It’s been a long wet winter in Cornwall and I am craving sunshine. No sign of a break in the weather anytime soon so for now I will have to settle for some warming and cheering Moroccan spices.
Ras el Hanout is a Moroccan spice mix, its name actually means “head of the shop” meaning that it is made from a selection of the best spices in the shop. It usually, but not always, contains cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, chilli and rose petals. And it is delicious.
Harissa is a hot, Tunisian, chilli paste. I actually had a harissa and rose petal spice mix in the cupboard so I made it into a paste with a little oil but you can buy harissa spice in most supermarkets. If you don’t have any pomegranate molasses you can use a little agave syrup (or honey if you are not a vegan) but this won’t have the same flavour.
I didn’t have enough puy lentils so I topped them up with red lentils but they cook down a bit too much and become mushier than I like for a salad so I really do recommend that you use all puy lentils.
I’ve listed the veg I used in the recipe but use whatever you have in the fridge (I did) because this is a great way to use up odds and ends. If I was cooking this for an occasion, rather than just a Friday night dinner, I would probably just use lots of different coloured peppers and tomatoes.
For the marinated Tofu
1 pack Firm Tofu
2 tbsp Harissa Paste
2 tbsp Pomegrate Molasses
1 tbsp Olive Oil
For the Lentil Salad
200g Puy Lentils
1 tsp Vegetable Bouillon
1 large Carrot
1 Stick Celery
2 cloves Garlic
½ Red Pepper (sliced)
½ Orange Pepper (sliced)
1 Red Chilli (sliced)
A generous handful of Cherry or Small Plum Tomatoes (halved)
A few florets of Broccoli and Cauliflower (cut small)
1 tbsp Ras el Hanout
1 tbsp Sunflower Oil
A handful of Coriander (chopped)
Rinse the puy lentils in plenty of cold water. Place in a pan, cover well with cold water and add the bouillon. Bring to the boil then simmer until just cooked but with a little bite left in them (about 10 mins). Drain and set aside.
Chop the onions, garlic, carrot and celery into small dice. Place in a large, lidded sautee pan with the sunflower oil and cook over a low heat, lid on, until soft.
Stir in the Ras el Hanout and cook for one minute more. Add the peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and chilli, cover and continue to cook until the vegetables are nearly cooked. Add the cooked lentils and tomatoes, stir through, cover and keep warm while you cook the tofu.
Mix the harissa paste, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Slice the tofu and brush each slice with the harissa mix on both sides. Fry in a little hot oil until the harissa mix begins to caramelise.
Pile the lentils onto a plate, add the tofu and sprinkle with coriander.