Harira (lamb, chickpeas and spinach soup)

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Made this the other day for supper and it is absolutley incredible! I got the recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi. He says in the intro ‘This is a variation on the traditional Moroccan harira soup, flavoured in the same way but without the extra carbs that are often added in the form of rice or pasta. Traditionally a meal for breaking the Ramadan fast, this hearty dish is perfect on a cold winter’s evening.’

I cannot tell you how flavoursome this dish is. It is best made the day before in my opinion – the flavours just develop even more incredibly. Please make this as soon as you can. Please!

INGREDIENTS – 

3 tbsp olive oil   500g cooked chickpeas
1 large onion, cut into 1cm dice
200g lamb neck fillet, cut into 1cm dice
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp caster sugar
1kg tinned chopped tomatoes
1.2 litres chicken stock or water
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
a pinch of saffron strands
100g baby spinach
4 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
salt and black pepper

 METHOD

Add olive oil to a large pan on a medium heat. Add the onion and fry til soft and clear. Increase the heat – add the lamb. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it is sealed and taken on some colour. 

Add the tomato purée and sugar and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, drained chickpeas, stock and some salt and pepper.

Bring the soup to the boil. Reduce heat  and simmer. Cook for 35 – 50 minutes til lamb is tender.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the soup. Season with ground cumin, ginger and saffron. 

Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if you wish.

When ready to serve, bring back to the boil. Wash and cut roughly the spinach and coriander and add to the soup just before you bring it to the table. Serve with lots of good bread! 

Lamb escalopes with mushrooms and white wine – divine!

10

Scallopine d’agnello al funghi e vino blanco

I came across this slice of heaven in an Italian cook book and it quite rightly states that, although it only takes around 20 minutes from start to finish, guests will think it took ages. It is a really fine supper dish and needs little accompaniment other than a good dark green salad and hunks of crusty bread. My son was still talking about this dish 24 hours later – a very good sign – he loved it… and I have no doubt that you will too. It is a wonderful dish. And the mushrooms are central to this fabulous rich stock – we need to eat more of them! So good for you too! They are low in fat and calories with typically less than 0.5g fat and 15 calories (kcal) per 100g. They are a source of folic acid and niacin – great for a healthy nervous system. They are also a source of pantothenic acid for healthy mental performance. So if you want to keep your brain ticking over – eat more funghi!

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For 4

500 gm lamb fillet steaks

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves peeled & lightly crushed

A handful of fresh rosemary leaves chopped

300 gm of your mushroom of choice – wild would be good – I used forestiere – a new variety with a gorgeously nutty, buttery flavour.

Rock salt and black pepper

50 gm plain flour 

4 tbsp of white wine

200 ml of beef stock

15 gm of butter

Method

Pop the lamb steaks between layers of cling film and bash until they are flattened to about 2mm. Remove them gently, season both sides with the salt and pepper, then dust with the flour on both sides. Leave them to one side.

Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic and rosemary on it is hot. Fry for 30 seconds then add the mushrooms. Fry, stirring now and then, for a further 3 minutes.

Have a warm bowl handy and slide the mushroom mix into it and keep to one side. Wipe the frying pan and add 4 more tbsp of olive oil.

Once the oil has heated add the lamb steaks and fry over a medium heat for one minute per side. Pour in the wine and let it bubble for a minute, then add the mushroom mixture plus the stock. Stir gently around the steaks for 3 minutes. 

Now add the butter. Stir for about 30 seconds – the sauce will thicken and take on a wonderfully rich hue.

Pop each steak on a warmed plate  – then add a serving of the mushrooms and sauce to each. Stunning!