Thursday, 12 February 2015

Mental about Oriental!

Melanzane Arrostiti al Harissa & Couscous Ebraico
Harissa-Roasted Eggplant & Israeli Couscous


This evening, I was in the mood for a little more fire and spice in my supper- especially as I was planning on making something with eggplant, which can always do with some added flavor- and oh boy! Using Harissa was absolutely the right way to go about it!

This blend of roasted peppers, serrano pepper, chili paste, toasted cumin, coriander and garlic is a typical ingredient in Arabian cuisine, used all over the Orient- Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and wide beyond... and it's no wonder why, either! It is wonderful stuff!


Combined with a mild and refreshing Israeli couscous, flavored with lemon and mint, with a hint of spice and some celery, pine nuts and raisins- well- it was just a perfect mix! Balanced and delicious, light and healthy! As usual in my kitchen!


To make 2 nice portions, I needed 1 good sized eggplant, 2 cups of couscous, 1 stalk of celery, 1 shallot, 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon pine nuts, 1 tablespoon raisins, 1-2 tablespoons of harissa, 1 teaspoon of baharat, some fresh mint and parsley and a good olive oil,


I decided to use a little baharat to season my couscous with, but a simple paprika would be fine too- as would a little ras el hanout- or hey, even a hint of curry would do! As long as you have the mint and the lemon in there to make it nice and fresh-tasting and the pine nuts and raisins for depth of flavor, you will be fine! Improvise and innovate! I am just giving you a few hints- I want YOU to make your own supper!


This is another meal, where the magic comes from the balance of sweet and sour, hot and mild, soft and crunchy- but magical it is indeed! And so easy to make!


Cut the eggplant into nice thick slices and score them in turn in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife from either side. Sprinkle with salt and allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes whilst you prepare the harissa glaze and the couscous in the meantime.


Mix about a tablespoon of harissa with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt- stir it up with a fork or a whisk... and you're done!


Brush the eggplant slices with the marinade and set to one side whilst you heat up your oven to 200°C- 10 minutes should be enough to get both jobs done! Then bake for 15-20 minutes from each side- and in the meantime- again, keep busy! Start boiling your couscous and whilst it bubbles away for 10 minutes, make a start on all of those seasonings.

First, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan, then set them to one side, add a splash of olive oil to the pan and then fry the finely chopped shallot and diced celery for 5 minutes. Then, add the raisins and a little lemon zest, pop in the pine nuts and you are ready to turn that plain couscous into a lovely and tasty treat!


Stir in the couscous and add your hint of spice- as I already mentioned, it was baharat in my case, but paprika or something similar will be fine. Stir everything together whilst it is still warm, add a little olive oil, the juice of the other half lemon, pop on the lid and set to one side to continue getting even more fluffy and delicious.


Make sure to flip the eggplant over, to press it down a little - and to get it nice and toasty from each side... and once it is soft and toasty and delicious... of course it is also ready to serve!


Serve with a little more mint and parsley, a last squeeze of lemon juice and a modest, but smug look on your face. Or grin, even. You've just made a great dinner! You're allowed to!


So much great flavor, so easy and so good! So- what are you waiting for?!?!

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