Tag Archives: seasoning

Middle Eastern Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

4 Jun

Tabbouleh (or tabouli) is a Middle Eastern salad traditionally made with bulgur wheat, tomato and spring onion. Loads of finely chopped fresh parsley and mint are added then it is dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. It is so simple to make and has bags of flavour from the fresh herbs. The lemon juice lifts all the other flavours making it a refreshing, easy and delicious salad which can be served on its own,  as an accompaniment to grilled meat or fish or as part of a mezze.

This is one of my favourite lunch dishes. I vary the ingredients slightly every time according to what I have in the house. I’ve replaced the bulgur wheat with quinoa to keep it gluten-free but you could use couscous as well.

This time I added my Chermoula Seasoning and some harissa paste to the quinoa while it was cooking as well as throwing in some juicy raisins to plump up in the cooking liquid. Some flaked almonds on top give it some added texture but it is really all about the fresh herbs and lemon juice. Whatever you do don’t skimp on the herbs….

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Recipe

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 150 gr (1 cup) quinoa, rinsed in fine sieve
  • 450 ml (2 cups) veg stock
  • a handful of raisins
  • 1 tsp chermoula seasoning
  • 1 tsp harissa paste (optional) or a big pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 small red onion or 2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon peel (or the zest of 1/2 a lemon)
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • a large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • a handful of flaked almonds
  • salt & black pepper
  • small mint leaves for garnish

Put the rinsed quinoa, stock, raisins, chermoula seasoning, harissa paste, salt & pepper in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and you can see the curlicues in each grain. Leave to cool.

Stir through the chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumber and preserved lemon or zest. You can keep it in the fridge like this, in an airtight container until you are ready to serve it.

To serve, stir through the herbs, lemon juice and olive oil and taste for seasoning. Tip into a serving dish and top with some flaked almonds and extra mint leaves.

Enjoy!!

Things that made me smile today…..

Thistles…

Double Layer Hibiscus…

Tequila Sunrise anyone…?

Have a great weekend!!

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Creole Chickpea Fritters with Red and Green Pepper Salsa

27 May

At the restaurant we aways had some sort of fish cake on the menu and they were always best sellers. One of the most memorable ones for me were the Creole Crab Cakes that we served with a roasted red pepper mayo. There was something about the combination of Creole seasoning, fresh thyme and finely diced peppers that everyone loved.

Everyone except for Nik the Chef.  He hated making them. They were a bit (ok a lot) of a nightmare because the peppers would leak their liquid into the crab cakes and make them soggy so Nik had to spend hours finely dicing peppers and then meticulously drying them out on kitchen towel before combining them with the crab meat. He hated me for coming up with those crab cakes, but the customers loved them.

I was reminded of those crab cakes when I saw a recipe for chickpea fritters on A Little Bit Crunchy. Hers were Mexican in flavour but they had diced red pepper in them which is what caught my eye. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, after all I never ate a whole crab cake because I was vegetarian. I only ever tried a little bit to see if it tasted how I wanted it to.

So I made some Creole seasoning which I added to a jar of cooked chickpeas that I had blended to a puree. I added some fresh thyme and started to finely dice a red and green pepper, a spring onion, garlic & chilli. I stirred a few handfuls of the diced veg into the chickpea mix, but not too much, I didn’t want the mixture to be too wet.  I used the rest of the diced peppers etc to make a salsa to accompany the chickpea fritters by adding a chopped tomato, lemon juice & some Creole seasoning. I used chickpea flour to dust the fritters and then mould them into patties to keep it gluten-free but you can use flour and breadcrumbs if you like.

Creole Chickpea Fritters with Red & Green Pepper Salsa

makes 6-8 patties, vegan, gluten-free

For the Creole seasoning:

  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt

Put all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well to combine.

For the Chickpea Fritters:

  • 1 jar/tin 400 gr cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tbsp Creole seasoning (see above)
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely diced
  • 3 or 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 spring garlic or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • the juice of half  a lemon
  • 1 big tomato, finely diced
  • salt
  • chickpea flour/besan/gram flour for dusting
  • olive oil for frying

Put the rinsed, drained chickpeas in a bowl or processor and blend until smoothish. Mix the diced peppers, spring onions, garlic and chilli together in a bowl and add a couple of small handfuls to the chickpeas with a tablespoon of Creole seasoning and the thyme leaves. Stir everything together so well combined. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Tip some chickpea flour onto a plate and shape the mix into patties about 1/2 inch thick. Then dust the patties in the flour and put in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes. (No longer or the peppers will start to leak their juice and the patties will be too wet).

Meanwhile make the salsa by adding a finely diced tomato to the rest of the diced veg with a tablespoon of Creole seasoning and the juice of half a lemon. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.

To cook the fritters, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the fritters for 4-5 minutes per side until browned and crispy. Serve with the pepper salsa and a green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…

A Shetland pony and her new foal…

A white dolomite rock and delicate magenta flowers…..

Chermoula Halloumi, Butter Bean Tagine and Quinoa with Almonds and Raisins

25 Mar

This started out a s a recipe in the Terre a Terre vegetarian cookbook for Halloumi & Almond Kibbeh. Kibbeh are usually made with ground meat, spices and bulgur wheat shaped into balls or patties. The Terre a Terre version uses a mixture of ground almonds, halloumi, cream cheese, tofu and Chermoula spices to make the pattie mix which were then wrapped in thin aubergine slices and cooked.  Chermoula is a Moroccan/North African spice blend normally used as a rub or marinade for fish and meat.

