This headline in The Guardian caught my eye –
Rules for a happy life : never look under a teenager’s bed and never clear out your kitchen cupboards.
Obviously, I’m in complete alignment on keeping a wide berth around teenagers’ beds but to never clear out your kitchen cupboards – now that really is a step too far. I can see where Jay Rayner is coming from … he talks of being brought face to face with all his unrealized ambitions as a domestic cook when he discovers jars of preserved lemons and pots of harissa paste – many where the seal hadn’t even been broken.
But here’s another way of looking at it –
So leave the guilt behind and get on with using all the treasures that you might find behind the jar of Marmite. That’s why I love a good kitchen cupboard clear out. And it provides a satisfying ‘before and after’ too and you might remember that I’m rather partial to one of those.
Having a good clear out is topical for me right now as I’ve spent the last couple of weeks staying with my parents and helping them to do a bit of de-cluttering. Maybe hoarding skips a generation. My grandmother wasn’t a hoarder and neither am I. But my parents? Now that’s another story.
Three skips down and we’ve made great progress – nowhere more satisfying than in the kitchen cupboards because – REPEAT AFTER ME –
You can’t use what you have, unless you know what you have …
Now I left my parents with some bossy signs on their cupboard doors to remind them of specific food mountains that exist within their own home but I’m also warming to #2 teenage son’s idea of linking in to the CCTV in their local supermarket so that we can bellow over the loud speaker, “PUT THE TINNED SWEETCORN DOWN” when they go wayward with the food shopping and get tempted to buy something that they already own.
On the upside, their home is the place to be when the next apocalypse hits. They have a basement too.
So, if you decide to risk a kitchen cupboard clear out and find yourself, like Jay Rayner, faced with a pot or three of harissa paste … check that pesky expiry date (time flies in the pantry world), and then crack open that unbroken seal and dive into this wonderful recipe for Harissa Ravioli, to celebrate all that is good about harissa.
It’s inspired by a dish in Heidi Swanson’s ‘Super Natural Every Day’ book (her of 101cookbooks fame) but I’ve adapted it to make it popular with the whole family.
Of course I would never suggest that you make your own ravioli – life’s too short and all that – but having a gutsy harissa and tomato oil to drizzle over the top and a few bits and bobs to toss through those pasta parcels will turn a staple from the supermarket chilled section into a delicious mid-week dinner.
So here are 8 reasons why you’ll like this Harissa Ravioli … with or without a clear out beforehand –
- It’s a perfect dish for getting everything ready in advance. Mix the oil and prep the vegetables earlier in the day and then you’ll be able to throw it all together in 15 minutes or so. Spot on after a long day.
- Swap the vegetables for whatever you have in the fridge (particularly if you are trying to use what you already have) – just be sure that they lend themselves to stir frying or steaming.
- Swapping the feta cheese for a little shredded, cooked chicken also works well here.
- Any leftovers are great in a packed lunch the next day.
- The harissa oil is perfect to give the ravioli a touch of moisture but it’s a pleasant change not to swamp it with a heavy sauce.
- Choose whichever flavour of ravioli you fancy
- Ravioli has a long shelf life, so you can keep a few packs in the fridge for emergency dinners.
- Goes down well with the whole family.
Go on get rummaging through the kitchen cupboards. Who knows what you’ll find …
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- ½ tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp harissa paste
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 6 tbsps olive oil
- pinch of salt
- 300g (10oz) broccoli, cut into small florets
- 150g (5oz) fine green beans or sugar snaps
- 250g (8oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 500g (1lb) ravioli
- 80g (3oz) Feta cheese
- a handful of spicy pumpkin seeds (optional)
- First prepare the harissa oil by combining the garlic, lemon juice, harissa, tomato puree, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a jar with a lid. Give it a good shake so that everything is thoroughly mixed and taste to check the seasoning.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil ready for the ravioli.
- Now either stir-fry or steam the broccoli and the beans until they are just cooked - a bit of a bite is good here.
- Now cook the ravioli in the boiling water according to the packet instructions (this will normally take 1-2 minutes). Drain thoroughly and tip the ravioli onto a large serving platter. Toss gently with the broccoli, beans and the cherry tomatoes.
- Drizzle with some of the harissa oil (retaining the rest for people to add it themselves) and sprinkle the Feta cheese and the spicy pumpkin seeds over the top.