EPC and I had been looking for a Moroccan cookbook for ages. It seems that the majority of them place little focus on vegetarian options and lay heavy on the lamb. I guess this make sense, but we were hopeful that something out of the ordinary would present itself.
One Saturday afternoon last month, as we were drooling over the Emile Henry Tagines on display at our neighbourhood kitchen supply store, my husband noticed a copy of Ghillie Basan’s Tagines and Couscous rounding out the display of crockery. We flipped through it and in comparison to the other options we had, this cookbook had a fair selection of delicious-looking vegetarian tagines (8), couscous (3 out of 5 recipes), and side dishes (11). We jumped at the chance and purchased it on the spot.
Tonight was the first chance I had to delve into the cookbook and I settled on two salad dishes, one with chickpeas and the other, the star of the show, a delicious roasted eggplant and tomato salad.
Sure, roasting (and then peeling) eggplant and tomatoes is kind of a pain, but if you do it early in the afternoon and leave it on the counter to cool, the salad is ready in no time. We served it with some whole wheat pita bread left over from New Year’s Eve, but serving it with the recommended crusty bread would be even better. There is something about sopping up savoury dish with a thick hunk of bread that a triangle of pita bread just can’t compete with.
Moroccan Spicy Eggplant and Tomato Salad
2 large eggplants
4 large tomatoes
1/2 cup of olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of harissa paste*
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground (I used a motar and pestle)
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Put the eggplants on a baking sheet
- Put the whole tomatoes in a casserole dish and cover with 1/4 of olive oil
- Bake both for 30 minutes and then cool on the counter
- When then have cooled (about 45 minutes), halve the eggplant and scoop out the inside and discard the skin. Chop the eggplant into a pulp.
- Peel the tomatoes, discard the seeds and chop into a pulp
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron pan and saute the garlic until it begins to turn colour.
- Add the tomatoes and harissa and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add the eggplant, cilantro and parsley and cook for about 5 minutes until the eggplant is heated through.
- Add the lemon juice, cumin seeds, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with the remaining olive oil drizzled on top and don’t forget the bread!
* You can pick harissa up at a speciality store or follow Ghillie Basan’s simple recipe:
8 dried chilies, seeded and then soaked in warm water for 1 hour
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, ground
4 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Drain the chilies and combine in a food processor with garlic and salt until a thick paste. Mine never got to a thick paste, but c’est la vie.
- Add the cumin, coriander, and olive oil and blend well.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 1 month
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The weekend is coming to a close and, although the weather was downright nasty for August (with the daily highs just above +10°C), when I look back over the last two days I can conclude that it was one of the best weekends of the past month.
You can’t beat brunch at Culina Highlands with friends Saturday morning (even though their vegan option was far too salty), freezing to death at the downtown farmer’s market (and lugging home beets, banana potatoes, carrots, corn, Macintosh apples and Concord grapes), freezing to death again at our yearly condo BBQ, making fantastic blueberry lemon jam, taking a walk to Paddy’s Cheese and putting together a delicious Sunday night supper!
Yes, all in all, it was a great two days!
I decided to cook up all the beets I picked up on Saturday and make Beet Burgers from Toni Fiore’s Totally Vegetarian plus a Beet Salad with Herbs from Habeeb Salloum’s Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middles East and North Africa.
The Beet Burgers were delicious. I will certainly make these again. However, it make take a while. Toni’s cookbook features two more tasty looking burger recipes that I need to try first. Her burgers held together while cooking and didn’t fall apart after the first bite; I lost a few pieces of my burger as I munched away, but for the most part this burger held its own – without the addition of eggs! As well as being found in her cookbook, the recipe is also on the Delicious TV website (Toni Fiore is the host). I figured that I would take peak to see if it was online to save me from typing it out 🙂 (FYI:I did not add the pumpkin seeds and I substituted 7 fresh basil leaves for the beet greens).
Delicious as they are, this certainly is not a weeknight meal, but you can easily make them up on a weekend afternoon and freeze them uncooked for another day (I did that with the 2 of the burgers). EPC can always eat two burgers and, of course, I packed my second burger for tomorrow’s lunch.
The Beet Salad was just as tasty. I have contemplated picking up Habeeb Salloum’s cookbook for the past year, so I finally signed it out from the library to give it a try. I have a made a few recipes and enjoyed them all. There are a few more that I am looking forward to trying. After tasting a few selections, EPC declared that we have to get this cookbook and I would have to agree.
Anyway, I hope your weekend was as good as mine, but if not, don’t worry we have a 3-day weekend coming up!
Posted in burger/sandwich/burrito, entrées, salad, vegan
Tagged Beet Burgers, Beet Salad, beets, Habeeb Salloum, Toni Fiore, vegan, vegetarian, vegetarian burgers
After having jicama at a friend’s house last weekend, I thought I should make something with this seldom used (at least in my house) root vegetable. I found a recipe for Jicama Slaw in my latest library acquisition: The Real Food Daily Cookbook by Ann Gentry. She also has a recipe for Carrot Salsa that I adapted for tonight’s dinner. I figured it would be a pleasant departure from tomato salsa.
I’ll get straight to the point, the tostados were fantastic. In fact, when EPC saw me putting them together he remarked that he could already tell that dinner was going to be amazing.
It was amazing: a crisp oven baked corn tortilla, topped with black beans, crumbled feta cheese, jicama slaw, carrot salsa, and a dollop of guacamole. All the flavours and textures worked really well together, plus it was a fun casual dinner – perfect for a Friday night.
The only thing that went wrong (other than forgetting to make the guacamole until the last minute) was that all 6 limes I bought produced a few meager tablespoons of juice between them. Certainly, not enough to add the amount of tang needed. In the recipes below I have suggest 3 tablespoons, but feel free to add more if you like. Anyway, lesson learned. I picked up a bottle of Real Lime this weekend in case I need saving in the future.
Kelley’s Black Beans
1 19 oz can of black beans, undrained
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 roma tomato, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Cayenne pepper, crushed red chilies, or a jalapeno to taste(I did not add any heat this time)
- Saute the onion and garlic for about 5-7 minutes until soft (add jalapeno now, if using).
- Add the seasoning and stir to coat.
- Add black beans and their liquid and the tomatoes. Increase heat until beans are bubbling.
- Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
- For tostados, remove from heat and let cool before assembling.
2 cups approximately 4-5 medium carrots, coarsely grated
1/4 cup of cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup of red onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of lime juice, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon of salt
- Put the carrots in a bowl and mix with cilantro, onion, lime juice and salt.
- Let sit 20 minutes
2 cups of jicama, peeled and coarsely grated.
3/4 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons of lime juice, or more to taste
- Squeeze the grated jicama to reduce its water content so it can absorb the lime juice (you will be surprised by how much water is in this vegetable!)
- In a bowl combine the lime zest, lemon zest, lime juice and salt, and mix well.
- Add the jicama and stir together
- Let sit 20 minutes before serving
Oven Baked Tortillas
8 6-inch corn tortillas
- Preheat oven to 350°C
- You will need to do this in batches or use two cookie sheets.
- Spray both sides of 4 corn tortillas lightly with oil, lay on a cookie sheet. It is ok if they overlap.
- Bake for 5 minutes and turn. Bake another 3 minutes, or until crispy.
- Let cool before topping
- Top cooled oven baked tortilla with a couple of spoonfuls of warm black beans.
- Follow with crumbled feta cheese, a couple of spoonfuls of the jicama slaw and carrot salsa.
- Finish with a dollop of guacamole.
- Serve 3-4 tostados per person
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