Sunday, 22 February 2015

20 North African and Middle Eastern Vegetarian Dishes

It will be clearly apparent to any readers of this blog that I absolutely LOVE Middle-Eastern and North African flavours. It’s no coincidence that my fiancĂ© proposed atop Riad Mur Akush in Marrakech before we sat down to a sumptuous Moroccan feast, that man knows the way to my heart is Ras El Hanout! But it’s not just Morocco that inspires me, the food of Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, Palestine, Egypt and beyond is a constant source of exciting ideas.

Merguez spiced Chickpeas and an oozy fried egg for simple supper
There is something wonderfully comforting about the earthy tones of ground coriander and cumin whilst spikes of caraway and preserved lemon enliven the taste buds with a gentle smack in the face. The other thing that I love about these Southern-Mediterranean delights is that whilst there are a fair few meaty dishes to dodge, the vegetables are often the star of the show (or at least they can be made to be if needs be).

I’m certainly not alone in my love of Middle Eastern food, 15 years ago Houmous was mere hippy food and now it adorns almost every fridge in the country! Chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Claudia Roden and super blogger Bethany Kehdy have certainly done their part in encouraging this chickpea-fuelled craze. I would highly recommend reading their books by the way, they are an absolute education.

So here is a collection of Veggie-Friendly North African and Middle Eastern dishes; do leave a comment if you have your own favourite to add.

NB: You may notice the glaringly obvious omissions of Baba Ghanouj and Houmous, I assure you this is completely intentional. They are such ubiquitous recipes to be found in every corner of the internet that I figured it was better to reserve a space for something a little less well known.

Mezze and Sharing Dishes

Carrot and Fava Bean Falafels ready for a wrap
Falafels are of course traditionally made with chickpeas but my experiments with dried split fava beans turned up these Fava Bean and Carrot Falafels which were a lovely alternative. And if you look up Hodmedods you can buy British grown Favas which is no bad thing!

Bethany Kehdy's Pumpkin Kebbeh are a deliciously sweet alternative to falafel and a magnificent use of the squash glut in autumn.

Muhammara is a red pepper based dish that is a must for a mezze platter and Bethany Kehdy's recipe is my favourite.

Fattoush Salad is the regions way of using up left over pittas that are past their best. It is great for a mezze spread but also makes a wonderful lunch on its own.
Lahmacun, a surprisingly quick and easy
Turkish take on pizza
Whenever I have gone to turkey I have coveted the lamb covered pizzas but a veggie version just wasn't forth coming. These Smokey Vegetarian Lahmacun are so delicious and make an awesome lunch as well as a superb sharing dish.
The sesame seeds in these Cheese Borak are a delicious addition to a classic courtesy of the Syrian Foodie.
Besara is a smoky and moreish Moorish dip that I have adapted from a recipe in the Jewelled Kitchen. It's so delicious that I have almost (but not quite) replaced my houmous obsession.
This Carrot salad from three ladies blogging in Libya is a welcome addition to any collection of sharing dishes. They also serve something similar in Portuguese restaurants with bread and oils as you sit down. 

The Main Event
My first post from back in May 2013 remains one of my favourite recipes. The sweet onions and delicate spicing make these Roasted Aubergine Boats a fantastic and healthy centrepiece to any meal. 

The onions are the absolute star of the show in Ottolenghi's Mejadra, a delicious rice dish that is incredible served with just a couple of hard boiled eggs as accompaniment. 

Egyptian Lentil Bake with an eggy topping 

Proof that all food is improved with an egg on top, my Egyptian Lentil Bake makes the most of north African spicing and is a great addition to a dinner party spread.
A Seven Vegetable Tagine is the most incredible centre piece to a veggie friendly North African feast and was the dish I was served up when Ed proposed so it has a special place in my heart. That one didn't have cabbage though, instead it was dotted with fennel. The wonder of this dish is you can choose what veg is in season and your favourite.
Simple Suppers
Inspired by something that Nigel Slater did on his show, my recipe for Merguez Peppers and Chickpeas with an egg on top is the ideal simple supper.
Super easy vegetable and feta tray bake

One oven dish makes this simple to make and simple to clean up, the flavours of this Vegetable and Feta Cheese Tray Bake are wonderfully comforting too, perfect for a cosy night in.
Something a Little Sweet

Another easy, go to recipe courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi is his Roasted Figs with Pomegranate Molasses and Orange Zest.
My Turkish Delight Strawberries with Saffron Cream have to be my favourite summer dessert now, a bit different to the usual strawberries and cream but no less quick and easy.

