Spiced Chickpea and Spelt Couscous Salad

This is a simple yet very flavourful salad. It can be served as a substantial vegan meal or as a side dish in smaller portions. It also makes a lovely potluck dish. I make this with fresh colourful cherry tomatoes and aromatic herbs from the farmers’ market while still in season.

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Ingredients

For the Couscous:

  • 1 Cup Spelt Couscous
  • 1 1/2 Cup Water
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Coriander Seed
  • 1/2  Tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Salt

Rest of Salad:

  • 1  1/2 Cup Cooked Chickpeas
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Mint (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 Cup Almond Flakes
  • 1 Clove of Garlic (Crushed ; optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1-2 Limes (to taste)
  • more salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method
1. Add the couscous and water to a small saucepan and bring into a boil over high heat and let it boil for a couple of minutes.
2. After 2-3 minutes, turn down the heat and add all the spices, salt and 2 Tbsp of EVOO to the pot and stir well. Now turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid and let the couscous absorb all the water and flavours.
3. Add all the other salad ingredients except for the almond flakes into a large bowl and mix.
4. Once the couscous is soft (about 5-10 minutes), fluff it with a fork and add it to the salad ingredients while it’s still hot. Toss everything together until thoroughly mixed.
5. Add the almond flakes and more salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve this salad when it’s warm but I’d prefer to let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or even better overnight, so that all the flavours come together, then let the salad come into room temperature before serving.

 

Banana Berry Baked Oatmeal Cups

These healthy baked oatmeal cups are my go-to workday breakfast. I usually bake a batch (12 cups) on weekends, freeze the cooled cups on a tray in a single layer, and store them in  a large freezer bag. Then on week days before I go to bed I take 4 cups ( 2 per person) out of the freezer and let them thaw overnight in the fridge. In the morning I warm up the cups in 250F oven for 20 minutes, by the time we are done with our morning routines our breakfast is ready! 😀  I usually serve these cups with a small portion of cheese and some fresh fruit.

Ingredients

Dry
1 1/2  Cup Quick Oats (Certified Gluten Free if you needed)
1 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats (Certified Gluten Free if you needed)
1/2 Almond Flour
1-2 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Baking Powder

Wet
1 1/2 Cup Milk (I use Sheep Milk, you can also use rice/almond or coconut milk for dairy free option)
1 Large Very Ripe Banana (mashed)
1 Large Egg (lightly beaten)
3 Tbsp. Coconut oil (melted)
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

Add-in
1 Cup Mixed Berries (I usually use a mix of wild-blueberry and raspberry)
Note: If you use frozen berries like me, let the berries thaw for an hour before you start.

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with unbleached paper liners.
2. Whisk all the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.
3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a separate mixing bowl.
4. Add the “dry” mix to the “wet” and mix until everything is well combined.
5. Fold in the berries and mix well.
6. Let the oatmeal mixture sit for half an hour to let the oatmeal soak some of the moisture.
7. Fill the lined muffin cups using an ice-cream scoop.
8. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Take out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy 🙂

Makes a dozen oatmeal cups.

Almond and Barberry Stew (khoresht-e-khalal-badam) (خورشت خلال بادام)

The first time I tried this dish at a restaurant I fell in love with the complex flavours and textures and was set to cook it at home. This stew is a traditional dish from “Kermanshah” province located in the mid-western part of Iran. The traditional recipe uses black barberries (zereshk) which is common in that region and are smaller and slightly more sour than red barberries. But since it’s not easy to find black barberries here I substituted red barberries instead.

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Ingredients
2 pounds lean lamb or beef cut into 1 inch cubes (I use grass-fed leg of lamb)
1 large onion (finely diced)
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried barberries (picked over and rinsed)
4 limoo-amani (Iranian dried limes)
3 Tbsp. tomato paste (I used home-made tomato paste)
1 Tsp. turmeric
10 cm piece of cinnamon stick
1/2 Tsp. crushed saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup of of hot water
2 tablespoons rose-water
3 Tbsp. ghee
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups bone broth (optional)
Boiling water

Method

  1. Add the almond slivers to a bowl and combine with 1 Tbsp of saffron-water and the rose-water. Mix and set aside.
  2. Add a tablespoon of ghee to a small frying pan, add the washed and drained barberries and gently fry the barberries on low heat for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn the barberries, you just want to intensify their red colour. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a large pot, saute the onion over medium-high heat until golden. Then add the turmeric, salt and pepper and stir well and fry for another couple of minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Once the meat is browned,  add the tomato paste, stir well and cook for another couple of minutes.
  5. Now add the cinnamon stick, dried limes and bone broth (if using) to the pot and add enough boiling water to cover the meat (don’t add too much liquid, you just want to cover the meat).
  6. Cover the pot and gently simmer the meat for at least one hour (I use grass-fed meat which needs more time to become tender) on low heat.
  7. Once the meat is almost tender, add the almond sliver mixture, mix well. Add more boiling water if needed, cover and cook for another hour.
  8. Add barberries and the rest of saffron water, stir well, taste and adjust the seasoning. Cook for another 20-30 minutes until meat is tender and the flavors are well blended.

Serve hot with Basmati rice and some yogurt. Enjoy! 🙂

Serves 6-10 (depending on portion size).

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