Ok, so yes, I know you are thinking – why is this girl calling herself fungi foodie when all she cooks is middle eastern food? Well guess what everybody – it’s been raining! A lot! In Berkeley! So I’m going to go mushroom hunting this weekend :) So with any luck I will have a delicious wild mushroom recipe for next week! Yay for wild mushrooms :)
But in the meanwhile, I’m continuing on my theme of cooking healthy, delicious vegetarian recipes from Jerusalem and Plenty. This week, I cooked the chickpea saute with Greek yogurt from pg. 211 Plenty and featured online here and the couscous with tomato and onion from pg 129 of Jerusalem and featured online here.
These dishes were on the less complicated side for Yotam Ottolenghi and my trip to Berkeley Bowl for groceries was one of the easiest and shortest trips yet! Either I’m getting much better at this whole grocery shopping thing or I am indeed choosing simpler recipes :P Here are all of the lovely fresh ingredients for the chickpea saute – look at all those fresh herbs and veggies! I really need to consider getting some potted herbs!
The first step is to separate the green part from the stalks of the chards – I’m totally falling for this stuff! It’s so pretty!
So you blanch the chard stalks for 3 minutes in boiling water, then add the greens and blanch them for 2 more minutes, then remove from boiling water, rinse in cold water, and drain. Then you heat up 1/3 cup olive oil in a pan – Dan was appalled at this amount of oil – but I reminded him that olive oil is good for you :) He remained unconvinced but I decided to stick to Ottolenghi’s guidelines despite Dan’s rumblings. So you peel and chop up the carrots and saute them in the olive oil, then add caraway seeds. I’d never used caraway seeds before cooking from these books but they are such a good spice! I bought them super cheap from the bulk spice section at Berkeley Bowl and I’m totally hooked.
So after the carrots are cooked, add the blanched chard back in, add in the chick peas (yes I used canned – perhaps a faux pas but after the disaster of trying to cook fava beans from scratch, I’m sticking to canned. It’s just so much easier!), add in garlic and fresh mint and parsley.
Look at this ginormous bowl of vegetables!
But the finishing touch that really completes the dish is adding the Greek yogurt sauce on top. It just makes it so much tastier! And it adds a ton of calcium and protein – win-win :)
So to accompany the delicious and healthy chickpea saute we made some couscous with tomatoes and onions. The first step is to dice and sautee an onion, then add sugar and tomato puree. Then dice two tomatoes (I added 3 because I love tomatoes!) and add them to the pan.
In the meanwhile, add boiling vegetable stock to some couscous and leave it to sit in a bowl covered in cling wrap for 10 minutes. Once the couscous is cooked, then you mix in the tomato and onion mixture and wipe off the pan and add some butter to it. The next part gets a little bit complicated…at least for a novice like me….making the couscous crispy was no easy task! You are supposed to add butter then put the couscous back in the pan and cover it and let it steam for 12 minutes. Well, I did this and it was not quite crispy. Probably I should have let it steam for longer but we were hungry so I decided to just go for it…What followed was an EPIC FAIL where I flipped the couscous onto a dish and some of it landed on the floor but luckily most of it made it to the dish! I think I need to buy bigger dishes….
Ottolenghi has an amazing way with making vegetarian dishes that are completely satisfying and don’t make you miss meat one bit. These dishes are healthy, relatively cheap and easy, and super flavorful and fulfilling. The only complicated step that I utterly failed at was getting the couscous crispy and then flipping it over “expertly” onto a dish – so I did not manage to get that beautiful crispy crust that they claimed makes this dish. I still think it tasted amazing, but I think I will have to practice some more with the crisping and flipping..Here is my couscous with a corner of it looking crispy…it still tasted really good without the crispy crust but I will definitely need to practice with this one..
Here is my completed meal :) It was a totally satisfying, healthy, flavorful, and fulfilling vegetarian middle eastern inspired meal. Thanks Ottolenghi for two more great dishes :)