Kid free, Middle Eastern feast

Yes, it was another kid free weekend….well almost kid free, we still had bubs home but he eats baby food so we could eat whatever we wanted….and boy did we PIG OUT!! I had to train extra hard at the gym this morning to work off all that chocolate and carbs!

On such weekends when the big guys are at their father’s, we often eat Asian inspired foods but this weekend I wanted something a little different. Having just had a visit from my MIL who now lives in Tunisia, I was all inspired to use some Middle Eastern flavours, and I tell you, I’ll be doing that again and again now that winter is nearly here! Funny isn’t it? The Middle East is usually thought of as being a warm, no, hot part of the world (although Tunisia does get snow in winter) but I associate Middle Eastern flavours with cooler weather. I wonder why that is. Could it be because in our western society we eat stews that are rich and strong in flavour in the colder months and when we think Moroccan we tend to think Tagine? Is it because I find the heat of the spices nice and warming on the inside, so perfect for a chilly night? Or perhaps it’s the wonderful warm colours that remind me of raging open fire. Whatever the reason, Saturday nights dinner was absolutely wonderful and dukkah (a Middle Eastern nut and spice mix) will now be a staple in my pantry.

We had quail but you really could use just about any meat with this, even fish. I thought it would be fantastic with salmon and my other half thinks whole snapper is the go…slice into the flesh and rub the spice mix in then fill the cavity with some more of the mix. Mmmm, I’m salivating as I type! But let’s not get all hung up on the meat, the vegie salad was just as amazing. In fact, I bought more ingredients to cook up a batch for my lunches this week. I had thought to do some cous cous to stir through the vegies but after seeing how much was there, decided we didn’t need it (I find it very hard to cater for just 2 people these days, there’s always enough food to sink a battle ship).

Rub for the meat

4 tbsp of dukkah

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (the stuff I’m using at the moment is from my mother in law’s farm in Tunisia, ground in the traditional way using a donkey and a big stone…oh it’s sooooooooooo gooooood)

good pinch of saffron

zest of 1/2 a lemon

juice of half an orange (use lemon juice if doing lamb)

1 tsp of chilli flakes

1 tsp of ground coriander

1/4 tsp of cumin

1 clove of garlic

Mix all ingredients together and marinate meat for at least half an hour. When you cook the meat, make sure it is well covered with the spice paste.

Middle Eastern vegie salad

1 medium sweet  potato cut into 1cm cubes

1 medium eggplant cut into 1 cm cubes

1 small red capsicum cut into 1 cm pieces

1 large red onion cut into quarters then quarters again.

4 cloves of garlic, bashed with the skin off

1 tsp of cumin

2 tsp of ground coriander

2 tsp of mild paprika

1/2 tsp of dried oregano

2 tsp of sesame seeds

1/2 tsp of ground ginger

1/4 tsp of cinnamon

1/2 tsp of salt

1/2 a pomegranate, jewels removed

3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

juice of half a lemon


Preheat oven to 180° C. Place all the vegies in a bowl then mix the herbs and spices and 2 tablespoons of the oil through until the vegies are well coated. Spread onto a baking tray, in 1 layer, and bake for about 15 minutes or until just tender. Allow to cool then stir through the pomegranate jewels and dress with the lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of oil. I guess you could serve it hot too but it was sooooo yummy cool.



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