Cooking

Russ Moore's Secret Weapon

A North African herb jam that goes on everything
Photos: Tasting Table
Russ Moore's Secret Weapon Herb Jam

Many years ago, while working for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, chef Russ Moore prepared a tribute dinner to legendary cookbook author Paula Wolfert and stumbled upon a gem of a recipe—a North African condiment she called "herb jam." He loved the complex flavors of herbs and green vegetables—cooked down and run through with cumin and chile—and returned to it when he was looking for a savory-sweet condiment at his Oakland restaurant, Camino (see the recipe).

The jam packs in green, earthy flavors, adding a layer of complexity that guests can't quite put their fingers on. But the real sell is the recipe's versatility. While Wolfert was rather specific about which herbs and greens to use, Moore takes it as an opportunity to clean the fridge, tossing in vegetable trimmings that would otherwise go to waste. It's canning meets composting.

Doubtful of a jam made from vegetable scraps? Alice Waters isn't; she ordered seconds when she dined at Camino with friends. Here's how to use the jam to impress yours.

Make Toast with the Most Moore breaks out the herb jam for his toast almost every morning and it's become his staff's go-to snack for a quick refueling break. Toast some dark bread packed with seeds and whole grains, then spread it with a soft cheese like ricotta and a thick layer of jam.

Have a Salad Day Make a simple bean salad with strained garbanzo, cranberry or cannellini beans from a can, then dress with oil, vinegar and a spoonful of herb jam. The jam's spices add earthy notes, lemon gives a bright zing, and the bitter greens add complexity to the legumes.

Stew in It To add deeper flavor to any kind of fish stew or bouillabaisse, put a scoop of herb jam in the bottom of each serving bowl before pouring in the soup. The jam will intensify as you reach the bottom of the bowl, building green flavor as you go.

Put a Yogurt on It Stir the jam into rich, creamy (preferably whole milk) yogurt for a Middle Eastern-style spread laced with cumin and chile. Moore makes a light dinner of roasted summer vegetables like eggplant, squash and peppers cooked in the coals of a barbecue to enhance their natural sweetness and served with the yogurt-jam spread and flatbread.

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