Saturday, June 30, 2012

Morocco Meets Italy...

Life has been so busy for me. Unfortunately I haven't been cooking near as often. My brother and my sister had a baby the same week, father's day, work,.. life. It feels good to be back in the kitchen. 
Lately I've been getting bored of the same old dishes. I looked through my folder and found a moroccan side dish with a tahini sauce made with a spice mixture called ras el hanout. It's made up of 10 different spices. I love stuff like this. For some reason I decided to make a pasta dish as the main course. It worked. I used a simple recipe I found in Vegetarian Times magazine. My family is definitely into bread. Instead of running to the store to pick up a baguette, my mom suggested I make these super delicious 30-minute rolls. I did and well, they were quite delicious. Here are the recipes!
Roasted (Vegetables) with Ras El Hanout Tahini Sauce

Vegetables (supposed to be cauliflower)
 3 T. olives oil
 3 T. tahini
 2-3 T. Ras El Hanout (recipe below)
 2 small or 1 large head cauliflower (I used carrots and zucchini), cut into 2" florets
 2 lemons, cut into wedges

Tahini Sauce
 2 T. tahini
 1 T. lemon juice
 2 t. Ras El Hanout

Ras El Hanout
  (makes 1/4 C.)
2 t. smoked paprika
1 1/2 t. ground coriander
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground turmeric
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder (I used salt)
1/ t. ground all spice
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Store in airtight container.

To make vegetables: Preheat oven to 400°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, or coat with cooking spray.
Whisk together oil, tahini, and ras el hanout in large bowl. 
Add cauliflower or vegetables of choice and toss to coat well with sauce. Spread vegetables on the baking sheet and roast 20-25 minutes, or until browned and dry, stirring once or twice.
To make Tahini Sauce: Whisk together all ingredients with *1/2 C. water in bowl. Season with salt and pepper if desired. *I would highly recommend slowly adding water. I found it to be pretty runny. In the end, it's okay if it's a little runny though. 
Transfer vegetables to platter, and drizzle with tahini sauce just before serving. Serve with lemon wedges.

Fried Bucatini with Breadcrumbs

10 oz. bucatini or perciatelli (I used bow ties)
1/4 C. pine nuts
1/4 C. olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 C. dried italian-style seasoned breadcrumbs
1 t. red pepper flakes
2 T. freshly chopped italian parsley
2 T. capers, drained (I omitted) 
2 small or 1 large red bell pepper, roasted (My own addition!)

First roast peppers, or you can use bottled roasted peppers. I've always done it myself. It's quite easy. Here's some step-by-step instructions
While peppers are roasting (if you are adding them, that is), Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
Heat skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts, and cook 3 minutes, or until browned and toasted. Transfer to plate.
Wipe out skillet, add oil and garlic, and heat over medium heat for 1 minute. Stir in breadcrumbs, and red pepper flakes, and cook 1 or 2 minutes, or until breadcrumbs begin to brown. Add pasta, red peppers and parsley, and cook 3 minutes more, tossing with tongs. Transfer to bowl, and toss with capers (if using) and pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
And now for the rolls...

Quick Dinner Rolls

1 C. plus 2 T. warm water
1/3 C. oil
2 T. yeast
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 t. salt
3 1/2 C. flour (I used 2 1/2 C wheat, 1 C. white)

Preheat oven 400°F. In mixer, combine water, oil, yeast and sugar. Rest 15 minutes. Should be foamy. Mix in salt and flour. Take out and knead a few minutes.
Form dough into 12 balls. Place in greased 9x13" pan, place them in 3 by 4. Let rest 10 minutes. Bake 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
*I topped half of the rolls with coarse sea salt (I used Maldon)  
Needless to say, it was one of the best meals I've made. For me, the moroccan dish was my absolute favorite. It would be so tasty as a main dish over rice with more vegetables or tofu. I so enjoyed all the flavors of the ras el hanout tahini sauce. Yum yum. I love cauliflower, but I just used what I had in the fridge. We were low on veggies at the time. 
I brought the leftover pasta to work the next day and shared it with my co-worker. He loved it. While it was warming up in the back room, everyone commented on the yummy smells. Because there is no sauce in the pasta, it's on the drier side. If that bothers you, feel free to add more oil, soy milk, water, cream, or anything else that triggers your taste buds. 
As for the rolls, they were soft, chewy, and very tasty. We eat them while they are warm with a little vegan butter. Our favorite is Earth Balance. My mom preferred the unsalted rolls. I liked the salted. My dad didn't say:) 
I hope these recipes made up for lost time :) I also hope they inspired you, intrigued you and hopefully you will try them yourself. Let me know how you liked them and what you may have done differently. God bless you and enjoy your summer.

Until next time,

Chef Teebs

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