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Tag: almonds

Vegetarian Harira with Date and Almond Couscous

harira

I feel like it’s high time I give you guys something sweet for you to sink your teeth into, but for some reason it’s the savouries that have captured me and taken me on a trip to enthusiasmville, and I must say I quite like it.

Up next is a soup I had forgotten about for more than two years, which is bordering on criminal because it truly is a beautiful soup. Harira is one of those exotically seductive yet immensely comforting soups, flashy enough to serve as a special dinner but also perfect for a midweek meal. To make up for the lack of lamb in this vego version, I’ve added a few chopped up dried porcini mushrooms. I’ve also replaced celery, not because I have split feelings about it, but because I think that parsley stalks have an incredibly complex flavour, which cooked along in the soup do a fabulous job at adding that dynamic that usually le celery is responsible for. The medley of spices work spiffingly with the vibrant tomatoey broth, and is made even better by the accompaniment of the sweet buttery almond-flecked couscous. The soup will taste better the next day, as most soups do. But even a few hours after you’ve cooked it will do if that’s all the time you’ve got.

And yes I have a thing for shooting food in tiny (blue) dishes. And no, that is not a serving size I would ever dare to serve someone, let alone myself.

Vegetarian Harira with Date and Almond Couscous

Serves 4

4 slices dried porcini mushroom, very finely shopped

3-4 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cinnamon quill

1 tsp each of ground turmeric, ginger, cumin and paprika

1 pinch saffron

the stalks of half a bunch of parsley, tied in a knot

1 large red capsicum, finely chopped

400g tin chopped tomatoes

800ml stock

1 can chickpeas, half of them crushed with a fork

splash of soy sauce, salt

¼ tsp chilli flakes

half a bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped

half a bunch coriander, leaves picked

Place the chopped porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion and carrot. Fry until softened. Add the garlic and the spices, and stir until fragrant. Add the soaked mushrooms with their liquid, the capsicum, parsley stalks, capsicum, chopped tomatoes and the stock, and bring to the boil. Let it cook until all of the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Add the chickpeas and soy sauce and season to taste with the salt and chilli flakes. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with the parsley and coriander. Serve with the couscous (below).

almond and date couscous

Almond and Date Couscous

Serves 4

1 big nob of butter

1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped

1 cup / 190g couscous

1/2 tsp cinnamon, plus more to serve

1 cup /250ml boiling vegetable stock

10 dates, chopped into tiny cubes

1/3 cup /40g slivered almonds, toasted

In a small pan, melt the butter and add the garlic. Once it starts to go golden, remove from the heat and stir in the couscous and cinnamon. Pour over the boiling veggie stock and cover for about 5 minutes until completely absorbed. Fluff with a fork and stir through the chopped dates. Divide the couscous amongst serving dishes and top with the toasted almonds.

Quinoa Tabbouli with Feta, Almonds and Dates

tabbouli

“Another salad with feta eh? That’s so imaginative of you”. Ja, that’s me! If you knew how rarely I actually sat down and ate a proper salad, you’d be throwing feta at me by the bucketful ok? If I’m going to have a salad that’s worth my while, it’s got to be substantial, and if it’s that, it’ll probably need a few yum-factors in there to make me actually want to finish it. Who eats a whole bowl of quinoa on its own anyway. Nobody that calls themselves my friend, that’s for sure.

All that aside, this salad is well and truly a pretty damn tasty one, even if you omit the feta (don’t). Tabbouli has always been in my life in some way or another, in the form of a packet mix, as a component of my salad bar lunch, or that one time we had an unforgettable meal at this incredibly authentic and charming restaurant in the heart of a million little windy streets in Cairo.

In my hope to make it  more of a main meal type thing, sturdy enough to be packed away as a work lunch, and happy enough to sit in the fridge for a few days without getting grumpy at me or losing its flavour, I created this little thing. I’ve gone out and jazzed up the grain component with our trusty quinoa, added some cinnamon to the mix and roasted the cherry tomatoes to increase its fridge life. Throw in some almonds for crunch, some dates for added sweetness, and some feta for that hit of salty tang, and you are in for one sexy date with your lunchbox.

Tabbouli with Feta, Almonds and Dates

Serves 4

 

1 cup / 170g quinoa

2 cups / 500ml vegetable stock

1 tsp cinnamon

400g cherry tomatoes, halved

2 big bunches parsley, finely chopped

1 bunch mint, finely chopped

4 spring onions, finely chopped

2 lemons, juice

1/4 cup / 60ml olive oil

salt

100g Danish feta, crumbled

8 dates, finely chopped

1/2 cup / 60g slivered almonds, toasted

 

First, combine the quinoa, stock and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Cook it on a small flame, covered, until it’s done. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and lay out the halved cherry tomatoes on it. Sprinkle them with a little salt and let them relax in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they start going wrinkly and have reduced in size. Remove and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the chopped parsley, mint, spring onion and quinoa. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and as much salt as you think is necessary.

When you’re ready to serve, scoop out a nice amount onto a plate and top with some of the cherry tomatoes, some crumbled feta, the chopped dates, and a sprinkling of the toasted almonds.

 

The salad will keep well in the fridge for at least 3 days. To ensure complete satisfaction every time you eat it, keep all the components separate in the fridge.

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