December is a rather busy month for us – as I suppose it is for most of you guys. With the holidays and their cloud of satellite-events lining up on the horizon, this is the perfect time to dig a bit deeper into my box of quick-and-easy-prep dishes that are even better if left forgotten for a few hours or even over night~
This particular dish, the taboulé especially, is a perfect example of that kind of dish – it’s actually a safety-pin I sometimes prep a day before I go to town with my usual Winter Chocolate Box preparation marathon. Plans and checklists only work that far when it comes to mammoth tasks like that, and with basically no space in my kitchen in between all the chocolate-making paraphenalia to even slice up a loaf of bread, having a bowl of the fresh and zingy salad tucked away in the corner of my fridge has turned out to be a life-saver on several occasions by now. The meatballs actually fall into the same category, although I personally prefer them fresh out of the pan. They basically take no time whatsoever to whip up though, so let’s get to it~! Just one more thing: Prep the salad at least a few hours before it’s fork’o’clock~
As you may or may not know, a Taboulé is a deliciously fragrant and very colorful arabic/lebanese couscous or bulgur salad with lots of tomatoes and fresh herbs. Since wheat is basically off my menu, but a hearty taboulé way too good to miss out on, I experimented around with substitutes for a while until I found a rice salad recipe that mentioned shredded jerusalem artichokes or cauliflower as a possible replacement and broke out into an impromptu dance. You guys probably know how much (and why~) my slightly healthnutty self is backflippingly happy whenever I get the chance to use them – especially whenever I get to shamelessly use them as replacement for something “bad” – so without further ado, here we go:
400g Jerusalem Artichokes/Topinambur Bulbs, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
1 heaped Tbsp Harissa Paste
½ Tsp ground Cinnamon
1 unwaxed Orange, Juice and Zest
1 unwaxed Lemon, Juice and Zest
5 dried Figs, chopped – as finely as the sticky yummies allow
4 Tbsp Blanched Almond Slivers, lightly toasted
2 Shallots or
1 small Red Onion
½ Yellow Bell Pepper, finely diced
½ Bunch Parsley, Coriander and Mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp Honey
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1) Pop the artichokes into a food processor or blender and whizz them into flakes the size of small rice grains with a few short high-intensity pulses.
2) Tip the flakes into a large bowl and sprinkle them with a generous pinch of salt.
3) Bring 1 ½ l of water to a boil – a watercooker works perfectly for this – and pour it into the pot holding your artichoke “couscous”.
4) Pop on a lid and leave them to soak for 10 mins. Have a taste – they should be nicely al dente. If they’re a bit undercooked for your taste, give them another dose of hot water and a few more mins.
5) Meanwhile, add the Harissa, lemony and orangey bits, figs, olive oil, shallots, bell pepper cubes, chopped herbs, vinegar and honey to a large mixing bowl and give the lot a stir until they’re well combined.
6) Drain water off of the flakes with the help of a sieve and get shaking until you’re satisfied that every last bit of excess water is gone. If you have a bit of time on hand, you could also spread out the grains on a tray lined with paper towels and allow them to steam off for a while.
7) Tip the veggie flakes into the bowl and gently fold them into the contents of your bowl until everything’s well blended together.
8) Cover the bowl with clingfilm and set it aside for at least 1 hr to give the herbs and spices some time to develop.
9) Have a taste just before plating up – with the meatballs and the yoghurt sauce in mind – and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
The Easy-Breezy Lamb Meatballs
300g Lean Lamb Mince
2 Tbsp Baharat Spice Blend
1 Clove of Garlic, very finely chopped
2 Tbsp Parsley, finely chopped
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1 generous Pinch each of Salt and Pepper
1) Place a small pan on medium heat, pop in the butter and allow it to get up to temperature.
2) Sauté the garlic and shallot until they start to soften.
3) Dust them with the Baharat and lightly stir the lot to distribute the spices. Keep the mixture in the pan just long enough for the spices to warm through and release their essential oils.
4) Take the pan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool off a bit.
5) Place the mince in a mixing bowl and generously season it with salt and pepper before dusting the heap with the parsley.
6) Add every last crumb of the contents of the pan and knead the mixture into an evenly parsley-and-onion-dotted “dough”.
7) Line a large platter or tray with a sheet of baking parchment and start rolling the mince mix into roundabout 20-25 firm, similar-sized meatballs, placing the finished ones on the tray as you go.
8) Lightly brush a large, heavy-based pan with sunflower oil or ghee and place it on medium heat.
9) Add the meatballs in batches and fry them up, turning them over constantly, until they’re crispy-golden all around.
10) In between turns and flips, take care of the yoghurt~
11) Once they’re done, tip hem out onto a plate lined with paper towels just waiting to soak up any excess fat.
12) Keep them warm until you’re ready to serve (or warm them up in case you’ve prepped them during a breather on a busy day.
The Spiced Yoghurt
200g Natural Yoghurt
½ Bunch of Mint leaves, finely chopped
1 Pinch of Hot Chilli Flakes
½ Lemon, Zest
1 Pinch of Sea Salt
1 Pinch of Cumin – or more to taste
1 good Crack of Black Pepper
1) Place all of the above in a mixing bowl and stir the lot until everything is well combined.
2) Pop the bowl into the fridge to chill through while you take care of the meatballs.
3) Just before serving, have a taste-test and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Assembling the Dish
1) Divide the Tabulé onto 2 plates, forming a “bed” for the meatballs.
2) Arrange the meatballs on top and sprinkle the servings with the toasted almonds.
3) Serve with the chilled Yoghurt and dig in~