I'm finding it a little hard to believe we are in 2011 already. It only feels like yesterday I was welcoming my first born into the world... and now she will be turning 5 this year!
People are forever going on about how fast kids grow up. I now understand what they were talking about. However, I do remember in those first few torturous months when sleep was but a distant memory, having thoughts of it lasting forever.There was definitely a
little bit lot of,
What have I signed myself up for? Am I ever going to sleep again. Or function normally for that matter?
And then bam, Ada's nearing 5 and Kye 3. We have adapted to the sleep deprivation and I now wear my black ringed eyes with pride. My babies are growing up... fast.
This coming year has got a few little and not so little treats in store for us (more on those in the coming weeks) but for now we are lapping up the sun (that finally reappeared), paddle boarding lots, and eating loads of simple, fresh summer food. Yep, summer is here. Nau mai, haere mai 2011.
This persian-style pilaf is my version of a harissa chicken rice salad featured in the latest issue of Cuisine magazine. It's simple, full of flavour and would be just perfect to take to a summer barbecue. The recipe gets you to make your own harissa paste. Dead simple, but if you are short on time, a good store-brought harissa could be used in place. The flavours will be slightly different from mine here, but I'd bet they will still be good.
I had a pot of cooked chickpeas that I was using to make hummus, so I just nicked a cup full of those to add. You can use soaked, cooked chickpeas too, or save on time by using a tin of chickpeas. Rinsed and drained well.
I found as I ate the leftovers straight from the fridge the next day, that it keeps well. I just added a little more fresh herbs and dressing to freshen things up a little.
With that in mind, if you were wanting to plan ahead this could be made a day in advance, to the end of the rice cooking stage. Cool and store. Then to serve, bring back to room temperature, toss through the almonds, herbs and dressing. Too easy.
I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season (in the sun and the snow!). I have a feeling 2011 is going to be a good one, don't you agree? Xx -emm
persian-style pilaf with chickpeas, mint & harissa recipe
This pilaf can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. A little crumbling of feta on top would be lovely if you eat dairy. The harissa recipe below makes way more than you will need, about a cup in total. You can store the remaining harissa in the fridge, covered with a thin film of olive oil for 5-7 days. Use it to flavour quinoa, smear on tofu and grill or add to anything that needs a little extra flavour boost. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small pan over medium heat, until fragrant, then grind in a mortar and pestle. I'm sure you could get away with using 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon if you don't have sticks. Serves 3-4.
- 1 red capsicum
- 1/2 red onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted then ground
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted then ground
- 2 large red chillies (or 1 tsp chilli powder), finely chopped seeds and all
- juice of 2 lemons
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Roast the capsicum in a preheated oven at 220 C/425 F or over a gas flame until the skin starts to blacken, approx 10 minutes, turning once during cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside with a tea towel draped over. When cool, peel off the skin and remove seeds. Place the roasted capsicum into a food processor with the onion, garlic, spices and chilli. Pulse until smooth, then add the lemon juice. Drizzle in a little olive oil with the motor running until a paste forms. Season with salt and pepper. If you are making ahead of time, spoon into a jar and cover with a thin film of olive oil. Store in the fridge until needed.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 cup (180g) basmati rice, rinsed under cold water and drained well
- 1 3/4 cups (435ml) water
- 1/4 cup (40g) currants (raisins or sultanas can be used also)
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- the juice of 1-2 lemons
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (or use a 390g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained well)
- 3/4 cup (70g) slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup loosely packed torn mint leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 Tablespoons of harissa paste (see above or use store-brought)
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onions until golden and soft. Add the ginger and allspice. Cook for a further 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to coat in the onion mixture. Reduce the heat to low, add the currants, water and cinnamon stick. Cover with a lid and cook slowly for 20-25mins until rice is cooked.
Mix harissa paste with the juice of 1/2-1 lemon and the extra virgin olive oil. Spoon pilaf into a serving bowl and drizzle with harissa dressing, scatter with extra herbs and enjoy!