Turkish Delight Strawberries with Saffron cream for a Middle Eastern take on a British classic
M’hanncha, I feel in love with this recipe when I saw Jamie Oliver give it a go on his Jamie Does Morocco show. Filo pastry and almonds, what's not to like! A fab make ahead dessert, try it with the saffron cream that comes with my strawberry recipe below.

A simple Lebanese Tarator Sauce goes with pretty much all dishes. Sesame, garlic, lemon juice, what's not to like?
Preserved Lemons are expensive when you buy them which I find ridiculous since the only two essential ingredients are lemons and salt. These are spiced with flecks of dried chilli too. Pop them in a pretty jar and they also make a delightful gift.
Sweet Fig Vinegar might not be the most ubiquitous of middle eastern ingredients but this is my take on a fruity vinegar using one of the regions most celebrated fruits. It's another item that makes a lovely gift too.

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Oaty Banana Pancakes

I have been trying to cut down my wheat in take recently, I am not cutting it out completely, my life would not be nearly so happy without tiger bread for one thing. That said, it makes me feel bloated whenever I eat it and I am well aware that too much wheat is not helping me lose any weight. So, the plan? I am updating recipes where I can to be wheat free. Last night we had spelt dough pizza for instance (this one needs tweaking before it can come anywhere near the blog though) and this weekend I also made these Oat-based banana pancakes for breakfast. 

This is a recipe that I have had a little play around with. The first time I made pancakes using ground oats in the place of flour they were just too heavy. Very filling and I didn't need to snack but they also tasted just a little bit too much like health food for my liking. Second time round I used less oats and increased the raising agent but then they lost too much of their substance. Helpfully, the old adage of 3rd time lucky bore out and I found that with the addition of banana and a little less oats that the first attempt but a few more than the second that I had a good recipe on my hands. 

Oaty Banana Pancakes

100g oats (you can get gluten free ones)
200ml milk (I used Koko Milk which is made from Coconut milk, it's low in calories and gives a deliciously coconutty flavour to the pancakes)
1 large egg
1 banana
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Coconut oil for frying

Method :

1. Whizz up all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
2. Leave to sit for 5 minutes, the raising agents should cause bubbles to form. 

3. While the mix is resting, get a non stick pan on the hob on a nice and high heat. Spoon in a small amount of coconut oil. 

4. When the oil is melted, spoon in the mix a ladle at a time, depending on the size of pan, you should be able to cook two at once. 

5. After about a minute, you will see the edges brown a little, quickly and calmly flip each pancake and cook the other side for another 30seconds or so. Essentially you are looking for both sides to be golden brown. 

6. I keep the pancakes warm in a foil parcel while I make up the rest of the batch. 

7. Serve with berries (I've used blueberries here), a dollop of yoghurt and a squirt of syrup (I used maple this time round as I was out of Rice Malt Syrup. The rice syrup is fructose free though so it is better for you). 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Sugar Free Coconut Scones

Since we moved to a village from the city, Ed and I have been reminded of just how friendly neighbours can be. Not that it is impossible in the city, after all that's how we met but it is certainly less than usual. In my new guise as a friendly neighbour, I've started to bake for my fellow villagers with one exception. Until this week I hadn't made anything for the lady across the road. She has diabetes and my bakes have tended to be sugar loaded affairs. 

Last weekend I sought to rectify this glaring omission in my baked goods gifts with a batch of coconut scones. I will be honest, I wasn't entirely sure they would be tasty without the sugar, I was concerned they would sit in the no mans land between sweet and savoury. And to be honest I was right, they are in that space, but it isn't a no mans land, it's just the middle ground and what delicious ground that is. The coconut adds a hint towards sweetness which could easily be added to with a generous dollop of jam but in all honesty I haven't felt the need to do that at all. These scones are mightily delicious as they are. 

