Herbs and spices are really your most powerful ingredient when preparing plant based meals. A couple of sprigs of this and a little shake of that can completely transform the same veggie combination from a rustic Mediterranean sun-kissed meal to an exotic Middle Eastern feast. I am somewhat of a spice collector. When all else fails and there is “nothing in the fridge” or I am craving something new and different I pull out my large spice box and begin to rummage.
We are spoilt for choice in Australia with groceries from all around the world. Our multicultural make up and close proximity to asia have led to an abundance of choice when it comes to herbs and spices. In Sydney we are lucky to have shops like Herbie’s and Gewürzhaus.
James topped up my dried herbs and spice cache recently with a wonderful gift which included dried Harissa. Originating from Tunisia this spice blend is mixed with water to make the iconic spicy paste. There are many variations of this spice but the one I used included: coriander, red bell peppers, salt, cumin, Kashmiri chilli, cayenne pepper, seedless chilli, hot chilli, garlic, caraway and mint.
- 1 leek
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- thumb size piece of ginger
- 1 teaspoon harissa spice blend
- 1 small or 1/2 large butternut pumpkin
- 1 medium eggplant
- 250ml coconut milk
- 500ml veggie stock
- 2 cups cooked black beans (or any other bean of your choice)
- parsley to garnish
- Thoroughly wash the leek and slice thinly.
- Sauté the leek with the coconut oil, in a heavy based pot, over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Peel the ginger by scraping the skin off with a teaspoon before chopping finely.
- Add the ginger to the pot along with the spices and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Peel and chop the pumpkin into 4cm cubes and add to the pot.
- Chop the eggplant into similar sized pieces and add as well.
- Add the coconut milk and veggie stock and gently bring to the boil.
- Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring gently occasionally, then add the black beans.
- Allow to simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft.
- Serve with rice, cous cous, cauliflower rice, quinoa or baked potatoes with a garnish or parsley.