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March 9, 2014 by josie100olives

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Menu:
Marinated olives, dukkah with olive oil, flatbread
Vegetable tagine
Dukkah-crusted grilled chicken
Quinoa, feta and herb salad
Dan Lepard’s Marrakech Express Cakes

This week’s discovery – just one home-made condiment can make you look like a culinary genius.

I was totally behind the eight-ball on FND this week. Work was mental and a fruitless Friday afternoon search for fresh coriander left me with a menu plan in tatters. Quietly cursing (what felt like) every grocer in the Melbourne CBD for failing to deliver the herby goods, I decided to buy some Dukkah, and sprinkle it on the chicken instead of the chermoula marinade I had originally planned. But seriously, $10 for a tiny tub? Not when I knew I probably had all the ingredients in my pantry at home.

On the tram home I started trawling Pinterest for a good recipe, and came upon this one by Yotam Ottolenghi. His recipes have never failed to elicit glowing reviews from guests in the past, so I was confident this would deliver.

What I didn’t expect was for this Dukkah to become the star of the show – I served it with olive oil and flatbread as part of the entree, sprinkled it on the grilled chicken for the main and added a couple of tablespoons to the quinoa and feta salad in place of the toasted pine nuts I usually use.

My guests were also seriously impressed that I had made from scratch something many people buy pre-made in a tub. So it turns out that being a cheapskate can make you look like a master chef! I won’t lie, having to roast all the bits and pieces separately was a bit of a pain, but if you are more organised than me and make the dukkah in advance (it keeps for a month in an airtight container) you’ll have the tools for any number of quick meals at your fingertips. I swapped in almonds for hazelnuts, as that’s what I had on hand (plus i like almonds better)

For the vegetable tagine I use this recipe and just leave out the chicken (although it is fantastic with the chicken as well). Use any veg you like/have on hand. Sweet potato, parsnip and zucchini are my favourite. I also often add chickpeas, especially if I’m not cooking for carnivores.

The quinoa salad is a version of one I use all the time, varying the ingredients to suit the cuisine or depending what I have in the house. But it’s a pretty standard combo of some herbs, some type of onion (spring, finely diced red) vegetable (diced capsicum/zucchini/tomato/wilted spinach/rocket) and something roasted and nutty (pine nuts/flaked almonds/sesame seeds/sunflower seeds) dressed in some type of oil and something acidic (my go-to combo is olive oil and sherry vinegar). I usually cook about 1 cup of quinoa in 1.5 cups of water – bring to the boil, turn to lowest heat then simmer for 15 mins. Make sure to rinse the quinoa really well first, otherwise it will taste bitter.

This week’s dessert is courtesy of Dan Lepard’s Marrakech Express Loaf which I made as single-serve cakes. I do this often, as it allows you to pretty much halve the baking time, control portion sizes and easily wrap and freeze leftovers. This was dense, moreish and perfectly spiced. The pomegranate molasses is what really makes it. I used pine nuts instead of walnuts, because that’s what I had in the house at the time, and it worked well.

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