Category Archives: Mezze

A ‘green harissa’ feast..

I recently came across a ‘verbena harissa’ that sounded and looked interesting…so I read the ingredients and created a version of my own…

Look at all that green goodness! I think it worked well, I’m thoroughly enjoying eating it anyway.. My experimental recipe is below.

Yesterday I reheated some leftover roasted vegetables from our Sunday lunch, added some freekeh..

..then spooned over lots of my green concoction and drizzled with tahini..

OMG! Heavenly!! There literally aren’t the words to tell you how good it was! 
So, back to my ‘green harissa’..


Ingredients

Frozen spinach, 6-7 cubes, defrosted & drained 

Frozen peas, defrosted & drained 

Coriander, small bunch

Dried parsley, 1 tbsp

Dried lemon verbena, 2 big pinches 

Preserved lemon, 1 washed & finely chopped

Garlic, 1-2 cloves depending on size peeled

Spices: equal amounts of  cumin, coriander & caraway seeds and star anise, toasted, cooled and ground, then 2-3 tsp added to the mix, you can store any leftovers for future and other uses 

Aleppo chilli flakes, 1-2 tbsp depending on taste

Pinch of salt 

Vegetable OR rapeseed oil, 2-3 tbsp

Lemon juice, 1-2 tbsp as required 

Method

Except for the peas, put everything into a blender and process it to a consistency you like

Remove from the blender and stir the peas in gently by hand

Spoon into a jar and store in the fridge overnight for the flavour to develop

To use: remove from the fridge an hour before use, stir well and use at will!

An attempt at a close up 

What do you think? I hope you think it looks as interesting as it tastes..I’m sharing this with everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Margy and Anugya..

Making za’atar…

Za’atar is one of the key flavours from the area of cuisine close to my heart, typical in so many Levantine dishes and homes. You can read more details about za’atar here, but in short: 

Za’atar can refer to wild thyme or dried thyme alone, or to a herb and spice mix in which thyme is king. If you read a recipe that states za’atar being required, it can easily require just thyme, but if you use the whole mix, that will work too! 

I’ve tried many many versions of za’atar, it is typically traditionally a mix of thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and salt, often including oregano and/or marjoram, sometimes including coriander seeds or cumin seeds…it’s one of those things that every home in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, all over the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean, will have their own safely guarded version of making. And of course, everyone’s is the best! 

It can be used as a condiment, put on the table next to your salt and pepper, and sprinkled liberally over everything! Or mixed with olive oil to create a dip, or spread over flatbreads to make manaeesh. Or added to sandwiches of feta and salad…the possibilities are endless. 

Za’atar boasts lots of health benefits from its lovely ingredients, and is said to increase your intelligence – what’s not to like?! 

And of course, at this time of year, it could also create a homemade gift 🙂 

I haven’t liked all of the various versions I’ve tried, so it was time to make my own and I read a recipe recently including cumin seeds, and having bought fresh thyme at the market, i made it this weekend. 

So my version includes equal amounts of sesame seeds and cumin seeds, lightly toasted and cooled; a smaller amount of sumac, an even smaller amount of salt, and lots and lots of fresh thyme leave stripped from the stalks. You can chop up the leaves and blend it all in a food processor, but I roughly chopped the thyme by hand and stirred it all together. You can also use dried thyme instead of fresh. 

It smells amazing!!!! 

You can play around with quantities and what you add or don’t, it’s all about your own taste, I’m really happy with this mix and have been throwing it over everything I’ve eaten since! 

This was yesterday’s lunch, grilled aubergines with za’atar. I added the za’atar for the last couple of minutes only and kept an eye on it, otherwise it would burn. I ate these with some freshly made chunky mutabal and muhammara. 

I hope your week is going well 🙂 

Spiced sprouts, farro & pine nuts..

This was my dinner last night, and too good not to share! 

It includes…

Coconut oil, 2 tablespoons  

Red onions, 4 small, peeled and roughly chopped

Garlic, 4 large cloves, peel and roughly chopped 

Sprouts, a couple of handfuls, outer leaves removed, and quartered 

Shawarma spice mix, a couple of tablespoons (you can find details in this post)

Farro, half a cup, cooked my way 

Pine nuts, a little handful 

Dried barberries, a little handful

Tahini, as much as you want!