Coconut Scones

250g Plain Flour
1tsp bicarbonate of Soda
50g dessicated Coconut
A pinch of salt
1 medium egg
100ml Buttermilk 

1. Sieve the flour and bicarbonate together in a bowl. Mix in the desiccated coconut and salt.

2. Beat the egg and add to the mix, get your hands in the bowl and lightly work the egg mix through. 

3. Mix in the buttermilk gradually with your hands until everything comes together in a soft dough, try not to be too heavy handed at this stage. You may need a little extra or a little less buttermilk, what you are looking for is a soft but not too sticky dough. 

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, roll gently to a thickness of 3cm and using a cutter cut out about 12 rounds. You will find that you may need to roll the mixture again, do so with as light a hand as possible. 

5. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 20 minutes or until risen and a lovely golden brown colour. 

6. My best advice is to enjoy them straight from the oven with a slathering of good quality butter. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Moroccan Vegetable Traybake

This recipe is ideal for a midweek dinner when all you have the energy for is five minutes of half hearted chopping. Perfect for a Monday then! 

First get together the following:

A small squash
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp Moroccan curry spice (or a half and half mix of Ras El Hanout and mild curry powder) 

All you need to do, is cut a small butternut squash into chunks and mix with the oil and spice mix. Put in the over at 220deg C for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, roughly chop the following:

Two peppers (I used red and green)
A leek
A white onion (cut into segments)
2 garlic cloves
1 red chilli (we went for seeds removed this time)
1 tin of chickpeas (drained)
Salt and pepper

Mix into the squash mixture and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes. 

Serve with a handful of fresh coriander and parsley stirred through and a generous crumbling of feta cheese on top. 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Besara - move over Houmous!

First off, I need to get something off my chest. My name is Lucie Stoker and I am a Houmous addict! So you can imagine my delight at finding something that could possibly wean me off my houmous obsession, it's a dip with a similar texture and the same wonderfully savoury quality and yet it is completely different. 

I was flicking through my new copy of Veggistan the other day (highly recommend it by the way, such an amazing collection of vegetarian recipes from the Middle East) and I came across a recipe that I could have quite easily glided over... broad bean mash. Just sounds a bit drab really, it's proper name of Besara sounds far more tempting. Apart from the rather exotic sounding green cumin seeds I had everything in stock which also made it an immediate winner. This is a perfect stock cupboard option since it makes use of dried fava beans.

Before I get on to the recipe, a quick note about soaking... To soak or not to soak, that is many a cooks question. The recipe in the book suggests soaking the fava beans over night, I use Hodmedods Split Dried Fava Beans for the precise reason that I don't have to. A half an hour soak followed by the thorough boiling does the job just fine but different ones may well vary, make sure to check the packet.


1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
200g dried fava beans (split dried fava beans really speeds up the process)
600ml of water
juice of a lemon
drizzle of extra olive oil

1. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and lightly fry off the onion followed by the cumin seeds and smoked paprika. 

2. Pour over the water, cover and bring to a simmer. 

3. It will take about 30 minutes for the fava beans to soften but it could be a bit longer, keep an eye on the water, if it goes completely dry then add a little more. 

4. Once the fava beans are soft and the water is mostly soaked up, beat the mixture with a wooden spoon to mash the beans. Season with salt and pepper and squeeze in the lemon juice. 

5. Serve in a bowl with a generous drizzle of peppery extra virgin olive oil. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Sweet Fig Vinegar - delicious and a wonderful gift

Christmas is fast approaching and each year I try and make a large proportion of my presents. One reason is that it's pretty cost effective but the other is that a homemade gift, and a tasty one at that can be something that the recipient just can't head out and buy in the shops. 

In the hampers this year (and most years to be honest), is this super fast to prepare Fig Vinegar, all it needs really is some time steeping away in the jar. Start now and it will be ready in time for Christmas. 

Why not gift in a pretty bottle with some serving suggestions attached, personally I love this as the basis for a dressing on a fattoush salad or simply served with some olive oil and breads for dipping. 

Fig Vinegar

It really is a very simple method. 

