We all know the situation ... You've just finished preparing dinner for two, when all of a sudden a couple of friends drop by. Before you know it the words "Would you like to stay for dinner?" have fallen from your lips and, horror of horrors, your friends said "We'd love to". Now how to stretch that meal from a two-person feed to something satisfying for four people.
Now, that's not what actually happened to me here, though this is a dish that could easily be stretched to feed a couple of extra mouths with the simple addition of some extra eggs and a bit of flat bread on the side.
No, my problem was, being a little time deprived at the moment, finding a way to stretch one post to cover several bases.
I needed to "Paint the Town Red" with some red foods for this week's theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs.
Plus, I also needed to make and feature some harissa for this month's community recipe at I Heart Cooking Clubs.
I'd bookmarked this recipe from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem: A Cookbook ages ago, and now it seemed to tick all the boxes for me. It uses preserved lemons - tick; there are tomatoes and red meat (lamb) = red food - tick; and it uses harissa - final tick. Talk about a win:win.
Now many ingredients in the original recipe are out of season here right now - decent tomatoes, peppers for making harissa, fresh herbs, etc. Fortunately, when such things are plentiful I slow roast tomatoes in big batches and freeze them. I also make big batches of both regular harissa and green harissa which I also stash in the freezer.
Preserved lemons are something that I make loads of at this time of year, and then replenish my supply a couple of times during the year. So this recipe turned out to really be a relatively simple assembly of a whole lot of my store cupboard ingredients - I love dishes that come together in this way.
I made a couple of small changes to this recipe. I used leek instead of onion, as they are usually the allium of choice in this household, and also because I got a good deal on a big bunch of leeks at the market last week. The original recipe called for the inclusion of both pistachios and pine nuts, but given the price of pine nuts and the deliciousness of pistachios, I decided to leave out the pine nuts and double the quantity of pistachios. I also added in a little Sami's Kitchen za'atar, just because I love it. The original recipe called for finishing with fresh coriander or zhoug (a paste made with fresh coriander and parsley, green chillies, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and garlic), for which I thought my green harissa would be a perfect substitute.
This dish was quick and easy to put together, and if those extra guests decide to stay for dinner, you could easily pad this out with extra eggs, chunks of roasted eggplant, a tin of chickpeas or canellini beans - the possibilities are endless. As I've come to expect from Ottolenghi, this dish is an absolute explosion of wonderful flavours and textures - soft, sweet lamb; crunchy nuts; sweet/salty hits of preserved lemon; a bit of heat from the harissa; sweet, juicy tomatoes; tangy, tahini-spiked yoghurt; and oozy, gooey eggs. When I told you that last week's Hummus Kawarma with Lemon Sauce was "one of the most sensational things you can put in your mouth", I wasn't joking and I didn't think that dish could be eclipsed. But I think this dish may have just edged it out and become my favourite Ottolenghi dish, ever ... so far. Hope you'll give this a try.
Incidentally, wondering how else you might use some of those preserved lemons or harissa? Check out some of these other great recipes.
Watermelon & Feta Salad with Preserved Lemon Dressing
Pasta with Sardines
Moroccan Chermoula Fish Kebabs with Couscous
Green Harissa Paste
Italian Sausage with Gnocchi & Red Peppers
Roasted Aubergine, Green Olive & Mizithra Salad
Fish & Caper Kebabs with Burnt Aubergine & Quick Pickled Lemons
Celeriac, Lentil & Hazelnut Salad
Now on with the recipe ...
Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini & Sumac Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Serves 2 as a substantial meal on its own
Serves 4 as a smaller meal with sides
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
3x oven-roasted tomatoes, or 1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes
1x leek, halved lengthwise, washed, then thinly sliced crosswise
4x cloves garlic, thinly sliced
300g lamb shoulder, minced
2 teaspoons sumac
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon za'atar
salt & black pepper
2x generous handfuls roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon harissa paste (store-bought would be fine)
1/2 preserved lemon, flesh discarded & skin finely diced
1 cup chicken stock
4x free-range eggs
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon tahini
juice of half lemon
1 tablespoon water
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon green harissa, or handful fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
If using fresh cherry tomatoes, heat a small, cast iron, grill pan over high heat until very hot. Add the tomatoes and cook over high heat, for about 4-5 minutes, until starting to blacken on the outside. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat a generous slosh of olive oil in a heavy based fry pan over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and garlic to the pan and saute, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften and turn slightly golden. Add the lamb to the pan, increase the heat slightly, and cook for a further 5 minutes or so, until the lamb is browned. Add the sumac, cumin, za'atar, pinch of flaky sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Stir to make sure everything is well coated with all the seasonings, and cook for a further minute. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped pistachios, harissa paste and preserved lemon. This dish could be prepared ahead up to this stage.
Return the pan to the heat, adding the tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, make four small wells in the mixture, and break an egg into each well. Cover the pan, and continue to cook over low heat until the egg whites are set but the yolk is still runny - about 5 minutes.
While the eggs are cooking, make the yoghurt sauce by mixing all the ingredients together and whisking until smooth. Mixture should be quite thick, but thin with a little more water if it's too thick.
Once eggs are cooked, remove pan from heat, dot dollops of the yoghurt sauce over the top, sprinkle over a little sumac, and finish with a drizzle of green harissa or sprinkling of fresh coriander.
If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Jerusalem and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.
I am also sharing this post at Tasting Jerusalem, a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ten Speed Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com, following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, and liking our Facebook page.
And, just because I really like to spread the love around, I'm also sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, and very amusing, Michelle at Ms. enPlace.