I cooked it pretty much as I’ve written the list above: 

I heated the coconut oil in a wide pan and started by cooking the onions over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes; I then added the garlic and sprouts and cooked them for a few minutes, before adding the spice mix. I cooked it for a few minutes, adding a splash of water as necessary to stop the spices from burning, before adding the farro and pine nuts. Once it was all warm enough and the sprouts were cooked sufficiently, I served myself half of the panful, topped with dried barberries and drizzled with tahini..

The collection of ingredients worked so well together, the farro added a lovely chew and the pine nuts added a nice crunch, and of course the tahini added the perfect finish! 

Sprouts need never be boring! Enjoy! 

Jerusalem artichokes and ‘chtitha’…

On Sunday I came home from a local farmers market with some different squashes, and a punnet of Jerusalem artichokes – when I saw the artichokes I was determined to try them, I’ve seen several recipes including them recently but have never tried them myself..

The artichokes are tubers and look a lot like small misshapen potatoes. 

As is my way, the first thing I did was roast half of them to see how they taste; I recall clearly from what I’ve read that Jerusalem artichokes go brown very quickly, so I washed them throughly, dried them, them chopped up everything else I wanted to roast first, got the oven ready, then cut them into halves and threw them in. 

I roasted them with carrots, red onions and garlic, adding pul biber chilli flakes and sweet paprika after about 25 minutes. I ate them with half a roasted squash, tahini sauce and homous..

The artichokes may look and act like baby potatoes, but the flavour and texture is quite different. They are not floury like potatoes, they maintain a slight crunch, and have an earthier, nuttier flavour.

With the other half, I took the recommendation of lovely Linda from La Petite Paniere; Linda said that she likes to make an Algerian dish called ‘chtitha’ with Jerusalem artichokes and chickpeas, so that’s what I did, and it was so good! Following a recipe from Linda’s blog, I made a paste of garlic, harissa, sweet paprika, ras el hanout and ‘fliou’ or mint…

Which I cooked in olive oil before adding some water, then the chickpeas, followed by peeled and chopped artichokes..

Shown here with some tahini sauce, it was so tasty! 

I also whizzed up some of the leftover veg from the night before with some tahini sauce to make a dip which i ate with it too, as shown on the right below..

I will definitely be making the chtitha paste again and cooking everything I can think of in it!!! You must visit Linda’s recipe if only to read what the word chtitha means 😉 

And today I finished off the leftover chtitha with the roasted acron squash and homous..

All in all a very enjoyable couple of meals. The squash has been lovely too. 

I do recommend trying the artichokes if you can find them, but I recommend making the chtitha more! 

Roasted vegetable soup..

Yes, another thick soup from my kitchen. This one is really simple, just several trays of vegetables, all baked/roasted, then puréed together..

This includes butternut squash, sweet potato, red onions and garlic. I chopped up the butternut squash, sweet potato and red onions, split a whole bulb of garlic into cloves, and roasted/baked them all separately on large trays. (I say baked because I didn’t put any oil with the butternut squash, I think it cooks well chopped into huge wedges and baked, whereas the other elements I drizzled with olive oil.)  Once cooked, I removed the skin from the butternut squash, left the skin on the sweet potatoes, squeezed the garlic out of their skins, and added them all and the onions and all of the oil and juices from the pans, to a large pot over a medium heat. 

I added some water and chilli flakes and started to mash it all together, then blended it with a stick blender. Done! 

I froze batches for my lovely man to take to work, and saved some for me, which I ate with Moroccan spiced homous stirred through it and topped with seeds and slivered almonds…

Yum!

 I’m bringing my soup along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the amazing Petra, and Antonia 🙂 

Happy weekend!

A new dip born of leftovers…

Just like the dip I recently posted, this one (the orange one sitting within the straight homous above) was the result of blending leftovers from a recent meal. And will now form a dip recipe in its own right in my kitchen. 

I made myself a meal of leftovers one evening…I started with chopped red onions, which I cooked in coconut oil, over a medium heat, until they became lovely soft and starting to brown; I then added chopped garlic and red peppers, and cooked for a bit longer; then added some of my rose harissa spice mix, and cooked for a minute, before adding washed and drained chickpeas, and cooked it all through together. 