You need the following:

Large Jar with a clip top
lots of fresh figs. 
A 330ml bottle of cider vinegar for each 8 figs
A tablespoon of caster sugar for each 8 figs

1. Quarter your figs, and fill into a large, sterilised preserving jar followed by the cider vinegar and sugar. 

2. Leave the jar for at least a month, but ideally two. Every now and then give it a bit of a shake. It's not dissimilar to the method for slow gin. 

3. When you are ready to decant, make sure your bottles are throughly sterilised. 

4. Put a sieve lined with muslin cloth over a large bowl and pour the vinegar through. Then gather up the cloth and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. The aim is to get out every bit of juice left in the figs, you will find that a few seeds get through which really is no bad thing as a smattering of them are rather pretty. 

5. Finally, fill each of the bottles, label and give them out to some of your most deserving friends and family members. Make sure you keep a bottle back for yourself of course! 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The first competition and up for grabs, a bible of Italian food!

It’s been about a year and a half since I started the blog and I have had so much fun writing it. I've found that by writing about my kitchen escapades I have been pushed to try new things and really thing about what I’m putting in my food. I'm also cooking out of a larger kitchen of late but that will all change again once we move (sigh). 

In terms of dieting I’m afraid it hasn't been massively successful. I continue to do the 5:2 diet more for the benefits relating to cancer and dementia prevention rather than weight loss. A lengthy kitchen refurb (3 months of takeaways and microwave meals take their toll), a back injury have limited my success in respect of the latter. Still, I’m not going to give up and resign myself to a lifetime (and wedding day) of flabbiness.

So what about the year ahead? We have recently moved from Wales to Sussex and I've started my pupillage after 4 years of seemingly endless applications so it seems like now is the best time to wipe the slate clean and start again. I’ll continue with 5:2 where possible but I've also found in the last month that cutting out added sugar has really helped me increase my energy, I’m losing weight and my skin seems to be looking brighter too. For someone who loves a bit of cake it is no mean feat and I've had a few weddings and social events where I wasn't quite so vigilant. Still, it’s going generally OK and I’m also now getting back into exercise. I've set myself a manageable target of 20 minutes a day; surely I can stick to that… right?

What can you expect over the next year? More vegetarian recipes that are hopefully something a little bit different and certainly varied. There will be less of the cakes (but not completely – I can’t resist the odd treat) and more of the veg. I also promise to try and be more consistent in my posts, this has been a very busy year and doing without the kitchen certainly doesn't help when you write a food blog. So this year I pledge to try harder to maintain not just my weight loss but also the recipe posting too.

Now to the important bit… the competition!

To celebrate the fact that I’m still blogging, and also the fact that Big Cook Tiny Kitchen has over 500 likes on Facebook I thought it was time to host my first giveaway. I've chosen a copy of Antonio Carluccio’s The Collection, quite simply because it is a veritable Bible of Italian food. Just enter below and I will send the winner their very own copy.

(NB postage and packaging is paid for within the UK but for those outside there may be a charge for shipping costs).

What's your favourite Italian Recipe?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Green Onion Pizza - sounds odd but humour me!

It's been a month since we moved and I'm getting used to life as a baby barrister.  One things for sure, I have less time for cooking and even less time to write about it so I'm afraid that these posts are unlikely to be that regular while things find an equilibrium. That said, a girl's gotta eat and if there's one thing I can't abide, it's a bland and boring supper. So I'm on the look out for quick options and preferably ones that aren't going to cost the earth (contrary to popular opinion, barristers aren't all raking it in, particularly at the junior end in a legal aid practice). So that's what you can expect going forward, quick and cheap meals that you can make mid week. Well, mostly... I'm sure that I'll still be a bit adventurous on the weekends. 

So to last nights supper, homemade pizza certainly doesn't sound like a "quick option" but this isn't really too bad if you make the dough in advance. This dough can be made and then frozen in portions. Take out your portion in the morning and you'll have the dough for a pizza base, ready and defrosted by tea time. 

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Veg Everyday contains a wonderfully versatile recipe for his "magic" bread dough. It's a mix of plain and strong flour so you get a crisp pizza crust out of it and similarly there's sufficient gluten content for a few hearty rolls too. It's precisely this dough that I used last night for a rather tasty, if a little unusual pizza. 

