Guided by a carousel of flavors, Ana Sortun filled her first cookbook with fragrant recipes organized by groups of spices and herbs that are a gateway to her exploration of the Mediterranean and Middle East. Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean opens with a chapter on the three C’s (cumin, coriander, and cardamom), complementary spices that balance and brighten plenty of plant-based (as well as meat) dishes such as chickpea crepes, red lentil kofte, and braised dates. Her combinations are a whirl of flavors: sumac, citrus, and fennel seed; saffron, ginger, and vanilla; mint, oregano, and za’atar. Many of her vegetable dishes show up in creative versions of classics, such as sweet potato bisteeya, spinach falafel with tahini and pickled pears, and squash kibbeh with brown butter and spiced feta.
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