US Pacific troll or line-caught albacore and toss gently in extra virgin olive oil with bits of roasted red pepper, coarsely chopped capers and black olives, thinly slivered preserved lemon and chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Season tuna mixture with cracked coriander, fennel and white sesame seeds and stuff into the tomatoes.

Drizzle with a little more olive oil and season with sea salt and cracked pepper.  Roast in a 375 degree oven until slightly blackened, perhaps 30 minutes.

Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold; a crisp salad goes well in either case.

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays

© Monterey Bay Aquarium

© Monterey Bay Aquarium

Seafood Watch: Tuna, Albacore

Time to end the war against saturated fat?

By Melissa Healy

The British Medical Journal has issued a clarion call to all who want to ward off heart disease: Forget the statins and bring back the bacon (or at least the full-fat yogurt). Saturated fat is not the widow-maker it’s been made out to be, writes British cardiologist Aseem Malhotra in a stinging “Observations” column in the BMJ: The more likely culprits are empty carbs and added sugar.

Virtually all the truths about preventing heart attacks that physicians and patients have held dear for more than a generation are wrong and need to be abandoned, Malhotra writes. He musters a passel of recent research that suggests that the “obsession” with lowering a patients’ total cholesterol with statins, and a public health message that has made all sources of saturated fat verboten to the health-conscious, have failed to reduce heart disease.

Indeed, he writes, they have set off market forces that have put people at greater risk. After the Framingham Heart Study showed a correlation between total cholesterol and risk for coronary artery disease in the early 1970s, patients at risk for heart disease were urged to swear off red meat, school lunchrooms shifted to fat-free and low-fat milk, and a food industry eager to please consumers cutting their fat intake rushed to boost the flavor of their new fat-free offerings with added sugar (and, of course, with trans-fats).

The result is a rate of obesity that has “rocketed” upward, writes Malhotra. And, despite a generation of patients taking statins (and enduring their common side effects), the trends in cardiovascular disease have not demonstrably budged.

Real food includes saturated fat, Lustig said, and real food lives up to the principle that food should confer wellness, not illness. “Instead of lowering serum cholesterol with statins, which is dubious at best, how about serving up some real food?”

Malhotra cites a 2009 UCLA study showing that three-quarters of patients admitted to the hospital with acute myocardial infarction do not have high total cholesterol; what they do have, at a rate of 66%, is metabolic syndrome — a cluster of worrying signs including hypertension, high fasting blood sugar, abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and low HDL (“good” cholesterol).

Meanwhile, research has shown that when people with high LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) purge their diet of saturated fats, they lower one kind of LDL (the large, buoyant particles called “Type A” LDL), but not the small, dense particles (“Type B” LDL) that are linked to high carbohydrate intake and are implicated in heart disease.

Recent research has also shown that Mediterranean diets — admittedly skimpy on red meat but hardly light on saturated fats — have outpaced both statins and low-fat diets as a means of preventing repeat heart attacks. Other research suggests that the saturated fat in dairy foods may protect against hypertension, inflammation and a host of other dysfunctions increasingly linked to heart attacks.

“It is time to bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease and wind back the harms of dietary advice that has contributed to obesity,” writes Malhotra.

Whether physicians at the front lines of health have gotten the message, a change in thinking is evident, at least, among some of medicine’s leaders. But it’s not easy to tune out years of what Malhotra calls “the mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

“When saturated fat got mixed up with the high sugar added to processed food in the second half of the 20th century, it got a bad name,” noted UC San Francisco pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig. On the question of which is worse — saturated fat or added sugar, Lustig added, “The American Heart Assn. has weighed in — the sugar many times over.”

(Vegan) Peanut-Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower, Thai Yellow Curry

Fresh broccoli and cauliflower cut into small florets, then tossed in a mixture of coconut oil, chopped peanuts, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and a pinch of blonde palm sugar.  Oven roasted at high heat until fork tender and partially caramelized, then served over a curry of coconut milk, galangal, red chilies, star anise and coriander..

Vegan Black Lentils and Chana Dal, Chili-Fried Green Beans

Onions, fresh garlic and ginger are quickly fried in olive oil along with fennel and mustard seeds, coriander, turmeric root powder, fresh curry leaves and Tellicherry black pepper. 

