Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

I was so jazzed when one of my favorite bloggers, Yossy Arefi of Apt 2B Baking Co. published a cookbook this past spring, and yeah I totally went to a signing at Union Square Farmer’s Market just to have my copy autographed. Her inventive flavor combinations, unfussy baking style, and gorgeous photography never fail to inspire me in the kitchen. I’ve been slowly working my way through Sweeter Off the Vine, a book that focuses on seasonal fruit-focused recipes, and couldn’t wait to make the Pavlova with Rhubarb.

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

I’m a bit late to the party since rhubarb season is coming to an end, but if you have a few stalks left that need a great opportunity to shine or a have been stockpiling it like I have then this is for you. A showstopper that does take a few steps, but is so worth it when the sweet crisp meringue, cool smooth whipped cream, and tart rhubarb hit your palate. I liked the twist of making them individual portions a little crunch from toasted pistachios – and who can resist that pale green color against the fuchsia pink.

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Rhubarb and Pistachios (yield 12 servings)

Meringue Ingredients:
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
kosher salt

Topping Ingredients:
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced on the bias into 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup roasted unsalted pistachios, chopped

Meringue Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups of sugar with the cornstarch. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the wire whisk attachment or (large mixing bowl with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on high speed until firm, 1-2 minutes. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar mixture a little at a time.

The mixture will start off looking foamy and frothy, then turn white and look closer to soft whipped cream, eventually resembling melted marshmallow fluff. Continue to beat on high until the meringue is solid white and forms shiny, firm peaks, about 12-15 minutes. The true test? Turn off the mixer and once the whisk has stopped spinning, remove the whisk from the meringue – both the meringue in the bowl and the meringue on the should form matching points like snowy mountain tops.

Once the meringue is ready sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and the vinegar on top and fold in gently with a rubber spatula to combine.

With a pencil, draw 6 circles approximately 4 inches in diameter (think the size of a water glass) on each of the parchment-lined sheets and turn over. You’ll still be able to see the guides, but you won’t get pencil markings on your meringue!

Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchment into the delineated circles, and spread and smooth to fill. Use the back of the spoon to make an indentation in the center and form a shallow bowl – that’s where the whipped cream and fruit will go later.

Put the sheet pans into the oven, immediately turn it down to 300 degrees F, and bake for 30 minutes rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time. Turn the oven off and leave them in for another 30 minutes with the oven door closed. The remove the sheets from the oven and slide the parchment paper and meringues over to wire racks to cool. Once fully cooled, meringues can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Topping Instructions:
For the rhubarb topping, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine rhubarb, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Bake until just tender, about 10 to 12 minutes, spooning juices over halfway through.

Carefully transfer rhubarb pieces (they will be quite soft) to a bowl and reserve juices. Let cool completely.

Just before serving, beat together heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until soft peaks form.

Place meringues on a plated and fill each one with whipped cream. Top the whipped cream with the poached rhubarb, and garnish with pistachios. Spoon rhubarb juices over the pavlova, and serve immediately.

Inspired by and written with reference to Yossy Arefi’s Rhubarb Pavlovas in Sweeter Off the Vine (pg. 27), pistachio component from Martha Stewart’s Pavlova with Rhubarb and Pistachios, and assistance with miniaturization from Nigella Lawson’s Mini Pavlovas with Berries. Thank you, Ladies.

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Mini Pavlovas with Roasted Rhubarb and Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a stand mixer (but a handheld would work just as well), medium mixing bowl, spatula, two rimmed baking sheets, chef’s knife, a medium cutting board, glass baking dish, tongs, measuring cups and spoons.

Israeli Couscous Salad with Cherries & Pistachios

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

There’s been a lot of cooking lately, not that you could tell by the sporadic posts around these parts. The trouble with cooking is that a recipe that looks amazing on Pinterest turns out to be a dud. Case in point: the overly salty falafel I made earlier this week. Sometimes it’s me though, and I discover that fish tacos were never meant to be eaten like nachos. That there is a reason you don’t see them on menus, genius. Sigh.

All that is to say – there is quality control around here, it just means that when I hit a rough patch like I have the past few weeks I post less frequently than I’d like while I fiddle around getting things just right. My goal is only to share recipes I’d be proud to serve, or pass along to my friends, like this one here.

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

This essentially a pasta salad made a little fancy with additions like crumbled goat cheese and toasted pistachios. It also offers a little bit of a departure from the classic vinaigrette or mayonnaise-based dressings by incorporating pomegranate molasses.

If you’re wondering where on earth you’ll get pomegranate molasses the way I did when I first saw it in the ingredient list, let me reassure you. It’s easy to make it yourself by simmering plain pomegranate juice with a little sugar and fresh lemon juice until it reduces and thickens. I actually did it a few weeks ago following this recipe from Fine Cooking and it works perfectly, I bet it would also work with plain cranberry juice too if pomegranate isn’t available.

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

Israeli Couscous Salad with Cherries & Pistachios (serves 6-8 as a side)

Ingredients:
2 cups Israeli couscous (pearl pasta)
1/4 cup Pomegranate Molasses
2 1/2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon raspberry vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw)
2 cups dried cherries
1/2 cup toasted pistachios
1 1/2 cups, packed fresh parsley and mint leaves
2 ounces crumbled plain goat cheese
4 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves

Instructions:
In a medium sauce pan, bring two cups of salted water to a low boil, then add the couscous and simmer on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or according to the package directions until al dente.

While the couscous is cooking, whisk together the pomegranate molasses, champagne vinegar, raspberry vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and salt.

When the couscous is done, drain through a fine mesh sieve and place in a large mixing bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over while the pasta is still warm and stir together. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toast the pistachios in a dry skillet over low heat, chop the herbs and crumble the goat cheese. When the couscous is cooled to room temperature, stir in the prepped ingredients. Add the baby spinach just before serving.

Rewritten and adapted from Couscous Salad with Fresh Cherries by Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I needed a medium sauce pan, mesh sieve, medium bowl, and a small sauté pan. A cutting board, chef’s knife, measuring spoons, a liquid measuring cup, and a large mixing spoon. That’s it!

The Verdict:
I made a few changes to the original to reflect our preferences, a slight softening of the vinegar bite with a touch of raw sugar. A sprinkle of toasted pistachios to continue the Middle Eastern flavors, a generous crumble of goat cheese to balance against the tart cherries, a handful or so of baby spinach to bring the dish more firmly into the realm of salad. All told, this is a great side to serve during the final grilling parties of the summer and is simple to whip up in just a few minutes. My kind of recipe!

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith