That’s right, each course of our feast was inspired by one of the pictured Queens. Last week we spent some time on the Iron Islands with Yara Greyjoy’s Queensmoot Fish and Turnip Stew. This week we are hopping to the southernmost coasts of Westeros and examining the relationship between Dorne and Highgarden.
Click here to jump to the recipe for Olenna Tyrell’s Rose & Redwyne Vinaigrette Salad.
Click here to jump to the recipe for Ellaria Sand’s Spiced Orange and Fig Cous Cous
An Unlikely Alliance
I know the show briefly glosses over the bitter rivalry between the Martell and Tyrell families. We hear a few quips and insults, but never really anything direct. The books, however, highlight a long history of war, murder, and misunderstanding.
The Reach and Dorne were always too close for each other’s comfort. The Reach initially functioned as its own kingdom under House Gardener. Later on, the Targaryens took over and bestowed its charge to Harlan Tyrell, the steward of Highgarden, when he surrendered the castle to Aegon the Conqueror. Dorne remained a separate country for another 200 years, and so the skirmishes and battles over their bordering territories continued. Combine this with a couple of nasty assassinations involving poison and scorpions (courtesy of House Martell) the resentment has plenty reason to run as deep as it does.
This open hostility only ends when Dorne joins the Seven Kingdoms, but old wounds never do completely heal. The hatred renews when Oberyn Martell cripples the heir, Lord-Not-Appearing-In-This-Show Willas Tyrell, in a jousting accident. Sadly enough, though, the two men hold no grudge against each other. If anything Mace Tyrell’s pride is at fault for setting up the ill-met match, to begin with, but I digress.
The show deviates in its characters as placing Ellaria Sand in the role of Prince Doran‘s daughter Arianne, as well as revealing that the sitting Prince of Dorne has been planning to help the Targaryens since the beginning. The showrunners’ story choice makes sense, however, as to how Ellaria reacts to her pain makes her ripe for an alliance with someone who hates the Lannisters just as much as she does.
Since the show is at the point of surpassing the books in the timeline, I can only assume the Sept of Baelor explosion and resulting alliance will also be canon. This is huge. As I said, these two families have centuries of hate towards each other — CENTURIES! What we can see from the current state of things, it’s not a desire for peace that brings these houses alike (in dignity) to bury the venom-tipped spear. It, instead, is a mutual desire to see Cersei and House Lannister burn.
With this alliance in mind, I wanted to create dishes that highlighted these characters while showing their recent influence on each other. The Reach and Highgarden are very similar to Provencial France, while Dorne is like a carbon-copy hybrid of Andalusian Spain and Morocco.
The Queen of Thorns
For Olenna Tyrell’s dish, I sought to show the abundance of French-inspired Highgarden with a mixed green salad with strawberries, almonds, and chevre. Feel free to try slicing up your strawberries to look like roses. I did a few for the main photo, though with thirteen other people to feed and five other dishes to plate and shoot, I immediately lost patience.
The matriarch of Highgarden was actually from the Redwyne Family before marrying Luthor Tyrell, and she certainly lives up to her maiden name. Like a fine wine, she shows her sophistication and substance. Cross her, though, and she becomes sour and biting as vinegar. So for the salad’s dressing, I made a honey vinaigrette using rose water and red wine vinegar so that it would be just the right mix of perfumed sweetness and stinging insult.
In reference to Dorne’s influence: rose water was and still is a very common ingredient in Morrocan dishes. You can even find it in recipes as old as the 1200’s in the Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook (compiled in the 13th century). If you’re having a hard time finding rose water at the store, I’ve included an affiliate link in the recipe below.
Olenna Tyrell's Rose & Redwyne Vinaigrette Salad
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons rose water
- black pepper
- kosher salt
- 4 cups mixed spring greens
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 4 oz goat cheese crumbles
- 1/2 carton of strawberries, sliced
- Distribute the greens among serving plates. Top with sliced almonds, goat cheese crumbles, and sliced strawberries.
- Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a mixing bowl and add salt and black pepper to taste. Drizzle a few teaspoons full of dressing on top of each salad and serve.
The Queen of Sand and Snakes
For Ellaria Sand I wanted to make a simple dish with complex flavors and textures. Through her stay at King’s Landing for Joffrey’s wedding, the nobles refuse to accept her as anything but a peasant in beautiful clothing. She feels no shame, though, and flaunts a colorful, yet wanton elegance even when her name is as common as sand.
This is because the Dornish nobles do not shame their bastards or common folk. They understand that the people, like sand, can shift or support depending on whether you nourish them or brush them away. The show version of Ellaria illustrates what happens when you do the latter. Prince Doran pays the price for ignoring the desires of Ellaria, the Sand Snakes, and his people. When the sand shifts, the snakes come out, the house falls, and all buries him.
So in regards to this metaphor, I made a staple Morrocan side dish with a texture reminiscent of sand – Cous Cous. The earliest references to these pebbly bits of pasta can also be found in the 13th-century compiled Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook. There are two types, though I decided to use the pearled variety to better infuse my flavorings over a longer simmer period.
To this I also added ras el hanout, meaning “head of the shop,” a spice blend from North African cuisine implied as the best spices a seller has to offer. Every blend is a little bit different. Though they usually include at least a dozen spices including cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, and turmeric. For some Highgarden influence, I used a Provencial herb – dried lavender. I’ve included affiliate links for both in the recipe below if you cannot find them in your local store.
Finally, for a kick of sweet and sour, I also mixed in some orange juice and dried mission figs. Both are common to cuisine in the region. Also, on a personal note, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in figs since I won Valley Fig Growers‘ door prize at Everything Food Conference this year. I’m not complaining, though. They are tasty. You can find the kind I used on their website or follow the affiliate link to Amazon on the recipe below.
Ellaria Sand's Spiced Orange and Fig Cous Cous
- 2 cups pearled cous cous
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1 orange
- 1/2 tablespoon ras el hanout
- 1/2 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sliced dried mission figs
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- Halve the orange, remove the seeds, and juice it into the pot with the water. Stir in the salt, lavender, and ras el hanout, and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Pour the cous cous into the pot and give it a few quick stirs to incorporate before covering with a lid. Turn the heat down to low and let cook 6-8 minutes until the water has mostly absorbed.
- Remove the pot from the burner and fluff the cous cous with a fork. Drizzle in the olive oil, stir in the figs, and add more salt to taste before serving.