Chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons

Regular followers have probably noticed that I don’t cook much meat or poultry. In part, this is due to cost and environmental reasons.

But it’s also due to taste. I cook for leftovers, because I, like many of us, am too busy to cook multiple nights each week. And I often find meat leftovers…uninspiring. How do you reheat them without them drying out? (Does everyone know something about this that I don’t?) Plus, soups, grain salads, vegetarian stews, and so on all get better after a night in the fridge, rather than worse.

For me, the one exception to this rule is any meat or poultry that can be reheated in a sauce. The sauce helps keep the meat moist while it reheats.

That’s where this recipe comes in. Continue reading “Chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons”

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Moroccan-spiced roasted cauliflower and carrot salad with chickpeas and couscous

With about 95 percent accuracy, I can usually judge whether I will like a recipe from the ingredients list.

This was not one of those recipes.

I have been working my way through my most-used cookbook, Salad for Dinner, for years. And for years, I had skipped over this recipe. The ingredients sounded weird together. Would green olives really work with a dressing that was inflected with turmeric and cinnamon? Did cauliflower and carrots really need a starchy bed of couscous? Speaking of: was that really enough couscous for a couscous salad? And what about the chickpeas–where did they fit into this equation?

Continue reading “Moroccan-spiced roasted cauliflower and carrot salad with chickpeas and couscous”

Israeli couscous with preserved lemons, pistachios, and dried fruit

Though I grew up eating a lot of (delicious! Thanks, Mom!) meals that were protein + starch + vegetable, I don’t cook that way very often now. For one, I cook for leftovers, and I often find the texture of reheated meat unappealing. Two, I just so enjoy a heaping grain salad, a warm bowl of soup, or a big mess of curry or stew that a three-part meal never occurs to me. And three: cooking three things for one weeknight meal? Using three separate pots? That I then have to wash? Ugh.

As a result, I feel a bit out of my depth when I have to plan a meal that includes a separate meat, starch, and vegetable. The vegetable bit is okay. The meat, fine–I can do chicken under a brick or roast some lamb. But I find myself hitting a wall on the starch bit. Everything–roast potatoes, rice, and so on–just feels a bit, well, starchy and unexciting, like it’s just there in the name of “balance.”

Enter this couscous recipe. Continue reading “Israeli couscous with preserved lemons, pistachios, and dried fruit”

Zahav’s hummus

When I lived in Sydney, there was a Lebanese restaurant on my block that sold the smoothest, creamiest hummus. It was perfect. Yet it bothered me.

I couldn’t figure it out: why was their hummus so much better than mine? How did they get it so perfectly, pillowy smooth? When I added more liquid to mine, it got soggier. When I blended for longer–much longer, even–some graininess remained.

Then Deb said you had to peel the chickpeas. And so I did. I felt silly. (Who wouldn’t, peeling a pound of chickpeas one by one?) But more than that, it didn’t make sense. Surely the Lebanese restaurant down the road didn’t have an army of people peeling chickpeas in some back room–did it? Continue reading “Zahav’s hummus”

Shakshouka

Shakshouka: what is there not to love?

This egg-and-tomato dish nails the sweet spot between interesting (goodbye, bland weekend fry-ups; hello, cumin and za’atar) and quick (because one shouldn’t have to work too hard for the first meal of the day). It can be weekend brunch or weeknight dinner. It can be a survivor meal: so long as you have a can of tomatoes, eggs, an onion, cumin, and pepper flakes, you’re good to go. But you can also do it up: add red peppers, greens, cheese, and more spices. It bursts with umami, thanks to the tomatoes. It involves runny egg yolks—or not, if that’s not your thing. Its dregs beg to be sopped up with good bread or toasted pita. It can be scaled down to serve just one or up to serve a crowd.

Try this just once–and then watch it become part of your repertoire. Continue reading “Shakshouka”