roasted roots, chickpea & couscous pilaf with harissa sauce, chermoula and feta
This is a great way to make a warming main course from those unheralded roots that are so plentiful at the moment. If you can dig them out of the frozen ground, that is.
The recipe is essentially very simple – roast some roots, soak some couscous and stir them together – but it looks longer and more complex because of the two elements that bring most of the flavour to the dish. Both the chermoula and harissa sauce can be made well in advance and will keep in the fridge for at least four days. Chermoula is a sort of North African pesto with citrus and sweet spices as well as fresh herbs that will give a complex background flavour to all sorts of dishes – and sandwiches too – the kind of flavour that makes people go – ‘ooh yum, what is that?’ If your taste leans towards the hot and sweet, then the harissa sauce is something you’ll find plenty of use for too – try it as a pasta sauce, especially with roast aubergine and dark greens like kale.
1tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
50g fresh coriander
100g fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic
3 tsps paprika
rind of ½ lemon
rind of ½ orange
300mls olive oil
2 red peppers, roasted and peeled
225mls olive oil
4-5 tsps harissa paste
400g swede turnip
red onion, halved and thinly sliced
150g chickpeas, cooked
small handful each of chopped fresh parsley and coriander
100g feta, crumbled
To make the chermoula, blend everything except the olive oil in a food processor, then add the oil to get a pesto-like consistency.
To make the harissa sauce, chop the peppers and put them in a pan with the oil and water. Boil for 2 minutes. Blend with a hand blender until emulsified. Add the harissa and blend again.
Preheat the oven to 400f.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Peel the vegetables and chop them into large bite-size chunks. Put the turnip in the boiling water and simmer for five minutes, then add the carrots. Simmer for two minutes, then add the parsnip and simmer for two minutes more. Drain and put the roots in an oven dish with the red onion and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the roots are tender and beginning to caramelise.
Meanwhile, cook the couscous by pouring 300mls of warm water or light stock over the 320g of couscous. Quickly stir it once or twice and leave it to soak for fifteen minutes. Sift it with a fork to separate the grains.
Stir the couscous into the roots with the chickpeas and fresh herbs. Add a few tablespoons of the chermoula and season with salt. Serve the pilaf with some harissa poured around each portion and some feta crumbled on top. Finish by squeezing some lime juice over.