Things are starting to flow out of the kitchen again, though it’ll be another couple of weeks before we totally get back into the swing of it I think. We’re starting to get some more of that changeable autumn weather, the nights are getting quite cool, and we’ve even had some relatively chilly days.
This means that we’re starting to hanker after warmer, heartier meals.
Tunisian Spinach Rice & Vegetable Couscous
I was really feeling the need for a big hit of vegetables after relying heavily on convenience foods. So the first dish I made was a version of Tunisian Spinach rice. Loaded with greens, vegies and chickpeas, this steamed rice dish was just the kind of thing I felt like, which was lucky, since it made quite a lot. My pot steamer, the only thing that was big enough to hold it, has rather large holes, not suitable for small grains of rice, so I lined it with a large piece of muslin to keep everything from falling through.
Not happy with just one dish, I also made a Tunisian Vegetable Couscous. With different mix of vegetables to the rice, plus a combination of cooked and raw, we were definitely getting that big vegie hit I was after. Flavoured with vinegar and mint, this dish has a bite but is also refreshing. It’s lovely warm or at room temperature, which makes the leftovers great to take to work for lunch. Adding a handful of chopped leafy greens is a lovely addition to this already colourful and nutritious dish. Lentils, beans or chickpeas would also go really well in this, and I would’ve added some but we didn’t have any left at the time, except dried beans and chickpeas which would’ve taken too long to prepare.
Egyptian Lentil Kofta & Dukkah Roast Vegetables
Dukkah is a traditional Egyptian spice mix, that’s really easy to make, and you can use any combination of nuts, seeds and spice that you prefer. Mostly we see it here served with bread and oil, but it’s actually used like we use salt and pepper, and is a great topping for salad. The first thing I decided to use it in was a roast vegetable dish. The vegies were chopped, tossed in oil, then coated in dukkah and roasted. Yum!
To go with this I decided to make a lentil version of Egyptian Kofta. The plan was then to have the kofta with vegies and salad in a wrap with coconut yoghurt (plus cucumber and mint). Kind of like an Egyptian soft tortilla. The lentil mix was quite soft, and not being a huge fan of deep-frying plus being worried they’d fall apart, I baked the kofta balls instead. Luckily they were good, since it did make quite a few. Not that it mattered; they worked well as patties for a burger and with salad to take to work. Steve used the last of them in a dish he made a couple of days later.
Libyan Pumpkin Pasta
I still had a decent sized piece of pumpkin to use, and was feeling like pasta. I was a little surprised to find that there is a traditional Libyan pasta dish that uses pumpkin. It also contains meat, but of course my version of it doesn’t. Potato, pumpkin and chickpeas are the vegetable component, with a mix of spices and dates it’s an unusual flavour combination, but it really works. Served with a fresh crunchy salad it was really satisfying.
Tahini Sauce & Egyptian Hommus
I wanted to make a dressing to have with salad and tahini is a very popular ingredient in many North African countries, plus we love it. I looked at various recipes for tahini sauces and came up with one that uses lots of lemon plus mint and sumac. So simple to throw together, and delicious. It’s best to make it a while before you want it and put in the fridge so it can thicken up again. I used it to top salad and lentil kofta balls in a wrap.
The only thing that would’ve made it better was having some hommus as well. So I rectified that by making some Egyptian style hommus. Hommus makes a great topping for a huge array of things, and it’s never going to go to waste. There are endless variations of hommus now, but sometimes it’s nice to go back to a simple traditional version. Still warm from blending it was delicious. The next day with lightly toasted pita bread and topped with olive oil and dukkah it was hard to stop eating.
Tunisian Vegetable Stew
It was one of our recent chilly days, so some comfort food was in order. What better that a hearty stew with couscous and spicy mashed potato. Cabbage, mushrooms and chickpeas make this stew healthy and filling. You could have it with any grain you like really. I tossed up between rice and couscous, but couscous won mostly due to it being so quick and easy to make.
As we head into the last weekend of April, it’ll be a quiet one in the kitchen since we’ve decided to give ourselves the weekend off – that means no housework (I’ve already done it) or household chores and no cooking, or almost no cooking. I might make some toast. We’re going to treat ourselves to some restaurant food, plus trips to the markets, beach and anywhere else that takes our fancy.
I have started typing up the recipes from this post, but they won’t get added until next week or maybe the week after. I’m heading south for a family gathering next weekend, so it’ll be a busy week getting everything done before then.