This has to be one of the best new recipes I have tried in quite a while.
My friends Lucy and H came round for a relaxed, girls only, midweek dinner last night. I started looking for things to cook the day before, as I wanted to use the opportunity and try out something new. I know that can be slightly risky business when you have guests, but I knew the girls would be forgiving and anyways when I saw the recipe on the Vegetarian Society Website, I was pretty sure that it was going to be good.
Well, good it was. I think I even heard the words 'better than sex' uttered by somebody. I made the chickpea stew the night before, so I just had to marinate and roast the aubergine and quickly make the couscous. The list of ingredients and the instructions look long but it all came together simply enough and the dish has loads of different flavours that work together really well. Every mouthful adds a new level.
I nearly slipped up, I forgot to add the toasted almonds. After we had finished our first serving I realised and quickly added them. They took the dish to a whole different level again, so make sure you don't forget them!
We rounded off the meal with fresh raspberries that Lucy had brought and Easy Peasy All in One Lemon Drizzle Cake. I made the cake using some home made Lemon Curd that Lucy had given to me last week. Delicious!
As with most recipes, I adjusted it ever so slightly and here's my version:
Spicy Roast Aubergines with Chickpea Stew and Jeweled Couscous (serves 4)
For the aubergines:
2 aubergines cut into bite sized cubes
1 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
2 lemons, juice of
4 cloves garlic, minced
2tsp ground coriander
2tsp ground cumin
2tsp ground black pepper
1tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp harissa paste
1/2-1 tsp salt
4tbsp olive oil
For the chickpea stew:
2 onions, sliced
2tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
150ml vegetable stock
1tbsp caster sugar
3tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
1 bay leaf
salt, to taste
2tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
For the couscous:
700ml vegetable stock
1 lemon, grated rind only
4tbsp olive oil
50g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
75g dried apricots, chopped
3tbsp golden raisins
3tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
to taste salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the roast aubergines, place the chopped aubergines in one layer in an oven proof dish.
In a seperate bowl mix all the other ingredients together to make a marinade.
Pour over the aubergines and toss well until they are evenly coated.
Cover and allow to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 190C/Gas 5.
Place the aubergines into the hot oven, uncovered and roast them for 30 minutes or until soft.
While they are cooking you can make the chickpea stew, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and fry the onions until soft and beginning to slightly brown. (Or like me you can make this the previous night.)
Add the minced garlic and the spices and continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes and sugar and simmer gently until it has reduced a bit and starts to thicken.
Add the tomato puree, drained chickpeas and the bay leaf.
Bring back to a simmer and cook for five more minutes.
Season to taste and stir in the chopped coriander, remove the bay leaf.
To make the couscous, put the couscous in a pan and pour the hot vegetable stock over.
Bring to a boil, cover and remove from the heat.
Allow to stand for five minutes before fluffing it up with a fork.
Add the apricots, golden raisins, toasted almond slivers and chopped coriander and fold them in.
Layer all three components in a large serving bowl, starting with the couscous, followed by the chickpea stew and finally topping it with the roast aubergines.