Friday, July 12, 2013

Couscous with Oven-Dried Tomatoes - IHCC Fruit-full!

We're starting to see beautifully ripe and juicy local tomatoes, one of the glorious fruits of summer, so I put them to use in Couscous and Mograbiah with Oven-Dried Tomatoes for I Heart Cooking Club's Fruitfull theme, with featured chef, Yotam Ottolenghi.
Whole Grain and Israeli Couscous with Oven-Dried Tomatoes and Labneh
This is one of those multi-component dishes that seems to be typical of this chef but like most of these types of recipes, many of the parts can be made in advance.

The first element was the tomatoes, roasted with a little sugar and balsamic vinegar. I had them in the oven for over 2 1/2 hours but ran out of time; they weren't as dry as they should have been so my dish was more like couscous with oven-roasted tomatoes!
Oven-"dried" tomatoes
The second component was onions, fried crisp and golden brown, which were responsible for much of the flavour of the couscous.

Finally, there were the 2 types of couscous to be cooked: I used Israeli couscous instead of mograbiah, which is cooked like pasta, and whole grain couscous that was steamed in saffron-infused stock.

All of these ingredients were combined with some fresh herbs and a sprinkle of nigella seeds.
The final touch was labneh, a thick, tangy yogurt. I decided to try my hand at making it. It was easy but did require a few days, though it was mainly waiting time. I used only cow's milk yogurt and set it up as per the recipe, wrapped in cheesecloth and suspended over a bowl. After 2 days and an additional day of refrigeration, it was soft but firm enough to shape. It had a wonderful, intense yogurt tang and I particularly liked it rolled in dried mint and pepper.
Labneh in olive oil and rolled in dried mint and pepper
I must admit, this wasn't my favourite dish. With the tomatoes and labneh, (both were delicious!), I was expecting something that was brighter and more summery. The finished dish was quite rich, flavoured primarily by the fried onions, saffron and nigella seeds, robust flavours that seemed to lend themselves more to a dish that's served hot.......perhaps I would have enjoyed it more that way.

Additional notes: 
- a half recipe made a huge amount which easily served 4 as a meal or 6-8 as a side. 
- I used 30ml olive oil (for cooking the onions and tomatoes only) instead of 75ml for a 1/2 recipe and that was enough.

The recipes for Couscous and Mograbiah with Oven-Dried Tomatoes and Labneh are from the book Ottolenghi: The Cookbook


kitchen flavours said...

Hi Zosia,
Even though this is not your favourite dish, it does look delicious and the roasted tomatoes must have tasted really nice. Your labneh looks really good!

Mairi said...

Hi Zosia, I think this dish sounds wonderful, I am now craving some slow roasted tomatoes & Summer! And the labneh rolled in mint? Yes please :)

Kim said...

I'm sorry to hear this wasn't your favorite dish. It certainly looks stunning on the plate with all of the colors and all. I think what makes Ottolenghi's recipes interesting is all the components he uses in a recipe (of course this is also time-consuming as well). I've never seen a picture of labneh before and I'd be very interested to try it. I can see why you chose this recipe. It's certainly beautiful!

Deb in Hawaii said...

Bummer that this wasn't a favorite--it certainly sounds good. I love labneh and love how you have it dusted with the herbs--such a pretty photo! ;-)

Couscous & Consciousness said...

Zosia, your dish looks stunning. Shame it wasn't your favourite. I can imagine this dish tasting great warm, and I'd certainly like to try it that way. I really enjoy the way many Ottolenghi dishes often require a number of components, but great that so much of that can be prepared ahead, making the final dish really just a very simple assembly job. I really have to try making the labneh, and rolled in mint sounds delicious.

Couscous & Consciousness said...

Hi Zosia, I'm currently doing the Monthly Community Recipe round-up of harissa posts for I Heart Cooking Clubs, and setting our next challenge which is going to be making and using labneh. I was wondering if it would be possible to use your gorgeous labneh photo in this post, with appropriate credit given of course. If it's ok, I'd appreciate you letting me know at yoga(dot)tapas(at)gmail(dot)com.
Many thanks