YUM. A colourful and spicy triumph. This whole dish was inspired by an experiment with preserved lemons (which I made ages ago) yet mysteriously had not been enlisted to bolster any recipes. They are my new favourite ingredient. I love Middle Eastern flavours. It may be my favourite kind of food (after Indian, obvs), and something I’d like to experiment with much, much more.
All of the elements of this dish worked together beautifully. The tofu was spicy and chewy, the couscous fluffy and savory, the avocado rich, and the tangy herbed yogurt tied it all together seamlessly.
This was also my first time making Harissa paste. It is a Tunesian hot pepper paste that is usually made with fresh hot red peppers. I didn’t have any of these on hand, so I substituted them for dried chili powder and smokey paprika. It was pretty easy and packed a huge punch of flavour. I can’t wait to try it out again (with fish, with chicken, with chickpeas, and and and…)
- 1/2 half teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3-4 cloves garlic (crushed or shredded)
- 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
I then coated the tofu cubes with the spice paste and let it sit for 1 hour (the longer the better). On an oiled baking sheet I baked the tofu with lemon slices at 350 for about 45 minutes. (I really like baked lemons, bothvisually and for a cleansing, sour finish to the meal!)
Meanwhile, I prepared the cous cous and yogurt.
Moroccan Spiced CousCous
- 1 medium sized onion, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- cherry tomatoes, halved
- red pepper, sliced
- 2 small dates, chopped (or substitute raisins or dried apricots)
- juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
- olive oil
- 3/4 tablespoon cured lemon rind (chopped finely)
- In a small pot, bring 3.5 cups of salted water to a boil (optional: use vegetable or chicken stock). Once boiling point is reached, add two cups of couscous and remove from heat. Add one tablespoon olive oil and cover tightly.
- Meanwhile, in small frying pan, fry onions until soft (about 6 minutes). Add spices (minus the parsley) and fry over medium heat until fragrant (about 2 minutes) mixing well. Add some coconut oil if the pan gets too dry. This should form a nice paste.
- Once couscous is ready (about 5 minutes) remove lid and fluff gently with a fork. Add to frying pan and mix wit onion and spice mixture. Add raw tomatoes, peppers, lemon juice, lemon rind, dates and parsley, taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Mix well.
This made for awesome leftovers.
“What is cured lemon rind?” I hear you wondering. It’s basically lemons pickled in their own juice with lots of salt and a few spices. You only use the rind for flavour, and a little bit goes a really long way to brighten up any dish. I was inspired by Chuck Hughes’ Food Network show Chuck’s Day Off, which I love. He put it on fish, and made it look so sexy (the fish I mean).
You should try it out!
- 4 lemons
- 1.5 cups course sea salt
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 4 kefir lime leaves
Cured things make me happy. Listen to this song while making these for a double whammy.
Now onto the easiest/yummiest concoction…
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or one clove fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilntro
- 1 teaspoon dried chives
- salt and pepper to taste
- pinch brown sugar, to taste
If you do nothing else, make sure you include this yogurt. It made the meal, in my opinion!
To serve, pile all elements haphazardly into one bowl. I served with a dollop of garlic hummus, avocado, sesame flat breads and fresh cilantro.
And that’s how we do March.