Rinsed urad dal (split black lentils) and chana dal (split black chickpeas) are added to the pan and simmered for about an hour and a half in homemade vegetable stock.  Chopped fresh tomatoes are added during the last 20 minutes, with chopped fresh cilantro added just before service.

The dish is topped with oil-fried fresh green beans and red chilies, with some of the hot oil drizzled over the top.

Low in cholesterol and high in protein, this easy, inexpensive dish is full of flavor and very satisfying..

For the Vegetable Stock (adapted from a recipe Gourmet magazine)

1/2 lb portabella mushrooms, caps and stems cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb shallots, left unpeeled, quartered
1 lb carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs (including stems)
5 fresh thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 fresh bay laurel leaves
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
2 qt filtered water

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss together mushrooms, shallots, carrots, bell peppers, parsley and thyme sprigs, garlic, and oil in a large flameproof roasting pan. Roast in middle of oven, turning occasionally, until vegetables are golden, 30 to 40 minutes.

Transfer vegetables with slotted spoon to a tall narrow 6-quart stockpot. Set roasting pan across 2 burners, then add wine and deglaze pan by boiling over moderate heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 2 minutes. Transfer to stockpot and add bay leaves, tomatoes, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes. Pour through a large fine sieve into a large bowl, pressing on and discarding solids, then season with salt and pepper. Skim off fat.  Use within 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.

Chicken Canzanese, Toasted Fennel/Shallot Brown Rice

Originally a peasant dish (perhaps of stewing hen or rooster) from the Abruzzo region in Italy, Americans were likely  first introduced to this classic in a 1969 article from the New York Times.

My riff on America’s Test Kitchen’s modern adaptation (see video below) uses locally pastured chicken thighs, prosciutto, garlic, fresh herbs, chicken stock and white wine, all served over fennel-scented brown rice with toasted shallots and flat-leaf parsley..

Pollo Canzanese (serves 2-4)

4 large skin-on, bone-in, pastured chicken breasts
2 ounces prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2-3 cloves garlic, slivered (not minced)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons sprouted wheat or spelt flour
1-1/4 cups dry white wine
3/4 cup homemade chicken stock
2 bay leaves (fresh preferred)
2 sprigs rosemary, stripped, leaves chopped (reserve the stems)
8 leaves fresh sage
3 whole cloves
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cultured butter, cold
freshly-cracked black pepper

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Refrigerate, uncovered 4 hours or overnight to help ensure a crispy skin when cooked.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add prosciutto and sauté until lightly brown, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the prosciutto and garlic to a side dish.

Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Once the oil is shimmering, season the chicken with pepper and place in the hot oil skin-side down.  Allow the chicken to cook without moving until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Turn the chicken over cook another 5 minutes, again without moving.  Transfer the chicken to a side dish.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of olive oil/fat, reserving the remainder for the rice.

Sprinkle the flour into the pan and whisk continuously to form a light roux, about 1 minute.

De-glaze the pan with the wine, taking care to scrape up all the brown bits (the fond) from the bottom.

Add the cooked prosciutto and garlic back into the pan along with the bay leaves, sage, cloves, rosemary stems (without leaves) and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.

Add the chicken to the pan, making sure that the volume of liquid is sufficient to rise to a point just below the crisp chicken skin.  Pour a little liquid off if there’s too much, or add a little stock if there isn’t enough.

Place the uncovered pan into a 325 degree oven and cook until the chicken is fork tender, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the rice..

1 cup germinated brown rice, rinsed
2-1/4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon reserved oil/fat
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, cracked
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley

Toast the fennel in a heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the reserved oil/fat and shallots and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Add the rice and stir to coat.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until done, about 45 minutes.

To Finish and Serve

Remove the pan with the chicken from the oven.  Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with foil.

Working quickly, put the chicken pan on the burner over medium-high heat. Pick out and discard the cloves, sage, bay and rosemary stems.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, chopped rosemary leaves, parsley and butter and whisk until smooth.

Line a platter with the rice and ladle the sauce over the rice.  Place the cooked chicken on top of the rice, drizzle with a little of the sauce and serve piping hot.

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Here’s that video..