I didn't have any kale for HFW's kale and onion topping so I improvised with spring greens and mushrooms. The result was exceptionally tasty, rich and moorish.  It was a welcome change to the usual tomato and mozzarella loaded affair.

Green Onion Pizza

For the dough 

This is a job for the weekend, the quantities below make three pizzas or six rolls. I freeze in three portions since there are only two of us. You could of course make more or freeze in larger portions should you be feeding a hungry hoard. 

250g each of strong white flour and plain flour
1 tsp fast action instant yeast
1 and a half tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Tip the flour into a mixing bowl, lay the yeast on one side and the salt on another. You don't want them directly touching as salt tends to kill off yeast. Drizzle over the olive oil and make a well in the centre. 

Measure out 375ml of water and pour about 80% of it into the well. Get your hands into the bowl and mix into a dough, if it needs a little more water to get it to a soft but not sticky consistency then add some more. You might even need more than the 375ml, it tends to depend on the flour.

Tip out the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead, knead, knead for about 10-15 minutes. The dough will take on a soft yet elastic quality. To check it's needed enough, pull into a tight ball and give the dough a poke. If the indent starts to even out then it's done, if you can still see the impression of your finger I'm afraid that more kneading will be required. 

Pop the dough ball back into the mixing bowl and leave covered with a damp tea towel to rise to double it's size. It will take about 1-2 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen. 

Kick back the dough and split into three portions. Each portion will make either one pizza or two hearty rolls (you'll need to allow the defrosted dough time to prove again if you go for this option).

Pop the portions you don't want to use in a plastic bag (make sure to squeeze out any air), seal and then into the freezer. 

*** This also makes an ideal base for my Smoked Tofu Lahmacun ***

Green onion topping

1 tbsp olive oil
1 finely sliced onion
4-6 leaves of finely sliced greens (depends on their size)
6 mushrooms, diced into small chunks
1 clove garlic, crushed
30g strong and tangy cheddar cheese, finely grated

First things first, get your oven nice and hot. I tend to get mine as high as it will go, which is 250deg C in the new house.

Fry the onion in the olive oil over a medium heat until they take on a translucent quality. A pinch of salt in the pan will help to curb any browning. Add in the mushrooms for a couple of minutes, followed by the greens and garlic in quick succession. 

Keep the contents of the pan moving, given five minutes the greens will wilt and the mushrooms will shrink. Season with salt and pepper at this stage. 

Roll out one of the portions of your dough into a thin pizza base. You'll see from my picture that I'm hardly looking for a perfectly round final product! While you're rolling, pick up the dough every now and then to "relax" it. 

Lay the base on a non stick baking sheet. Scatter over the green onion topping and follow with a smattering of the cheese. 

Put the pizza into the oven (which should be pretty scorching hot by now) until it's wonderfully crispy. This will depend entirely on your oven, mine took about 7 minutes. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Rosey Strawberries with Saffron Cream, it's summer in a bowl!

Summer means one thing in my kitchen, lots and lots of strawberries! Whilst I may occasionally buy a punnet at other times in the year, I am invariably disappointed. Out of season strawberries just seem to lack the deeply red skin and flesh that's so juicy you'd be best to have a napkin on hand! It's no wonder really, they have to travel in from abroad so can't be picked as close to ripening for fear of spoiling. Not so with a British strawberry, and it's certainly not an issue when I venture out into the field on a PYO expedition. 

If there's one tip I can give you it is to shun a punnet over brimming with those huge shiny red ones from the supermarket.  You might get lucky and have a container full of huge tasty strawbs but the more likely scenario is that they will be positively bland compared to their smaller siblings. Instead, have a look for the batch containing small strawberries that have a decent reddy hue to them. That way you can be sure they are both, close to ripe but also intensely fruity. 

Reading the observer a few weeks ago I came across this intriguing and wonderfully recipe by Nigel Slater for strawberries and saffron cream. What a lovely way to jazz up an old classic, the earthy yet floral notes of the saffron really do work with a bowl of fragrant strawberries. 