I ate this with some freshly cooked farro and quinoa, but sadly I have no photos as I just got on and ate it!

I then put the leftovers into my blender with lemon juice and tahini and whizzed it into a smooth dip, and put it in the fridge overnight for the flavours to develop – the outcome is a lovely flavoursome homous. And I mean really REALLY tasty! 

There really is nothing better than leftovers, the flavours are always more developed!

I hope you’ve all had a good week, and have a lovely weekend ahead of you. I’m taking my dip over to Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Judi and Maggie, have fun!

Luscious lunches…

I make a lot of food. A LOT.

Let me explain: I eat virtually every single meal that I ever eat at home, and I make every single part of those meals.  And I eat a lot!!

I might eat food that I haven’t made a MAXIMUM of twice a month; other than that, I only ever eat food that I have made myself. And I love it! I know exactly what’s going into my body, and I know that I’m going to enjoy my food, and that it’s going to nourish me in every possible way. (And actually, on the occasions that I do eat something that I haven’t made, I end up feeling like I’ve missed out, because I miss eating my own food!)

I don’t ever ‘grab a sandwich’ or open a pot of soup or any kind of packet; I eat meals I can take time over, time to make and time to eat. I make versions of past dishes, versions of elements of dishes, new dishes, experiments, I use lots of leftovers, I make make make all the time.  I have a lot of food preparation happening in my kitchen constantly, for me and my boys. I routinely cook a couple of different grains at a time and have them available in the fridge; I endlessly roast vegetables to use once cooked and to create leftovers; I make sauces, dips, spice mixes, marinations, doughs, salads, chillis, curries, the list goes on…and a big part of this is because I can, I have the time, and because I want to. I spend a lot of time cleaning my kitchen too!

I also take a lot of photos of my food! Instagram is great for sharing those dishes daily, but not everyone is on Instagram and I like to share them on here too, in the hope that I may provide ideas and inspiration. Sometimes I wonder if each dish constitutes a post of their own, but then I think they’re too simple, hence why I share collections of dishes, which is what I am doing again today. And I’ve decided to call this, and future, collections ‘luscious lunches’ as these are typically my lunch dishes.

I am also co hosting Fiesta Friday today, along with Michelle from O Blog Off, and look forward to the huge amounts of weekly inspiration that I’m sure I will find there 🙂 

So, let me show you some recent dishes from my kitchen…there’s been a lot of Levantine and Middle Eastern flavours recently…

Chunks of carrot and sweet potato, steamed, then finished in a pan with coconut oil; with a version of chimichurri made with lots of verjus instead of vinegar, and added crushed roasted hazelnuts. 

Leftover roasted aubergines as per my previous post, with tomatoes and chopped parsley, and a version of chermoula, and toasted slivered almonds. 

Wedges of butternut squash, roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and dukkah, with a sauce of yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice & pomegranate juice, topped with fresh coriander and pomegranate seeds.

Leftover freekeh and couscous topped with leftover roasted carrots from one meal that became…

…this lunch, topped with sumac, tahini sauce, dried barberries, toasted slivered almonds & pistachios.

Couscous with parsley, coriander, dukkah, toasted almonds & dried barberries, with a dressing of lemon juice & olive oil.

The above salad eaten with a salad of cooked carrot mashed with herbs, tabil spice mix, tahini & lemon juice.

Cauliflower roasted with olive oil & hawaayij spice mix, with freshly made homous.

Roasted butternut squash slices, topped with a thinned homous & toasted nuts, with baby plum tomatoes and a salad of aubergine, garlic, chopped parsley, tahini & lemon juice.

Couscous with roasted butternut squash, red onions & garlic. 

Carrot and herb salad.

A pan full of red onion, garlic and tomatoes, cooked in coconut oil, with several spoonfuls of my Mexican chilli and cocoa sauce, avocado, egg and grated hard goats cheese. 

And this dish at the start of this post, aubergine, tomatoes, chopped herbs, freekeh, and homous

Lots of fresh vegetables, and goodness, and versions of versions, and LOTS of flavour! I don’t make food without flavour!!!

So that was a view of the past couple of weeks, I hope you found it interesting. 

Enjoy your Friday and your weekend, and don’t forget to visit Fiesta Friday x