Posts Tagged With: harrissa

Covid Cooking Week 2: The Bag O’ Carrots Edition

As mentioned in my last post, I got a bunch of vegetables for ridiculously cheap on my last grocery run. Which was excellent, but also left me with a bunch of vegetables that were nearer to their expiry point than I’d like. For reasons I’ve never quite figured out – it’s probably that the room is too warm, but the only cool dark place is the meter cupboard and they’d just get forgotten about there – carrots have a really short shelf life in my kitchen, so they were the priority.

First up I made a big pot of brown rice, carrot and cashew pilau. This has been a long-term favourite recipe of mine, since probably about the time I first moved up here – it’s one of the few recipes I have in my hand-written recipe book that doesn’t include the recipe’s providence so I can’t date it more exactly than that – and is a super straight-forward, but super satisfying meal. It’s also the reason I always have nigella seeds in the spice rack. I generally double the recipe so that it ‘serves four’ as the leftovers make a filling and easy dinner to take to work with me on backshifts. Especially if served with a generous handful of tortilla chips.

Next up, well I’d opened those tortillas anyway, and it was film club night so I needed some dip. I knew I had a couple of tins of chickpeas, a new jar of tahini in the cupboard and the end of a jar of harissa paste in the fridge so humus seemed a good plan. One of the recipe books that I have out of the library at the moment has a recipe for roasted carrot humus that I’ve made previously but found to be an awful faff, so I decided to just grate all the broken bits of carrots I had – it was a bag of ‘wonky’ carrots – and be a bit heavier handed with the cumin and harissa paste and see how that went. It turned out the humus could have stood a heavier hand with the harissa paste, but it works nicely with a little topping of pine nuts. I had the sense to decant it into small portion sized tubs immediately so I can always spice those up with extra harissa if I feel the need.

I finally managed to track down some Nori sheets at the health food store of all places – now that I know they’re still opening, they could be a good shout for getting lots of the more unusual ingredients I like in the coming months – which meant I could make veggie sushi again. To which end I made carrot batons of the remaining broken carrot bits and alternated carrot and cucumber maki. I ended up batoning far more carrots than I needed for sushi, but actually once they’re chopped and put in a handy tub somewhere obvious in the fridge they’re surprisingly versatile. Much like with bell peppers – half a pepper in a tub will go off before I remember to use it, but if I chop it up first it’ll get used up a handful at a time in pasta or noodles or omelette or as a side vegetable with something else without me really noticing – so it is with carrots. But then that sort of thing is at the heart of my food prep philosophy, making life easier for my future self, as an extra few minutes one day with save an exponentially great amount of time, energy and oft-times wasted food, later on.

I also needed to use up my 10p cauliflower, so I ended up making cauliflower and leek soup – generous seasoning with za’tar a must – and used up another couple of carrots – that I had admittedly put aside specifically for the purpose – in that while I was at it.

Which brings me pretty much up to date with my cupboard cooking adventures. This coming week I’m planning on making soda bread to go with the soup, Matar Paneer to use up those frozen peas that have been lurking, and some sweet potato and kale bubble and squeak, as my soup making revealed that I have plenty of both that could do with being used up.

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Cooking the Book – July Edition

So July turned out to be the first month this year that I didn’t actually cook anything out of my new recipe book. Actually, that’s not strictly true. I did in fact cook several things out of my new cookbook. They were just all things I had previously made for this challenge. Which actually makes it a bit less of a failure I think? Because it means that I’ve established new favourites. New recipes that I won’t just make once and forget about, but things that I enjoy and will cook regularly, meals that have worked their way into my regular repertoire of recipes. When I find myself with an excess of a particular vegetable, I think ‘ooh I could make x’ and x will be a recipe from my new cookbook. (For example, on Monday night, faced with a glut of spinach and a lack of inspiration for my dinner, I made a pot of Saag Aloo soup.) I’m trying things out in different combinations, finding what works and refining the recipes to my own tastes.

In finally got some harissa paste and spiced up my couscous, and let me tell you that was an excellent life choice. I sometimes find harissa paste to be somewhat overwhelming but in couscous it binds and lifts the dish without becoming overwhelming.

Harissa Couscous with Spinach & Feta

I mean, look at this loveliness, I just wilted some spinach and warmed up the feta cheese before I chucked it in and it just looks so fancy and tasty. To think that for years I thought couscous was rubbish because of terrible supermarket couscous salad tubs. Now I get to eat all sorts of lovely couscous based lunches just by making it myself.

Oh and there was that time that I made pasta bake with a sauce that was essentially broccoli and blue cheese soup without the potato, the most unctuous cheesy deliciousness was created.

Broccolli & Blue Cheese Pasta Bake

So I may not have achieved the targets I wanted to last month, I did have some arguably more lasting successes in embedding the recipes into my wider cooking repertoire.

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