(Vegetarian) Israeli Couscous with Fresh Vegetables, Harissa and Mint

Two kinds of couscous (pearled and Israeli whole wheat) are sautéed in olive oil, then simmered in a rich, homemade vegetable stock flavored with harissa and fresh mint and tossed with a medley of lightly-cooked, seasonal vegetables..

Israeli Couscous with Fresh Vegetables, Harissa and Mint

1/2 cup pearled couscous
1/2 cup Israeli whole wheat couscous (Ptitim)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups homemade vegetable stock, boiling
1 to 2 teaspoons harissa
1 small bunch fresh mint, chopped
2 carrots, cut into small, oblique shapes, about 1/2 cup
1-2 large spring onions, including green tops, bias-cut, about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup fresh green peas
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Sauté couscous in olive oil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to coat evenly.  Add boiling vegetable stock and harissa, reduce to a simmer and cook until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed, about 8 minutes.  Stir in peas and mint, cover and remove from heat.

Sauté carrots, garlic and onions in olive oil,  stirring frequently until just softened.  Stir in tomatoes and cook 1 minute longer.

Stir cooked vegetables into warm couscous and serve garnished with fresh mint.  Offer harissa on the side if desired.

This post is part of Meatless Monday, a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health

Moroccan Spiced Lamb and Couscous with Garlic, Fresh Mint and Preserved Lemon

Local, pastured lamb (Menzie’s Farm, Harper, TX) is ground and tossed with diced onions and freshly-ground ras el hanout, then seared in clarified butter with homemade harissa.  Served over stock-simmered couscous with garlic, fresh mint and Jenny’s  Moroccan preserved lemons..

Moroccan Spiced Lamb & Couscous with Garlic, Fresh Mint and Preserved Lemon


For the Ras el Hanout (recipe by Christine Benlafquih)

2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
2 teaspoons ground mace
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Blend all of the spices in a bowl. Transfer to an air-tight glass jar and store in a dry, dark place for up to several months

For the Harissa (recipe by Christine Benlafquih)

12 to 15 dried red chili peppers (approx. 1 1/2 oz. or 100 g)
3 or 4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds (optional)
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice
olive oil

Remove the seeds from the dried chili peppers and place them in a bowl. Cover them with very hot water and leave to soften for 30 minutes to an hour.

Drain the chili peppers, and gently squeeze out excess water with a paper towel. Using a mortar and pestle (or a blender or mini food processor) grind the chili peppers, garlic, salt and spices to a paste. Add the lemon juice and just enough olive oil to moisten the harissa, or add additional olive oil to thin it.

Store unused harissa in an airtight container in the fridge. For long storage, lightly top the harissa with a little oil before covering.

For the Lamb

1 lb freshly ground lamb
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee
1-1/2 tablespoons harissa

For the Couscous

1 cup couscous (Israeli whole wheat is particularly nice)
2 cups vegetable stock or filtered water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
half of a Moroccan preserved lemon, diced
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the couscous and garlic and stir to coat.  Continue cooking until garlic is soft but not browned, about 3 minutes.

Add stock or water, increase heat and bring to a low boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add mint, lemon and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover, remove from heat and let stand 8 minutes.  Fluff with a fork before serving.

To Prepare

Heat butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Pinch off pieces of lamb about the size and shape of a ping pong ball and sauté in butter until golden brown on all sides.

Stir in harissa and toss to coat.

Place couscous in bowl and arrange lamb over the top.  Pour some of the harissa butter over the top and serve hot with additional ras el hanout, lemon and mint.

Ras El Hanout is a complex, aromatic Moroccan spice blend.  Most recipes include cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, various peppers, and turmeric, but 30 or more ingredients might be used.

Ras El Hanout’s literal translation from Arabic is “head of the shop,” meaning “the best (or top) of the shop.”

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Tunisian BBQ Meatloaf

Spicy ground lamb, harissa & mint BBQ sauce and artichoke couscous..

Tunisian BBQ Lamb Loaf

Tunisian BBQ Meatloaf

For a 1 pound loaf

1 pound pastured ground lamb
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 pastured eggs
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon grains of paradise
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked pepper

1/4 cup harissa
1/4 cup homemade ketchup
2 tablespoons filtered water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 cup couscous
1/2 can organic artichoke hearts
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon turmeric
sea salt
saffron threads

Sweat the celery, onion, carrots and garlic in a dry skillet until soft.  Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, simmer harissa, homemade ketchup, water and fresh mint in a small pan.

Crush the whole spices in a mortar.

Combine the lamb, spices, eggs, vegetables and parsley together in a bowl.  Fold in enough dry bread crumbs so that the mixture feels damp but not too wet.

Put lamb mixture into a greased loaf pan.  Set the loaf pan inside of a baking dish and pour enough water into the baking dish to come 1/2 way up the sides of the loaf pan.

Spread harissa mint sauce over the top of the meat loaf.

Place the nested pans in a 350 degree oven until cooked through, about 50-60 minutes.  Allow meatloaf to rest 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare couscous, adding quartered artichoke hearts, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, sea salt and saffron threads (optional).

To serve, place thick slices of meatloaf over couscous.  Dress with additional BBQ sauce if desired.

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Middle Eastern Lamb Chops with Curried Kuskus

Lamb chops in spicy Tunisian harissa and Mediterranean curried kuskus with peas and carrots.

Curry blend with dried vegetables, harissa, cumin, cinnamon, mint, savory, chicken stock, tomato puree, kuskus, kosher salt, lemon juice, lamb chops, tomato, carrot, celery, green onion, garlic and peas.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle kosher salt on lamb chops and set aside at room temperature.

Peel, seed and crush 2 tomatoes, setting 1 aside.  Cook the other tomato over medium-low heat with garlic, tomato puree, cumin, cinnamon, mint, savory and harissa to taste until thickened, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to lowest setting.

Arrange the lamb chops in an iron skillet with enough port wine to just cover the bottom of the pan.  Spoon spicy tomato sauce over each chop, coating well.  Place in oven and cook 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, flip the chops, cover with more sauce and add more port if the pan is dry. Cook another 10-15 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 125 degree for medium-rare.  Remove pan from oven and allow chops to rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the coussous.  Saute the carrots, celery and green onions in a little oil until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the curry mix and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the kuskus and peas, reduce heat to low cover, and cook until done, about 8 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

Add reserved chopped tomato to the sauce and heat through.

Serve the chops with additional sauce over the top.

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