I usually get my inspiration for new recipes either by tasting something new when I am out, or by watching cooking shows that introduce unfamiliar ingredients and recipes. For this week’s recipe, I saw an Egyptian spinach and cheese pie recipe on the Food Network that looked and sounded so delicious. Duqqa (or dukkah) was used as a topping for the dish. I had never heard of it before and had to find out more.
Duqqa is an Egyptian blend of nuts, seeds, spices and sometimes herbs that are toasted and then finely ground up. Traditionally it is served dry in a bowl alongside dipping oil with bread to dip into each. YUM! I couldn’t wait to experiment and make my own. Once I found a combination of ingredients that I loved, it was easy coming up with a way to incorporate it into an appetizer. This very simple, yet unique and interesting dish is great for entertaining and pairs very well with wine and cocktails.
I made my duqqa using toasted pistachios, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts, but you can choose any combination of nuts you like or even just use one kind of nut. The nuts, seeds and spices that I chose are the perfect complement for goat cheese which I spread on small rounds of toasted baguette. For a finishing touch, I add a drizzle of honey across each piece to add sweetness to the saltiness of the duqqa and the tanginess of the goat cheese. Although it is slightly sticky and messy, the honey is a must. It makes such a well-rounded bite! I love how both simple and unique, salty and sweet, crunchy and creamy this dish is. I also love how you can change the flavors by choosing your own spices, seeds and nuts to suit your taste buds. It is also really nice that you can store the duqqa in Tupperware in your pantry and it will last quite a while.
Be creative with your own choices for nuts and seeds. For example if you love the taste of rye bread you may want to use caraway seeds. You may want a peppery flavor or prefer black sesame seeds over white. You may dislike fennel and opt out of those. Don’t be afraid to make this your own. Also, make sure you only add salt if you are using unsalted nuts. If you use salted nuts, taste the final duqqa blend first to see if it needs more salt. Feel free to also use your duqqa as a topping on other dishes or serve it the traditional way in bowl along with some dipping oil and great bread. Hope you love this as much as I do. Enjoy!
RECIPE TUNES (because everything is always better with music)
NOTE: I recommend unsalted nuts, but when I made this I only could find salted pistachios. If you use any nuts that are already salted like I did simply taste everything after you combine it and blend it all BEFORE adding any extra salt so it is not too salty.
- 1/2 cup macadamia nuts (recommend unsalted)
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts (recommend unsalted)
- 1/2 pistachios (recommend unsalted)
- 3 TBSP coriander seeds
- 1 TBSP cumin seeds
- 1/2 TBSP fennel seeds
- 1/2 TBSP mustard seeds
- 3 TBSP sesame seeds (I used white but any will work great)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1-2 tsp sugar
- 8 oz. log of plain goat cheese at room temp. (easier to spread)
OR 8 oz. of plain spreadable goat cheese found in containers. (I will include a photo of this because it spreads so much smoother than the logs of goat cheese. It is awesome if you can find it.)
- 1 French baguette sliced in 1/4-1/2 ” rounds
- 1 small jar or honey (I recommend the kind in a squeezeable bottle out because it is much easier to drizzle it this way.)
- 1 nutmeg nut to grate fresh over your duqqa when it is done
- Turn your oven or toaster on to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and place all of your nuts on it. Toast them for 5-10 minutes until they become shiny, fragrant and the lighter nuts begin to brown. (Every oven is different so keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.) Once they are toasted remove them from the oven and let them cool.
- Put all of your seeds (coriander, cumin, fennel, mustard, and sesame) in a pan over medium-high heat and toast them until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. (You may hear them start to pop when they are done.) Remove them from the heat and let them cool a few minutes.
NOTE: Feel free to omit any seeds you do not like and also feel free to add any you believe will work well together.
- Place your toasted nuts and your toasted seeds into a food processor adding a pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of kosher salt. (DO NOT ADD THE SALT IF YOUR NUTS WERE ALREADY SALTED.) Pulse everything until it is all blended and finely ground. Taste it and add salt and/or more sugar to your liking. I prefer having a very balanced salty-sweet consistency however you may prefer a more savory balance and not want to add more sugar, it is truly a personal taste preference. Keep in mind it will be pairing with goat cheese and honey as well. You may even want to taste it with the cheese and honey before deciding if you want more salt and/or sugar.
- When done pour your duqqa into a bowl and ground some fresh nutmeg on top (about 8 swipes across your grinder, just enough to add a touch of fresh spice). Stir the duqqa with the nutmeg and set it aside.
- Slice your baguette into appetizer-sized rounds and then toast the bread to be slightly golden and crunchy. This is about 4-6 min in your oven at 350 or just as easily can be toasted in a standard toaster oven. Allow the toast to cool when it is done.
- Spread all of your rounds with a generous dollop of goat cheese as seen in photos below.
- Using a small spoon generously top your goat cheese with the duqqa blend as seen photos below.
- Just before serving to guests drizzle all of your rounds with honey and plate them with fresh fruit or any other accompaniments you like.
NOTE: This appetizer pairs exceptionally well with your favorite wine, mine being a full-bodied, low tannin cabernet.