Chilli Pesto and Beetroot and Pomegranate Salad
Well, as Thursday 26 January is Burns Night I was going to supply a recipe for Haggis, the traditional supper complete with neeps and tatties. However, since sheep’s lung and stomach for the casing is unavailable in the market, short of buying a whole sheep in the souk and even then, something beyond most kitchens, I decided on something else, more practical for most kitchens. For those of a Scottish persuasion or those happy to celebrate Scotland’s iconic poet, Robert Burns, I give you the first and last verses of his Address to a Haggis.
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.
Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis
For those who fancy spicing up their life, chilli pesto is a handy condiment to have, a little goes a long way and worth making in a quantity and freezing for future use. LuLu in Salmiya is my go-to place for chillies as they usually have a good variety and importantly they have serranos, a hottish chilli that also has a great flavour. My chilli ratio was ¾ ‘normal’ long red chillies, ¼ serranos and 2 jalapenos that needed using up. The finished pesto I use in a variety of dishes; chilli con carne or anything with plum tomatoes that needs a little flavour boost. Obviously, everyone has their unique, personal tolerance for heat, so multiple permutations of chillies can be used to have a milder or hotter end result.
1 kg chilli (varieties as explained above)
250 g walnuts
Ras el hanout (North African spice mix)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pomegranate molasses (optional)
Wash and roughly chop the chillies. Add coarse salt and olive oil. Either put in a blender or grind in a pestle and mortar. Grind the walnuts into a powder along with some salt pepper and spices and herbs. Mix in the powder with the chilli adding a dash of Pomegranate molasses and adding some more olive oil. The amount you add should achieve a working paste, so it’s a case of judgement of not too little and not too much to make it a liquid.
Let the completed paste rest overnight so the the flavours develop. Next day, put the mix on a low heat and stir once in a while until the mixture is warm (being careful not to overheat the pesto!); this operation will allow the aromas/flavours to diffuse and it also pasteurizes the pesto. Once complete, check for seasoning/see if satisfied with the amount of olive oil. Then use and/or make into portions for freezing into batches for future use.
Beetroot and Pomegranate Salad
This is a delightfully simple, yet very pleasant salad I encountered in Bahrain, though I suspect the origin to be Persian. I have added roughly crushed walnuts and pitta bread croutons (as mentioned in last week’s recipe for Lentil Soup), for some added crunch and texture.
1 Pomegranate deseeded
Juice from 2 lemons
I roasted the peeled beetroot for about an hour, I find it enhances the sweetness of the beet. Allow to cool completely and dice into very tiny cubes.
Toss in the pomegranate seeds, roughly torn coriander, walnuts and croutons.
Combine the lemon juice, molasses, olive oil and salt into a dressing and pour over the salad.
Toss the salad and serve.
As they say in Iran, Nooshejan!