Saffron Chermoula Orzo with Shrimp

 

 

Adapted from Chef Nargisse Benkabbou
New York Times, September 2022

Traditionally used to season seafood and vegetables, chermoula is a Moroccan marinade made of herbs and spices like cilantro, parsley, paprika and cumin. In this recipe, the orzo cooks in a combination of chermoula and stock, so the orzo is seasoned all the way through. In the last few minutes of cooking, just stir the shrimp into the orzo to cook, and you have a quick and easy, yet exciting, dinner. Feel free to use a protein of your choice instead of shrimp, but adjust cook times accordingly. Also, consider making a big batch of chermoula and keep it in the fridge to use as a marinade, a dressing on salads or a condiment for sandwiches.

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the Chermoula:
2 lemons
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ cup  Moroccan olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon granulated sugar

For the Orzo and Shrimp:
1/4 teaspoon good quality saffron threads
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup orzo
1½ cups chicken stock
¾ pound peeled and deveined medium to large shrimp, tails removed

Directions:
Take one half of the 1/4 tsp saffron threads and put them in a spice mortar. Grind the spice with a pestle to a powdery consistency. Add a second pinch of saffron threads to the mortar. Do not crush these threads.
Ground saffron threads in a mortar and pestle.

Pour 1/4 cup of hot water into the mortar. Set aside and let the saffron soak for 5 minutes. This will open up the flavor of the spice.

To Make the chermoula: Finely grate the zest from both lemons and set aside for serving, then, into a medium bowl, squeeze 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Stir in the cilantro, parsley, olive oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt and sugar and set aside until ready to use. (You can keep the chermoula in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.)

Prepare the orzo and shrimp: Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium-high until the butter is melted. Add the orzo and keep stirring until the orzo is lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Pour the yellow saffron liquid evenly across the top of the orzo.

Add in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until orzo starts to soften, about 10 minutes. If it looks like the orzo is too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan.

Cover the pot again until the orzo is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated, 4 to 6 minutes more. Turn off heat. Gently stir in the chermoula and shrimp. Stir, cover, let stand 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon juice if necessary.

Serve immediately, topped with the grated lemon zest.

Notes:

Moroccan olive oil has all of the health benefits of Italian, Greek, Spanish, Californian, and all other olive oils, including potential advantages for heart and brain health and cancer prevention. Made in the unique terroir surrounding the Atlas Mountains, Moroccan olive oil has a flavor all its own.  Once you have some Moroccan olive oil in your pantry, it’s a perfect time to delve into the delicious world of Moroccan cuisine. Try making some salads, a tagine, or a sweet and savory olive oil cake.

Shrimp needs only 2-3 minutes @ 185°F  to be perfectly cooked. Any time longer than that, you will get a rubbery protein.

Fresh herbs lose color  and  flavor when cooked.  In this recipe, they are best  when added at the end of the cooking time.


Caramelized Lemongrass Pork with Vermicelli Noodles

   

Lemongrass is a bright aromatic herb with a subtle citrus flavor native to India and tropical Asia. Here it, was used in a Thai-Vietnamese inspired dish to marinate pork giving it a lemony zingy taste. The stir fried pork was then served with a light salad of rice vermicelli (extra thin noodles), cucumber and carrot with mint and cilantro.

 

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 stalk lemongrass

1 shallot

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup (50 ml) fish sauce

2 – 3 teaspoons soy sauce  

2 tablespoons  brown sugar

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

12 ounces (360 grams) pork tenderloin or Two 4 oz Boneless Center Cut Pork Loin Chop, thinly sliced

8 ounces (240 grams) rice vermicelli noodles

Salt, to taste

6 cups (1L)  water

1/2  English cucumber

1 small bunch of mint

1 small bunch of cilantro

2 carrots

 

 

Directions:

To  Make Marinade

Rinse all fresh produce. Trim and discard lemongrass root and outer layer. Thinly slice stalk. Peel shallot and mince. Mince garlic. In a large resealable plastic bag (or a bowl), combine lemongrass, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.  If using a pork tenderloin, remove from the packaging and  rinse pork  with water and pat dry with paper towel. Cut crosswise into  1/2 inch (0.5cm) slices. Add pork to marinade in bag and shake to coat. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or overnight in fridge.  

 

To Cook the  Vermicelli

Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium pot (or kettle) over high heat. Place vermicelli in a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Soak until tender, about 6 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds. Set aside in a large bowl.  

 

Preparing  the Vegetables

Cut cucumber lengthwise into 1/2 inch ( 0.5cm ) slices, then juilienne each slice. Peel the carrots and cut lengthwise into  1/2 inch ( 0.5cm ) slices, then juilienne  Pick mint leaves discarding stems. Pick cilantro leaves discarding stems.  

 

To Cook the Pork

Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Remove pork from marinade, allowing excess to drip off and reserving marinade. When oil is shimmering, add pork, season lightly with salt, and cook until browned on bottom, 1 minute. Flip, season with salt, and add marinade to pan. Cook until pork is cooked through, 1 minute more.  

 

Season Vermicelli

Add cucumbers and shredded carrots to vermicelli in bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt.  

 

To Plate the Dish

Divide vermicelli and vegetables evenly between 2 bowls. Top with pork, spooning over sauce from pan. Garnish with mint and cilantro. Enjoy!  

Hello Friends!

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you!


Harissa Spiced Honey Roasted Chicken Thighs with Persimmons and Lemons

This spicy harissa and persimmon chicken is a little sweet, a little spicy, and packed with flavor! It’s the perfect one-skillet winter meal!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Marinade:
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1-4 teaspoons harissa dry seasoning or paste, to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Chicken:
4 to 5 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup white wine
1 large shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 to 4 fuyu persimmons, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary,finely minced
1/4 cup water

 

DIrections:
In a small bowl, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients. Place the chicken in a shallow dish or Ziploc bag, cover with the marinade and toss to coat. Let marinate for 1 hour at room temperature. For best results, allow the chicken marinate in the fridge overnight, just be sure to let it come to room temperature for an hour before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.Shake off excess marinade before searing the chickenm but do not wipe it all off as that’s what gives you the flavorful crust Sear the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side or until there is a golden brown crust. Remove from the skillet and place ona clean plate and set aside.

Pour in the wine to deglaze the skillet, then add in the thyme, rosemary, garlic shallots, persimmons and lemons. Add the water. Return the chicken back to the skillet and place the skillet in the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 160°F and the skin is crisped.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

Cook’s Notes:

Yogurt:
You can substitute the Greek yogust with plain full fat yogurt.

Chicken:
Chicken Breasts can be used in place of the chicken thighs, if desired.


Persimmons:
There are two main types of persimmons that you’re likely to see at the grocery store between October and Januray, hachiya and fuyu.

Hachiya persimmons are elongated and shaped like a heart or acorn, they are very astringent, like quince, before they are ripe You don’t want to eat them unless they are extremely soft to the touch (almost soupy on the inside).

Fuyu persimmons are shaped like a tomato like the ones above in the photo, and have a delicately sweet flavor similar to peaches. They can be eaten when they are still very firm and are still delicious when they soften.For this recipe, you would want them on the firmer side.

Note that persimmons that are very firm will last at home for about two weeks if stored in the crisper draw in the fridge.