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July 17, 2017
By Yogalife

Hearty, Healthy Vegetarian Delights

With ‘Levantine Harvest’, her first cookbook, Lara Ariss brings her signature love of medleys of flavour together with a keen appreciation for fresh seasonal produce and a gratifyingly straightforward approach to preparing food. We bring you some deliciously healthy vegetarian recipes to try out this summer…

Pumpkin Kibbeh

This popular vegan version of kibbeh was initially created to be eaten during Lent.

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus refrigeration

Cooking time: 2 hours

Serves: 4 to 6

1kg pumpkin, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 onion, quartered

1⁄2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp allspice

330g fine burghul, rinsed and drained

1 tbsp plain our 3 tbsp olive oil Salt, to taste

For the stuffing

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 onions, finely chopped

1 tsp allspice

1⁄2 tsp cinnamon

3⁄4 bunch fresh spinach

1 tsp cumin

60g walnuts, coarsely chopped 60g golden raisins

1 – 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses 45ml olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the pumpkin and 125ml water in a large pot over medium heat. Bring to the boil and cover for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and boil for 40 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Drain the pumpkin in a colander and set aside for 20 minutes. Using a vegetable masher or the back of a spoon, press the pumpkin to extract all the liquid. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

Process the onion with the allspice, cinnamon, cumin and salt in a food processor until finely chopped.

Add the onion mixture, burghul and our to the pumpkin and mix them by hand until they become a smooth paste. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the stuffing, heat the vegetable oil in a medium frying pan over low heat. Add the onion, allspice and cinnamon, and fry until the onion is translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the spinach, stirring continuously until it is wilted, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and stir to combine. Toss in the walnuts and raisins, then stir in the pomegranate molasses. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grease a 25cm round springform cake tin with olive oil. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Pour some water in a small bowl with a few ice cubes.

Divide the kibbeh mixture into two equal parts.

Lay a large piece of parchment paper on your work surface. Place one-half of the kibbeh on the paper and lay another piece of parchment on top of it. Tap the kibbeh with a rolling pin to atten it, then roll it out into a circle about 1cm thick and about 25 to 30cm in diameter. Remove the top layer of parchment and flip the kibbeh into the ovenproof dish. Moisten your fingers in the ice water and flatten the kibbeh in the bottom of the baking dish.

You may need to moisten your fingers several times to ensure the kibbeh is level and smooth.

Spread the stuffing evenly over the kibbeh, then lay the other half of the mixture over the stuffing, following the procedure above.

Cut the kibbeh into quarters with a sharp knife. It is traditional to draw a geometric pattern on the top of each quarter using a small knife, which is an attractive way of personalizing the dish if you have the time.


Vegetarian Maqloubeh

Maqloubeh, which means “upside-down” in Arabic, is a well-known Palestinian dish common to Lebanon and Syria. Usually, it is a dish of layered meat, vegetables – usually aubergine – and rice that is turned upside down before presentation, rather like a cake – hence its name. In this vegetarian version, the rice absorbs the intense flavors of the vegetables, garlic and cardamom. It is just as wholesome and fulling as the traditional version.

Preparation time: 50 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves: 4 to 6

600 – 700ml vegetable stock

100ml vegetable oil

1 small cauliflower head, cut into large orets

2 carrots, cut diagonally into 1⁄2cm slices

150g young okra, stems cut off and caps trimmed or runner beans, tops and tails removed

1 tomato, cut into 1cm slices

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp cardomom seeds, crushed

300g short-grain rice, rinsed and drained

50g pine nuts

Salt and freshly black pepper, to taste

For the Tahini Sauce

160ml tahini, well stirred

Juice of 2 lemons

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Salt, to taste

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a straight-sided pot that is between 23 and 25cm in diameter and about 10 to 12cm deep. Fry the cauliflower for 2 to 3 minutes, until it starts to change in color. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat this process with the okra or runner beans, and the carrots.

Place the vegetables in the pot in layers, beginning with the cauliflower, then the carrots, okra or runner beans, and tomatoes. Pour 600ml of the vegetable stock over the vegetables and stir in the garlic and cardamom. Bring to a light simmer and add the rice. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and cover for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the rice is al dente. Add the remaining 100ml of stock if the pot becomes too dry. Remove from the heat and set aside, covered, for 20 minutes before serving.

In the meantime, heat a small frying pan over medium heat for 1 or 2 minutes. Once the pan is hot, add the pine nuts and reduce the heat to low. Shake the pan continuously until the nuts begin to brown, about 1 or 2 minutes. Remove the nuts from the pan immediately – they will burn very quickly – and set them aside.

In the meantime for the tahini sauce, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Add 160 to 170ml water and season with salt. The consistency should be smooth and silky; if there are any lumps, add more water and continue mixing.

Place a large at round serving platter on top of the pot and quickly turn it upside down. Ideally, the rice will retain the shape of the pan for presentation; the taste remains the same if it falls apart. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and serve immediately with taratour or alternatively, plain yogurt.


Feta, Fresh Herb and Olive Omelette

I have moved away from traditional Levantine or Arab cuisine here. The omelette is native to French cooking, but this particular recipe is adapted from the Spanish tortilla, and I have added a versatile choice of ingredients from both East and West to give it a burst of beautiful flavor. Omelettes are the ultimate healthy fast food, and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 to 6

2 potatoes, sliced

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

10 eggs

100g feta cheese, crumbled

2 sprigs rosemary, stems removed, coarsely chopped

2 sprigs wild thyme, stems removed, coarsely chopped

1 tsp oregano

60g pitted green olives

25g sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the potato slices in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat, until the potatoes are tender – about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Brush a large (approximately 30cm) oven-safe frying pan with vegetable oil. Sauté the spring onions over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and sauté for a further 5 to 7 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 1800C.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the feta, rosemary, thyme, oregano, olives and sun-dried tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the onions and potatoes and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, then place the pan in the preheated oven for 10 minutes to ensure the omelet is cooked through.

To serve, gently transfer the omelet from the pan onto a serving plate. Serve piping hot, at room temperature, or cold.




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