The New Mediterranean Table: Modern and Rustic Recipes Inspired by Traditions Spanning Three Continents, written by Sameh Wadi, contains 125 traditional and modern recipes featuring the rich cuisines of the Mediterranean. A few highlights include Lobster Orzo Salad, Mirqaz Sausage Stew with Baked Eggs, Salmon & Clam Tagine, Jeweled Rice, and Paella Croquettes with Saffron Aioli. I will also be sharing his recipe for Sweet Potatoes with Tamarind and Tahini following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Sameh Wadi was born in Kuwait and relocated to Jordan with his family during the Gulf War. They eventually settled in Minnesota in 1997. He is now the chef of Saffron Restaurant & Lounge and World Street Kitchen in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was also an Iron Chef contestant and a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation “Best Chef” and “Rising Star” awards.
The New Mediterranean Table
Sameh’s recipes are deeply rooted in his family with his love of cooking mostly influenced by his parents and you will see this passion shine across the pages of The New Mediterranean Table. When he was a child, Sameh’s parents actually put together a manuscript of Palestinian recipes with the intention of it becoming The Encyclopedia of Palestinian Cuisine. Unfortunately, his family’s relocation to Jordan during the Gulf War occurred before the book could be published. Through their moves, the manuscript remained intact and has become a foundation for many of Sameh’s dishes.
Chapters are divided based on course: Small Plates, Large Plates, Side Dishes, Dessert, Drink, and The Larder. While you will find a handful of traditional recipes in The New Mediterranean Table, most are recreations by Sameh featuring the amazing spices and flavors of the Middle East, North Africa, and Southern Europe.
The stunning photography is provided by Matt Lien. Many of the recipes include a beautiful full page photo of the finished product. Some also include step-by-step photos. Each dish includes a headnote with background information, helpful tips, personal stories, and serving size. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. The titles are written in English.
Sweet Potatoes with Tamarind and Tahini
I didn’t initially plan to feature this recipe for Sweet Potatoes with Tamarind and Tahini on the blog, so I made the side dish at night with no intention of putting a lot of effort into the photograph. We all enjoyed the roasted sweet potato slices drizzled with a tahini sauce and pomegranate molasses (I had it on hand so didn’t use tamarind) so much that I made it again for lunch the next day when the lighting was available for better photos.
These Sweet Potatoes with Tamarind and Tahini are incredibly easy to make, but the end result is packed with flavor and quite stunning. The tangy sweetness of the pomegranate molasses (or tamarind) pairs perfectly with the roasted, creamy tahini.
The recipe provided for the tahini sauce will make a lot more than you need for this particular dish. You can easily halve the ingredients and still have a bit extra or pair the sweet potatoes with another recipe from the book that also uses the sauce. I whisked together the tahini sauce while the sweet potatoes were in the oven, so the entire process took less than 30 minutes.
Tahini is a sesame seed paste created from ground toasted or raw sesame seeds. It is becoming more readily available in the international or health food section of most larger supermarkets or on Amazon: Baron’s Kosher 100% Pure Ground Sesame Tahini 16-ounce Jars (Pack of 2). If you are unable to find it, you can also make your own- check out this recipe for Homemade Tahini by Jessica in the Kitchen. Make sure you stir the tahini well before using, especially down to the bottom of the container.
Looking for more sweet potato recipes?
I also made Carrot Salad with Grapefruit and Charmoula, Hummus with Caramelized Paprika Butter and Za’atar, Roasted Chicken with Sumac and Onions, and Roasted Peaches with Goat Cheese and Pistachios.
The Carrot Salad with Grapefruit and Charmoula is a fairly easy salad to prepare, especially if you make the charmoula ahead of time. Carrots and radishes are thinly sliced (best with a mandoline slicer) and combined with grapefruit segments before being tossed in a citrus charmoula dressing.
Sameh added a Classic Hummus recipe, plus variations: Hummus Royale with Spiced Beef & Pine Nuts and Hummus with Caramelized Paprika Butter & Za’atar. This was actually my first time making hummus, but will definitely not be my last. The chickpeas need to soak overnight and boil for a couple of hours the next day, but the actual prep work is very simple. With the help of a food processor, the cooked chickpeas became a smooth puree with the addition of tahini, lemon, garlic, and olive oil.
The Roasted Chicken with Sumac and Onions is mostly hands off, but packed with flavor. After marinating 2 hours to overnight in a sumac olive oil spice blend, the chicken is roasted with red onion wedges and garlic cloves until tender. I picked this recipe because I have been trying to use up a bag of sumac, but now I am ready to buy even more to make this chicken again and again. I served the chicken over a bed of rice-vermicelli pilaf.
The peaches have been overflowing in the markets recently, so I chose the Roasted Peaches with Goat Cheese and Pistachios from the dessert chapter. Peaches are halved, sprinkled with sugar and seared on a skillet until a caramelized layer forms. They are then roasted in the oven in the sugar thyme syrup until tender. If that isn’t enough, they are also topped with a dollop of soft goat cheese, honey, and crushed pistachios. It was a refreshing fruit dessert without being overly sweet and perfect for the end of summer.
The New Mediterranean Table is a great pick for those wanting to try out new dishes with flavors from the Middle East, Southern Europe, and North Africa. Many of the recipes are on the more complex side and not the best choice for quick, weeknight meals. They are, however, geared for the home cook wanting to create restaurant quality dishes at home that are sure to impress. Many of the ingredients are now available in larger supermarkets, but a few may require a trip to the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Market or online shopping.
Sweet Potatoes with Tamarind and Tahini Recipe
Excerpt from The New Mediterranean Table
Sweet Potatoes with Tamarind and Tahini
- 2 large sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch (13 mm) rounds
- Canola oil
- Sea salt
- 1/4 cup (54 grams) Tahini Sauce (recipe below)
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) tamarind syrup or pomegranate molasses
- 2 tablespoons (8 grams) cilantro coarsely chopped
- Maldon salt
- Extra virgin olive oil for garnish
- 1 cup (230 grams) tahini
- 1 tablespoon (13 grams) homemade thick yogurt or Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves finely grated
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) water plus more as needed
- Sea salt
To make the Tahini Sauce:
- Combine all the tahini ingredients in a medium bowl, season with salt and whisk until incorporated. The mixture will seize up at first and separate. You may need to add 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) of water to get it to the perfect consistency, which is the consistency of thick cream.
To make the Sweet Potatoes with Tamarind and Tahini:
- Preheat the oven to 450˚F (232˚C). In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with a drizzle of canola oil and season with sea salt.
- Spread out the sweet potatoes in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and roast for 20-30 minutes, until brown and soft when pricked with a fork.
- Place the roasted sweet potatoes on a platter. Drizzle the tahini sauce in thin streams over the sweet potatoes and repeat with the tamarind syrup. Finish with the cilantro, a light sprinkling of Maldon salt and a drizzle of olive oil.