It was to this recipe that I returned when faced with the prospect of cooking for a friend in the midst of our house move. I wanted something exciting yet easy and this fit the bill nicely. Having had an array of Middle eastern mezze the saffron fit the theme perfectly, this time though I macerated the strawberries in rose water and the result was sublime and of course reminiscent of Turkish Delight. Floral, fragrant, earthy, sweet and with a hint of extra freshness from the mint spring, I think this might become my go to easy dessert for the rest of the summer! 

Rosey Strawberries with Saffron Cream

In a bowl mix:

250g strawberries - halved or quartered, what ever takes your fancy.
1/2 - 1 tsp rose water (you really don't need much but it will depend on the brand you use, mine is particularly rosey)
1tbsp rice malt syrup (agave or honey would also work)

Leave to macerate for 20-30 minutes. 

At the same time, pop a good pinch of saffron into 1tbsp boiling water and allow it to steep for 20-30 minutes as well. Then just mix it, strands and all into 150g of extra thick double cream. 

Serve the two together with a sprig of mint. 

*** any left over strawberries make a fantastic breakfast with my nutty coconut granola and a heap of Greek yoghurt ***

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Merguez-spiced Peppers and Chickpeas with a Fried Egg topping

Hubby-to-be was out for his leaving do last night (we’re moving away from Wales in T minus 19 days – eek!) so I was left on my own for supper with a post-holiday fridge... A particularly sad creature populated by the usual jars of foodie potions, some limp looking veg that was at some point a green leafy thing, a piece of now rather smelly cheese and a couple of bizarrely well preserved peppers. So peppers for supper it is then!

When I’ve got a core ingredient I often find myself scouring the internet or the index pages of the cook book library I seem to be ‘accidentally’ assembling. Today I found inspiration from my two favourite chefs…

Nigel Slater made a lovely dish from lentils and chickpeas that made use of my favourite of chilli pastes on his show. And then I got to thinking about a stuffed pepper recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Veg Everyday where the poblano variety is packed with a chickpeas loaded with merguez spices.

Both of these fine recipes have served as inspiration for the recipe below, the use of hearty chickpeas is wonderfully filling on a tired Monday evening and the merguez spices and harissa provided a touch of warmth. Topped with an egg you really can’t go wrong (as always my philosophy is that there are few foodstuffs that are not improved by an egg on the top).

Merguez-spiced peppers and chickpeas with a fried egg topping
Serves 2 or 4 with bread

1 small onion
A glug of olive oil
2 peppers (any colour but I like the sweetness of red and yellow varieties) cut into chunky strips
1 clove garlic
1 400g tin of chickpeas – drained
1 400g tin of tomatoes
2 tsp harissa paste (or more if you’re after a spicy hit of chilli)
1 tsp each of cumin and coriander
½ tsp each of fennel seeds (caraway would also work), paprika (sweet preferably but smoked is lovely too if not hugely traditional) and sumac
¼ tsp cinnamon (feel free to put in more but Hubby-to-be isn't really a fan so I try not to be too liberal with this particular spice)
A squeeze of lemon
An egg per person
Fresh coriander leaves for scattering

Gently fry the onion with a sprinkle of salt in a wide pan then as they soften add the strips of pepper. Keep the oil sizzling on the heat for 7-10 minutes, agitating the peppers as you go.

When they start to soften go in with the garlic, harissa and spices; keeping the mixture moving over the heat for a further minute.

Now pour in the chickpeas and make sure they are well coated with the spice mix, follow this up with the tin of tomatoes, season and bring the pan to a simmer. Let the juices bubble for 15 minutes or so. It will have thickened and the contents cooked should be through. The length of time depends largely on the chickpea brand, some will take 10 minutes and others 20. 

When the chickpeas are soft but before they turn to mush squeeze in the lemon juice and check the seasoning. 

Meanwhile, fry or poach an egg for each diner. Serve the chickpea/pepper mix with an egg atop and a scattering of coriander leaves.

*** You may notice a distinct lack of starchy carbs. It’s completely intentional, I just thought that there was plenty to fill up just little ole me without it. You could of course add some crusty bread to mop up all the lovely juices, or perhaps wrap it up in a tortilla, sort of huevos rancheros meets shakshuka.