River Nebra Salad

“One of the large desert regions of Dalmasca, located to the east of Rabanastre. Rife with all manner of monstrous beasts, it regularly plays host to hunts organized within the city.

“What settlements there are line the banks of the River Nebra, a vibrant blue vein running through the heart of the sands, wherein can be found ferries for the conveyance of travelers and goods across her flow. Many merchants make a point of stopping in the villages to trade on their way to and from Rabanastre.”

—FFXII, Sage Knowledge piece 46

You can change the character of this simple winter salad quite dramatically with different kinds of lettuce. I like butter lettuce and radicchio, or a mixture of baby kale, baby chard, and baby spinach.

  • 8 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound green beans
  • 5 ounces lettuce
  • ½ large red onion, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly against the grain
  • A handful of pitted olives, such as Kalamata
  • A few marinated artichokes
  • 2 skin-on wild Pacific salmon fillets, about 8 oz. each
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Chopped dill or other fresh herb

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper to a large serving bowl. Rinse green beans thoroughly. Trim ends, break in half, and pat dry. Add to bowl and toss. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until tender and slightly golden.

Divide lettuce between two bowls. Add onion, olives, and artichokes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon fillets skin side-down and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook until skin is rendered and crisp, about 5 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, allow it to continue to cook a little longer until it lifts easily.

Flip salmon, sprinkle skin with salt, and cook on second side until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 120°F for medium rare or 130°F for medium, about 1 minute longer.

Place a salmon fillet in each bowl on top of the vegetables, skin-side up. Arrange green beans on top.

In a small bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and several grinds of black pepper. Pour over the salad and garnish with fresh herbs.

Makes 2 servings.

Dalmascan Tomato Salad

Rogue Tomato“Here’s the bill I posted for the Rogue Tomato, the mark I’ve petitioned to have hunted. Do you want to hear all the details?”

—Tomaj, FFXII

This vegan summer salad is light and refreshing, but also quite hearty and filling — exactly what you need at the end of a long hunt.

  • ½ cup white quinoa (about 3 oz.)
  • ½ cup red quinoa (about 3 oz.)
  • 1 pound Persian cucumbers
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3–4 small tomatoes
  • ¼ ounce fresh mint

Place quinoa in a small pot and add 1½ cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15–20 minutes. Set aside, covered.

Meanwhile, wash the cucumbers, remove the ends, and slice thinly. Transfer to a medium bowl and add 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and ½ teaspoon salt. Toss to combine.

Preheat broiler with rack in highest position. Dry garbanzo beans on a paper towel and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Broil, shaking sheet halfway through, until golden and crispy, about 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, turmeric, cumin, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons water, ¼ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Slice tomatoes and sprinkle lightly with salt. Pick mint leaves from stems.

Divide quinoa between two bowls. Visualize each bowl as being divided into three sections. Place tomatoes in one section, cucumbers in another section, and chickpeas in the last section. Top with dressing and mint leaves.

Makes 2 bowls of salad. Per bowl: 871 calories, 36 g. fat, 583 mg. potassium, 1421 mg. sodium, 114 g. carbohydrates, 22 g. fiber, 28 g. protein, vitamin A 53%, vitamin C 68%, calcium 13%, iron 44%

Ivalice Stewed Chicken with Olives

Ivalice“Food would be a start—the good stuff, mind you.”

—Balthier, FFXII

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • One 2-ounce can anchovies, drained and chopped
  • 1½ lbs. skinless boneless chicken thighs, uncooked
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth, divided
  • 8 ounces fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup (180 grams) whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 12-ounce jar pitted Kalamata olives, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large, deep oven-safe skillet with lid.  Add onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing heat as needed to prevent burning. Add anchovies and spices and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Push anchovies and vegetables to the side and add chicken. Sprinkle with flour and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Slowly pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. When the wine is at a simmer, slowly pour in ½ cup broth. Add tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until chicken is very tender.

Uncover and stir in olives. Cook for 15 or so minutes until sauce is slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, place couscous in a large Tupperware container. Heat 1½ cups broth to boiling and pour over the couscous, stirring once to make sure that the liquid is evenly distributed. Cover tightly and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Fluff couscous with a fork and divide into 4 bowls, about 4 ounces of couscous per person. Divide stew into each bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Ivalice Eggs

Estersand“The region consisting of the three continents of Valendia, Ordalia, and Kerwon, blessed throughout with verdant natural landscapes and climatic conditions supporting a great variety of life. Regional climate trends are thought to be determined largely by the density of Mist present in the air, though this correlation is as yet not well understood. Many humanoids call Ivalice home, each belonging to a distinct cultural sphere. By far, most prevalent of these are the humes, and it is around the civilization that affairs throughout the rest of the world revolve.”

—FFXII, Sage Knowledge piece 29

  • ½ cup (90 grams) whole-wheat couscous
  • 1½ cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 ounces fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Place couscous in a large Tupperware container. Heat ¾ cup (6 ounces) of broth to boiling and pour over the couscous, stirring once to make sure that the liquid is evenly distributed. Cover tightly and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add onion and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, and cumin, and cook until spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes, lowering heat as necessary to avoid burning the vegetables.

