Food: Whole roasted Levantine spiced rutabaga

Inspired by perusing the NOPI cookbook by Ramael Scully and Yotam Ottolenghi, I came across their recipe for ‘whole roasted celeriac’. This is my interpretation of that kind of dish using a rutabaga.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 peeled rutabaga (Swede, Swedish turnip)
  • 2tbs gram flour, sifted
  • 1tsp sumac
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs Lakrids salted liquorice syrup, liquorice powder will also work
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Splash of rosewater
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salt & Pepper

 

For the pistachio pickled apricots:

  • 5 apricots, halved
  • 1tbs Maille white balsamic vinegar with pistachio nut flavour
  • 1tbs cider vinegar
  • Splash of water

 

Start by placing a baking dish with a layer of flavourless oil into the oven at its hottest setting. Then, boil the rutabaga for 15 minutes in a big pan of salted water.  Whilst it’s boiling you can start making the spice crust. In a bowl combine all the ingredients until they make a sticky, aromatic paste. When the rutabaga is sufficiently boiled, take it out and pat it dry with some kitchen towel/tea towel. Now cover the vegetable in the spicy mixture. Take the baking tray out of the oven and place the covered root vegetable in the oil, so it starts sizzling. Be careful the oil doesn’t spit onto you!

Place back in the oven and turn the heat down to 180°C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes, taking it out at regular intervals to turn the rutabaga. Once it’s had its 40 minutes, take out and place a skewer through the middle, If it goes in without much resistance, then you know it’s done, if not, place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

If you’re going to make the pickled apricots, I’d do them the night before, so they have time to soak up the pickle. Simply fill up a small dish with the vinegars, place the apricot halves in and top up with a splash of water.

I’d recommend serving this with a great big bowl of fluffy couscous, the pickled apricot halves, tomato wedges and chopped coriander & walnuts.

 

Enjoy!

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Food: Slow baked lemon & garlic aubergine with a tahini dressing

This is a straight forward recipe for a Levantine inspired aubergine dish with the flavours of Tahini, garlic, lemon, mint and coriander. Serves 2.

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium aubergine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • Zest & juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbs garlic infused oil
  • 2 tsp Sumac
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • Salt & pepper

For the Tahini dressing:

  • 2 tbs tahini
  • zest & juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbs sunflower oil
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • Handful of fresh coriander & mint, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp agave

Begin by chopping the aubergine in half. Place in a dish and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 30 minutes until juice starts coming out of the vegetable. This draws out all the bitterness. Wipe away the salt with a damp piece of tissue and place the aubergine halves in a baking dish. Drizzle with oil and spread the grated garlic and lemon zest onto the flesh of the aubergine, along with the dried herbs and the sumac. Squeeze the lemon juice all over, cover with foil and pop into a preheated oven at 140°C. This needs to be cooked low and slow, so put it in for 1 hour 40 minutes.

While it’s baking you can chill, read a bit, do what ever you want.

Or you could also use this time to make the tahini dressing! Simply spoon 2tbs of tahini into a bowl and add the zest & juice of the other lemon halve. Add in the garlic, agave for sweetness and the chopped herbs. Next, add in the oil and stir. If still a bit too thick, add 1tbs of water until it has a pouring consistency. A crack of pepper and a sprinkle of salt and it’s done.

After  the 1 hour 40 minutes is up, take the foil off the aubergines and turn up the oven to its hottest setting for a further 8-10 minutes, to crisp them up. Once crisp they are ready to serve. To plate up, place the aubergine on the plate and smother it with the tahini dressing. Garnish with some more fresh coriander. We served ours with some fluffy couscous garnished with jewels of pomegranate and fresh spinach cooked with 1 tsp lemon zest and a drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil and some toasted almonds.

Like myself, you could serve a cocktail or rather mocktail to compliment the meal. This drink has all the classic flavours of the Levant. To make you’ll need:

  • 200ml Pomegranate juice
  • A dash of raspberry syrup
  • 2 Sprigs of mint
  • A Squeeze of lemon juice.
  • some lemon flavoured sparkling water
  • Plenty of Ice

To make, fill a glass with a handful of ice. Add in some raspberry syrup (I like to use the Polish raspberry syrup by Łowicz). Next top up the glass three quarters full with the pomegranate juice and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Top up with sparkling water and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Enjoy!