Over the past month we have had a house guest stay with us: Nic's sister Liz. And although a month is a long time to have another body in our small, one bedroom apartment, we are all still, happily, the best of friends.
Now cooking for three is hardly more challenging than cooking for two. However, Liz has developed some dietry sensitivities from a spending a year traveling throughout South America. Cooking for someone on a strict diet can certainly test your creativity.
Following her South American sojourn, Liz arrived in Vancouver rather weary. Her adventures had taken their toll and she was in dire need of some healthy and simple food. After consulting a naturopath and much self-diagnosis, Liz began a strict diet to cut out yeast, wheat, sugar and most dairy products. In some respects, we began the diet too as it was just easier to cook the same meal for all three of us.
And so began the challenge of coming up with exciting meals to make the diet less of a bore. All I can say is: thank god for mashed pumpkin (potatos were out), and lemons, garlic and olive oil (which, it turns out, make a sauce and dressing for almost anything).
Liz left us today to start the next leg of her exciting journey in New York and although her departure leaves a hole in my heart. I must admit I am very excited about the prospect filling the hole in my stomach with a big plate of spaghetti bolognese with huge lashings of parmigiano reggiano, followed by a massive bowl of dark chocolate and orange gelato! Sorry, Liz.
Ok, now for the featured recipe; a Moroccan Shrimp Salad that I adapted from a recipe on cuisine.com.au. The salad consisted of a delicious blend of leaves, coriander, mint, Italian parsley, baked onions and fennel and shrimps. I marinated the shrimps in a fragrant mixture of olive oil, paprika, harissa and sumac, the last two I bought from South China Trading Seas in Vancouver.
Harissa is a paste used in North Africa and the Middle East made of chilis, coriander, garlic, olive oil, cumin and sometimes dried mint. Sumac, pictured below, is a deep red, coarsely ground powder, made from the petals and berries of a shrub that originated in Turkey. It has a sour and slightly bitter flavour that is often mixed with water and used in place of lemon juice.
I topped the salad with a Pyrenees sheep's milk feta (which, thankfully, Liz could eat). This lush cheese has a very mild, creamy taste that we have become addicted to over the past few weeks and was one treat that Liz relished when she could. Instead of giving Liz anything with balsamic vinegar on it, I instead used either just lemon juice or in this case, a dressing of olive oil and grapefruit juice and black pepper.
I am submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted this week by Rinku from Cooking in Westchester.
Moroccan Shrimp Salad Recipe
20-25 small fresh shrimp, shelled & deveined
4 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of Hungarian paprika
1 tsp of harissa
1 tsp of sumac
1/2 tsp of sea salt
A pinch of all-spice & freshly ground black pepper
3 red onions, peeled & quartered
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 tbs of balsamic vinegar
2 cups of chopped red cabbage
1 cup of flat leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup of mint
1/2 cup of coriander
100 gm of sheep's milk feta
Balsamic vinegar (or for Liz freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice)
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the onion quarters and fennel slices in a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
- Meanwhile, mix together 2 tbs of olive oil, paprika, harissa, sumac, salt, pepper and a pinch of all-spice into a medium bowl. Add the shrimp and coat well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
- In a large bowl add the cabbage, witlof and fresh herbs. Mix well and set aside.
- In a non-stick fry pan, heat a little olive oil over a medium heat and cook the shrimp for about a minute or two. Set aside.
- Remove the fennel and onion from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and olive oil to the salad and then toss the leaves. Top with onion quarters, fennel slices and shrimp and then crumble on the feta.