This Chermoula spice mix (there are many variations) is made from toasted coriander, fennel and cumin seeds ground together and mixed with sumac (a dried, ground berry with a lemony, smokey flavour) and salt. You can use it dry for seasoning dishes or mix it with olive oil, lemon juice & garlic for a delicious marinade or dressing.  Okay, so I made the kibbeh without the tofu (I have a pathelogical dislike of tofu that I need to overcome). I really didn’t like the resulting texture I found them dry and quite heavy and after a lot of work too! Luckily I had made quite a lot of the bean tagine and quinoa so for lunch the next day I just pressed some sliced Halloumi into the Chermoula spices and dry fried them as I usually would for my favourite Halloumi recipe. So much easier! The Chermoula makes a perfect spice crust for my favourite salty, meaty cheese which could be served with the just the bean tagine or just the quinoa salad if you don’t want to make everything. The flavours are really complex and work fantastically together.

Another ingredient used in this dish is preserved lemons. Preserved lemons are a key ingredient in Moroccan cuisine. The preserved lemon peel is chopped and used to impart an intensely lemony flavours to soups, stews, tagines and many other dishes. The lemons are preserved in a mixture of lemon juice, salt and occasionally spices. I made my own because I had a mountain of lemons in my kitchen. It seemed like the perfect thing to do with them as I love all Middle Eastern cuisine. I used Spicie Foodie’s recipe which was really easy and now I am the very proud owner of a jar of  homemade preserved lemons. Who would have thought it?

At it’s narrowest point the southern coast of Spain is only about 8 miles from Morocco across the Atlantic. This means that it has a similar climate and a lot of the ingredients used are the same as in Andalucian cuisine. I was inspired to make this dish because a lot of the ingredients used I see growing while walking the dog. The almond blossom has now disappeared to reveal the young green nut and the oranges are still everywhere although coming to the end of their season.

 The quinoa salad could easily be made with bulgur wheat or couscous instead and feel free to substitute pistachios for almonds or olives for the raisins. Just use what you have, within reason, obviously. I’m not advocating the use of chocolate chips here but now that I’ve said it, it might make an interesting dessert…..

Chermoula Halloumi, Butter Bean Tagine & Quinoa with Almonds & Raisins

Serves 4 with leftovers, vegetarian. Adapted from Terre a Terre The Vegetarian Cookbook

For the Chermoula Halloumi

  • 2 packs Halloumi cheese, rinsed & sliced into 1/3 cm slices
  • 25 gr coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Toast all the seeds until fragrant and grind them in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder. Mix them with the sumac & salt and store in an airtight container. When ready to cook the halloumi, sprinkle about 4 tbsp of the spice mix onto a shallow dish and press your halloumi slices into it to coat on both sides. To cook the halloumi heat a non stick frying pan to hot without any oil and dry fry the slices for a minute or so on each side until lightly browned. Serve with the butter bean tagine and/or the quinoa salad.

For the Butter Bean Tagine

  • 1 jar/tin cooked butter beans 400 gr, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 or 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (or saffron)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 orange, zested then juiced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp preserved lemon peel, finely chopped (or use lemon zest)
  • 1 tin 400 gr chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste (or 1/4 tsp crushed dried chillis)
  • 100 ml veg stock
  • 1 tsp salt +
  • a handful of coriander leaves for garnish
  • olive oil to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large pan with a lid or casserole/tagine over a medium heat. Add the shallots, onion and red pepper and cook for about 3 minutes until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add in the cinnamon, ginger, turmeric/saffron, star anise and black pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.

Stir in all the remaining ingredients except the coriander & olive oil, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Either leave it to cook in a pan on the stove top or, if you are using a tagine or casserole, put on the lid and put it in a 170C oven for the same amount of time.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Remove the star anise and use it again for the quinoa. Stir in some of the fresh coriander ad serve garnished with the rest of the coriander leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Or serve topped with the Chermoula Halloumi slices.

For the Quinoa with Almonds & Raisins

  • about 150 gr quinoa (or bulgur or couscous)
  • about 750 ml veg stock
  • the star anise from the tagine above
  • 60 gr raisins or sultanas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 tbsp preserved lemon peel, finely chopped (or use lemon zest)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 80 gr toasted almonds (whole)
  • 50 gr toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tsp Chermoula spice mix (see recipe above)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  •  a handful of fresh parsley chopped
  •  a handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Cook the quinoa/bulgur/couscous according to the instructions on the packet. I use stock rather than water for more flavour. Put the raisins/sultanas in the hot stock as well to plump up aswell as the star anise. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add in the shallots and fry until soft and sweet, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the preserved lemon peel (or zest) and cinnamon, stir, then pour over the cooked quinoa, season with the chermoula spice mix, salt & pepper and mix well. This can now be refrigerated until 15 minutes before serving when you take it out to come up to room temperature.

Serve at room temperature. Shortly before serving stir through the nuts, chopped herbs, lemon juice and check the seasoning. Serve topped with the Chermoula halloumi or on the side off the ButterBean Tagine.

I had quite a lot of the quinoa leftover so I also made a nice salad  for lunch with some rocket leaves dressed with olive oil & lemon juice . I just topped it off with some crumbled feta. Delicious….

  Enjoy!!

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