Sunday, February 26, 2012

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables and Saffron Quinoa

I received a pretty awesome vegetarian cookbook for Christmas and this is one of the dishes I've made from it thus far. The book is called Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. It's a beautiful book with lots of unique vegetarian recipes. It's great because many of the recipes in the book use ingredients and flavor combinations that are very new to me. I like the idea of cooking outside of my comfort zone.

This was one of those unique recipes. I was turned on to it at work actually, where a lovely co-worker of mine made this dish (she got the cookbook for Christmas, too) for one of the vegan entrees for the day. I tasted a bit and liked the flavor combination, so I figured I'd try to make it at home. So I bought a jar of organic preserved lemons (they weren't cheap!) and organic harissa paste and got to cooking this warming winter dish.

Yes, the ingredient list is quite long. And the preserved lemons and harissa are a bit expensive. But honestly, the recipe is just as good without the preserved lemons and you can totally add some more crushed red pepper flakes in place of the harissa. And I highly recommend you to pick up a copy of Plenty if you're a vegetarian foodie, like me. I'm sure you'll see a few more of the recipes from the cookbook posted here on the blog in the future.

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables and Saffron Quinoa (adapted from 'The Ultimate Winter Couscous' in Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1 small onion, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
3 bay leaves
4 tbs olive oil
sea salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp chili flakes
2 1/2 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash
1/2 cup dried apricots (organic and unsulphered if possible)
1 cup chickpeas
1 1/2 cups chickpea cooking liquid or water
1 cup quinoa
large pich saffron
2 tbs harissa
1 oz preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 cups cilantro leaves

1. Preheat oven to 375.  Place carrots, parsnips, and onion in an oven proof dish (I used a 13"x9" glass rimmed baking pan). Add cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, 4 tablespoons of oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and all the other spices and mix well. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.

2. Add the pumpkin to the pan, stir, and return to oven. Continue cooking about 35 minutes. Then, add the dried apricots and chickpeas with their cooking liquid or water. Return to oven and cook for a further 10 minutes.

3. While the vegetables are cooking, add the quinoa and 2 cups of water plus saffron to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce heat to a very low simmer. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. Once the quinoa is cooked, keep somewhere warm until ready to serve.

4. To serve, spoon quinoa into a deep plate or bowl. Stir the harissa and preserved lemon into the vegetables; taste and add salt if needed. Spoon the vegetables over the center of the quinoa. Finish with plenty of cilantro leaves.

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