Monday, 25 May 2015

Arabian Nights!

Carciofo Arabico, Ripieno di Couscous & Cotto nella Tagine
Arabian Stuffed Artichoke, with Couscous, Barberries & Ras el Hanout, from the Tajine


Supper time came around and I suddenly remembered that I had that lovely, big artichoke in the fridge, that had been waiting patiently since I brought it back home with me from the market hall on Saturday... And I hate for my food to be lonely, so I decided to introduce it to some other friends of mine... Couscous and barberries...

It was a crazy idea... But with plenty of herbs and spices to help them along... They soon became the best of friends! They became a great dish for me to enjoy... And to share with you, right here and right now!


You can impress someone with a beautiful bouquet of flowers on a date... Or you can just offer them ONE, big beautiful flower... And I am pretty sure which one would be swooned over more!

Roses are red and violets are blue- but when you're feeling hungry, only an artichoke will do!

One large artichoke, 4-5 tablespoons of couscous, 1 small onion, 2 tablespoons of barberries, 1 tablespoon of Ras el Hanout powder, 1 lemon, plenty of mint and parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil are what you are going to need to make this magical dish. As well as about an hours of your time... And ideally, a tajine to cook it in!


Of course you can make this in a regular saucepan, but I have a tajine and I am not afraid to use it! lol! Especially when it comes to steaming food, it is one of my favorite utensils... And it just seemed so fitting to use it to make this dish, with the oriental spice, couscous and barberries!

This is based on Italian stuffed artichokes of course, which are usually stuffed with bread crumbs... only I decided to see how it work using couscous as a stuffing instead... And as you can see in this picture... The result was pretty good!


Top, tail, trim and prepare the artichoke in the usual manner, removing the outer, lower leaves and trimming the others down with some kitchen scissors.

Loosen the leaves and open the artichoke up to reveal the inner, leaves, which although softer, do also have spiny ends, which I also snipped away with kitchen scissors. And then of course, there is plenty of "choke" in there that needs removing and I did that with a melon scooper. Once that was done, I rinsed it under the tap, rubbed it with lemon and set it to one side to prepare the filling.

Please forgive me for having somehow misplaced the photo of the preparation of the filling, but basically it consisted of the zest of half a lemon, finely chopped, along with the onion, mint and parsley, also finely chopped. These were added to the couscous, seasoned with salt and pepper and stirred together. Very, very easy indeed!


Loosen the leaves a little and simply spoon in the filling, from the outside- in. Once the artichoke is filled, squeeze with the juice of the lemon and drizzle generously with olive oil.

Pop the stuffed artichoke into your tajine or saucepan, add a few slices of lemon and add boiling water until it is half submerged. Bring to a gently rolling boil and then pop on the lid... And do not disturb for the next 45 minutes! Better still, if you can stand to wait, for an hour.


See how the water has all evaporated and how the couscous has more than doubled in size? That's the beauty of the tagine... It keeps all of that heat, steam and of course the aroma, trapped tightly inside- which means that you better be ready for that great aroma when you take off the lid!

Yes, I know that you know that I love artichokes... But my mission is to get everyone eating them too! Do you think this picture could help me to win people over with?!?!


After an hour of steaming, the leaves will be juicy and tender and coated with a lovely coating of spicy couscous! Yes, you may need finger bowl and yes, you will need another dish to discard the remains of the eaten leaves... But it is so much fun to eat and the aromatic couscous is so satisfying, those really are just minor details!

Rich with tangy, mildly spicy and fluffy couscous, this is an artichoke dish that will really satisfy in every way!


This is my idea of how cool finger food should look! And also of how it should taste as well! 

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