The term “tapas” refers to small delectable portions of any kind of Spanish cuisine, served either cold or hot. Tapas can be simple in preparation but sumptuous in presentation, and really shine when they are complementary with flavorful vegetables, humble grains, and hearty proteins. While this week’s recipe isn’t a traditionally Spanish recipe, it is a versatile and inspired dish that combines briny Spanish olives with spicy North African harissa paste along with rich roasted root vegetables, and can be served as a small plate or main dish. Lemony black lentils and nutty tempeh were served as the main protein with mine, but any fish or red meat would work well too. This particular spicy harissa paste was a cheap and lucky find at Trader Joe’s but the Mina brand also offers a milder and sweeter version that is available at grocery stores. Altogether, this was an amazingly simple and unforgettable one-sheet-wonder that has already been repeated quite a few times in our household.
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into long rectangles
- 1-2 lbs baby potatoes
- 1-2 TB Trader Joe’s harissa paste (it’s spicy, so flavor to taste)
- 1/2 cup green olives with pimento and 1 TB olive brine
- 3 TB olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Add sliced fennel, carrots and whole baby potatoes on large baking sheet and toss to coat with olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes then remove carrots and fennel and place in large serving bowl. Continue roasting potatoes for additional 15-20 minutes. When done, add roasted potatoes and green olives to the serving bowl then coat with harissa paste, olive brine and squeezed lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve warm.
Yesterday I spent about an hour browsing the melamine aisle at Target and it felt really amazing. Turning over the various floral pattern plate sets and palming the smooth plastic cups available in a variety of sea greens was just what I needed to come back to my domestic decision-making reality and refocus my attention after a blissful holiday week in Michigan.
We didn’t do much recipe experimenting while on vacation, but we did roast marshmallows and grill the best veggie burgers I’ve ever eaten – thanks Michael, Stephanie, “Baby Lily”, and Kosar! I did, however, manage to try a wonderful new recipe for Quinoa with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Harissa Marinade from Amy Chaplin’s book “At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen” before leaving town which I cannot recommend enough. The roasted vegetables and quinoa are the basis of many traditional Italian dishes, but the aromatic Harissa – a mild chile paste that’s a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking – added an unexpected spicy flavor which will soon become a new staple in my kitchen.
Quinoa with roasted summer vegetables
- 1 cup quinoa
- Sea salt
- 2 zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
- 1 orange pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
- 1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, cut into wedges
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Pre heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook quinoa two parts water to one part quinoa on medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Place zucchini, peppers and cherry tomatoes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and toss to combine. Put in oven and roast 20 to 25 minutes, stirring half way. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Heat a skillet over high heat add a tablespoon of olive oil and red onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook about 10 minutes or until onions are caramelized. Add a pinch of salt, stir and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you like it
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Large pinch sea salt
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Warm a skillet over a medium flame and add the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds, toast for 3 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer into a spice grinder and grind until fine. Place ground spices in a bowl and add the cayenne, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Stir and then drizzle in the olive oil, stir until smooth. Spoon harissa in a small bowl, add lemon juice and olive oil. I actually did about 1/4 cup olive oil to break down the paste a bit more. Stir well and set aside.Place cooked quinoa and roasted vegetables in bowl, drizzle with harissa, and gently toss to combine.