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My baked rice pilaf is a veggie dish, with three kinds of mushrooms just for variety; and because there aren’t many things that can’t be improved with dried porcini flavour.
Mejadra is a simple lentil and brown rice dish and my recipe has a great fried onions shortcut tip. Levantine rice and lentils were the biblical Esau’s ‘bowl of stew’. Probably.
Bulgur wheat pilaf with red peppers and raisins: cooked like rice pilaf but refreshingly different; looks like couscous but it’s more nutritious; whole grain of cereal but not slimy like barley. That’s my perfect grain!
Bulgur wheat salad with spicy chorizo and vibrant green runner beans. Lunch or dinner, just add a dollop of yoghurt, fresh mint and dill for perfect Middle Eastern – Spanish fusion.
Five-spice butternut squash in cheesy custard is precisely the treatment the squash needs to be a great dish. No surprise, it’s a recipe from Ottolenghi.
Corn ribs from the oven, with homemade dukkah, just like the ones served at Ottolenghi’s Rovi. It’s totally a snack du moment – and de toujours, I hope.
Fresh cucumbers with cumin tahini dressing, sprinkled with extra sesame seeds are crunchy, juicy and wonderfully refreshing.
Date porridge is naturally sweet, prepared the night before and cooked within minutes into chunky, nutritious and kick-ass breakfast.
Date shortbread bars, shortcrust slices sandwiched with date, cinnamon and orange filling. Good shortcrust pastry with naturally sweet filling is great for a treat.
Duck pastilla, a Moroccan pie made with filo pastry layers encasing leftover roast duck mixture filling, with onions and peppers.
Giant (aka Israeli) couscous salad with tomatoes, roasted peppers and feta cheese. This is a great recipe for a vegetarian salad that can be eaten warm or cold.
Greek style lamb koftas served with a simple harissa dip. Lamb koftas are perfect for a barbecue and just as tasty griddled, with this easy recipe for koftas and harissa sauce.
Lavash, Middle Eastern flatbread often served with dips or kebabs, is easy to make and cooked on the hob in a frying pan with a little ghee.
Mast o khiar is Persian yoghurt and cucumber dip with fresh herbs, walnuts and raisins. Samin Nosrat’s recipe suggests using labneh, strained yoghurt cheese, and that is a complete winner.
Muhammara, roasted red pepper and walnut dip, flavoured with pomegranate molasses and Aleppo pepper flakes. This should be a firm fixture in your next meze!
Ottolenghi inspired fondue filo pie, with butternut squash swapped for mushrooms. It’s a combo of Savoyarde raclette experience and a Greek or Middle Eastern filo pastry, and it’s excellent.
Persian baked rice with courgettes and mushrooms, and crispy tahdig layer at the bottom. I didn’t half struggle to achieve tahdig in my Persian style rice.
Persian rice with broad beans, baghali polo, is fragrant, green and yellow with dill and saffron. It’s a classic Iranian side dish for lamb shanks but who cares about lamb? Baghali polo is all you will want.
Easy pita bread, ready in an hour. Pita is very gratifying because you eat bread, but so thin and not a lot of it that you can pretend you’re having a no-bread salad.
A summer salad of cucumbers, radish and lots of fresh herbs with feta cheese and a simple dressing. Cucumber, my favourite underrated fruit is usually included in vaguely Greek salads with tomato and feta cheese.
Ottolenghi teacakes are really mini ring cakes but perfect with afternoon tea so who can argue? My version has raspberry and chocolate glaze topping.
Beef, ricotta and oregano meatballs from Ottolenghi are delicate and light, cooked in a richly flavoured tomato and onion sauce.
Roasted red peppers, soft cheese and basil salad. The peppers actually will keep very well in oil or the type of dressing I suggested below; you can jar them and they will keep even longer.
Roasted root vegetables with spiced bulgur wheat are a vibrant winter dish. It’s the classic roast vegetable medley with a summery vibe.
Salmon shakshuka: spicy tomato and pepper base with chunks of fresh salmon poached in the sauce. Swap the eggs for salmon and serve shakshuka for dinner!
Sweet potatoes baked in foil, topped with tahini butter are a fabulous fiesta of flavours. Recipe adapted from NY Times Cooking.
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