Add chopped tomatoes and the remaining ¾ cup broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

Crack eggs one at a time and place over sauce, spacing evenly apart. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes.

Fluff couscous with a fork and divide into two bowls, about 4 ounces of couscous per person. Spoon tomatoes and eggs on top. Sprinkle with feta and parsley and serve.

Rabanastre Roast Chicken

Penelo and Vaan“It’s our home. It belongs to us all.”

—Penelo, FFXII

You’ll need about 4 small lemons or 2 large lemons for this recipe. You can buy ras el hanout at many stores, including Trader Joe’s, or make your own blend.

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 large or 2 small lemons
  • 1 garlic bulb, top sliced off to expose the cloves

For the spice paste:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large or 2 small lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ tablespoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Remove the giblets from the chicken and discard. Trim excess fat.

Place the chicken, breast-side down, on a rack in a roasting pan. Slice 1 large or 2 small lemons in half. Stuff the lemon halves and garlic bulb inside the chicken cavity.

Put the chicken in the oven and begin roasting, uncovered. Meanwhile, mix together the spice paste ingredients.

After the chicken has roasted for about 20 minutes, remove from the oven and spoon some of the spice paste on top. Turn the chicken breast-side up and baste again. Return to oven.

Check on the chicken after 20 minutes have passed, and baste with the remainder of the spice paste. The breast should be beginning to brown; if not, roast for a few more minutes.

Reduce heat to 325 degrees and roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160 to 165 degrees.

Tilt the pan or the chicken to let the juices from the bird’s cavity flow into the pan (if they are red, cook another 5 minutes). Remove the chicken to a platter or carving board and let it rest for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the garlic bulb from the chicken and place on the roasting rack. Return to the over and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or so, until the garlic is very tender and comes out from the cloves when squeezed.

While the garlic is baking, carve the chicken. Serve with the soft garlic and pan juices.

Rabanastre Chicken Stew

Rabanastre, Southern Plaza“I’d just hate to see the Consul upset because his food wasn’t ready on time.”

—Vaan, FFXII

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup blanched, slivered raw almonds
  • 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground dried ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8-12 garlic cloves (1 bulb), peeled and halved
  • 1 lb. carrots, scrubbed and sliced diagonally
  • 12 oz. frozen artichoke hearts
  • 1 15-oz. can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¾ oz. flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup)

Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook for 10 minutes. Stir frequently and reduce heat if the onions are browning too quickly.

Add the almonds and chicken pieces to the soup pot. Sprinkle with spices and salt. Brown chicken on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic and stir well to combine. Cook 5 minutes. Add carrots and artichoke hearts.  Stir and continue to cook, about 5 minutes.  Add chickpeas, broth, and cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Remove from heat and stir in parsley and lemon juice.  Remove cinnamon stick and serve.

Makes about 11 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving: 332 calories, 14.4 g. fat, 3.1 g. saturated fat, 2.4 g. poly. fat, 7 g. mono. fat, 75.9 mg. cholesterol, 1165.8 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade broth instead of storebought), 459.8 mg. potassium, 18.9 g. carbohydrates, 6.1 g. fiber, 32.1 g. protein, vitamin A 47%, vitamin C 10%, calcium 8%, iron 13%

Sandsea Salmon Chowder

Vaan at the Ogir-Yensa SandseaMigelo: “I’ve arranged for some replacement goods from Tomaj over at the Sandsea.”

Vaan: “So you want me to go to the tavern to pick ’em up.”

Migelo: “Actually, I asked Kytes to do that. Wouldn’t you know he’s gone missing on me, too. Bah. I can’t leave my shop, and I’ve Penelo on another chore at the moment, you see. I want you to run over to the Sandsea and fetch Kytes back! What do you say?”

Vaan: “Sounds wild.”

—FFXII

Potatoes don’t freeze well (they tend to get mealy), so divide this recipe in half if it’s more than you can eat within a week.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 1½ cup chopped celery stalks (about 6 stalks)
  • About ½ bottle of white wine, such as Pinot Grigio (1½ cups)
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 16-ounce package frozen corn kernels
  • 1 pound smoked peppered salmon, flaked into pieces
  • 4 6-ounce cans of skinless boneless salmon, drained
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce, such as Cholula or Tapatio

Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 10 minutes, covered. Stir frequently and reduce heat if the onions are browning too quickly. Add celery and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add wine, broth, and thyme and bring to a boil.

Add potatoes, cream, and milk. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 1 hour, being very careful not to let the milk boil. Stir in corn, salmon, and hot sauce and continue to simmer, uncovered, until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove thyme springs and serve.

Makes about 15 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving: 366 calories, 20 g. fat, 8.3 g. saturated fat, 0.3 g. poly. fat, 1.9 g. mono. fat, 73.4 mg. cholesterol, 846 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought), 480.9 mg. potassium, 27 g. carbohydrates, 3.1 g. fiber, 22 g. protein, vitamin A 10%, vitamin C 10%, calcium 7%, iron 6%