Friday, June 22, 2007

Scallion Spread

Have you ever had a suppressed food memory? The kind that's been hiding in the far squiggly corner of your brain for 15 years or so. It always amazes me what makes such dusty memories come out. Sometimes, all it takes is a really good bunch of scallions.

I love scallions and cook with them quite often, but it's rare that I manage to work my way through the whole bunch before it goes bad. The problem with scallions is that you rarely need a ton of them. They are usually used as an herb/garnish, or in small quantities instead of shallots. So what do you do if you end up with a ton of them, like we just did from our farm-share? And what if they are so fresh, slender, and delicious that having any of them go to waste would just be a sin? That's when it's time to dust off some food memories. I remember my Mom making a spread with them in Moscow when I was little. From what I remembered, it contained tvorog. This fresh cheese, called "farmer's cheese" in English, is similar to ricotta, but a bit denser and much more tangy. It's easy to get at most Whole Foods Markets. My favorite brand is "Friendship." If you go to a Russian grocer, you'll find 5-10 brands of tvorog. Some of them are great and some have nothing to common with tvorog I remember from Russia. If this is your first time buying tvorog, I would still stick to the Friendship brand until you know what it's supposed to taste like.

This spread is so simple that there is really not much of a recipe to it. Just combine a lot of chopped scallions (about 1/2 - 3/4 cup) with 1/2 Lb farmer's cheese, 2-3 Tbsp sour cream (or thick full-fat yogurt), and salt/pepper to taste. Mix well. That's all there is to it. Don't worry about measurements. If you have more scallions, just throw them in. As long as the mixture is spreadable, you can't go wrong.

What amazes me about this little spread is its versatility. In Russia, if my memory serves me right, it was called a "scallion salad" and eaten right with the fork as part of zakuski spread (small dishes similar to tapas). But I actually prefer it spread on bread, or mixed with a green salad that was tossed with a little vinaigrette. The farmer's cheese mixes with the dressing and makes a really yummy coating for the greens.

The other day, I was looking for something more substantial for lunch than a salad, and decided to toss it with some lightly buttered pasta. Wow! That was good. After adding the spread to a pot of hot pasta, I set it over low heat for 30 seconds or so, just until the cheese warmed up and started to melt into a creamy, oniony sauce. It had that perfect green and tangy feel to it. Refreshing, but satisfying.

10 comments:

Alex said...

Looks yummy.
I make a spread that I use in place of mayo on sandwiches that is comprised of greek yogurt, farmer's cheese, garlic and s&p that I love. The amounts are different, more yogurt than cheese but I love the combination. I'll have to try it with scallions and I can't wait to try it with pasta! What a great idea. Thanks.

BipolarLawyerCook said...

Helen, I love the new site layout! It looks fantastic.

Arfi Binsted said...

WOW! Looks delicious, Helen! Great up-close photo...oh YUM!! I like the sound of melting cheese...!

Helen said...

Hi BipolarLawyerCook,

Yes, as you have noticed I am messing around with layout options. I am thinking that this layout will use the screen real estate a little better :) Need to work on branding too. I've had a blog for almost 2 years and still haven't gotten past the pre-canned template.

Cheers,
-Helen

Katerina said...

haha, I yeah I just managed to get out of the pre-canned template myself. It is amazing how fast time flies!

Sometimes I make scallion cream cheese out of it for leftovers, it is one of my favorites to have on a bagel, yum. I guess I will have to make a trek to Whole Foods!

CVB said...

Hello I am a newbie to the site and it looks very candid and do-able gourmet. (bad english) Easily acessible, too. I get turned off away by sites that you have to register just to post a comment. Im looking foward to attempting cooking skate wing again WITHOUT cursing and throwing it away!

Thanks

CVB

CVB said...

BTW what is that recipe of those zuchinni-looking roll-up things on the homepage banner on top? looks interesting....

Helen said...

Hi CVB,

Welcome to Beyond Salmon :) The picture in the banner are salmon cucumber rolls, but this idea works with most fish leftovers.

Cheers,
-Helen

Anonymous said...

Try scallions in making soup, instead of leeks.

Ruth said...

This sounds similar to the ricotta filling I "found" while making a strata out of a Mollie Katzen book. Hers had rosemary and a pinch of cayenne powder. Gives it a nice zing! I always use the whole bunch and use the extra filling for omelettes, anything really.

I think I'll try this simplified version out though. Let the scallions shine a little more. Probably will go great with the salmon for lunch tomorrow.