Sunday, August 24, 2008

Harissa-Marinated Seitan Skewers over Apple-Mint Cous Cous with Toasted Almonds (V)

Ahhh...a day off. I got 6 miles in this morning and spent the rest of the day hanging out with The Wife doing a whole bunch of nothing. It was wonderful. We had lunch at Mayuri, our favorite Indian buffet. The vegetable korma, mushroom marsala, and aloo gobi fry are pretty standard offerings on Mayuri's lunch buffet, and they are surely hard to beat even when ordering off the menu at other Indian joints. The Wife always ends the meal with a  healthy dose of the sweet milk pudding which contains noodles, tapioca, vanilla, and spices. TCV has no room for such frivolities when there are curried vegetables to be eaten. Bellies full and wanderlust in our hearts, we decided to venture into new territory. 

Our friend Michael has been talking up the Winchester Farmer's Market, so we decided to check it out. You, dear reader, have to go. We were greeted at the door by a huge loudspeaker blaring Mexican pop music; additionally, it was lashed to a metal post with chains. The party atmosphere was clear from the get-go. The store itself is damn near as big as a Costco, and full of exotic fruits, vegetables, and strange housewares. We spent the better part of an hour searching the aisles, reading labels, and squinting at foodstuffs we had never seen before in an effort to figure out what it was and if we could use them. The great thing is that wares from many cultures are available all in one place, making for easy Saturday shopping. The pink quinceanera decorations dotting the front wall, the decorated plastic-jug checkout lane lights, a housewares section emblazoned "GLORY AND BEAUTY," box upon box of fluorescent, grinning piggy banks, and the tearstained babies mollified by giant chocolate lollipops in their carts -- all of this stuff to see adds to the raucous experience that is this market. We left with a 5-foot section of sugar cane, eight spiny rambutans, fresh green dates, rice flour, white peppercorns, an aloe vera drink, a scarlet piece of dragon fruit, 3 huge portobello mushrooms, Mexican crema, a pound of pine nuts, and some bamboo skewers. 

Later, we snacked on baby heirloom tomatoes that I mixed with fresh basil from the garden, capers, buffalo mozzarella, olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar and served with toast points. I recall thinking that I was really going to miss all of this freshness when winter finally arrives.

The only thing from the market that made it to the dinner table was the skewers. It was getting late, so TCV decided to do something simple for dinner: harissa marinated seitan skewers over cous cous.

For the marinade:

2 tablespoons harissa
olive oil
juice from 1 lemon

Mix all ingredients. You will just need enough olive oil to dilute the harissa/ lemon juice mixture to a salad dressing-like consistency. 

For the skewers:

1 package "chicken style" seitan
4-6 bamboo skewers

Thread the seitan onto the skewers; brush with the harissa marinade. Throw them on a medium-hot grill until desired doneness is achieved.

For the cous cous:

1 box of Near East roasted garlic and olive oil cous cous.
1 apple (cut into a large dice)
1/4 cup whole almonds (toasted)
1/4 cup mint (chopped)
Cook the cous cous according to package instructions and then fold in the rest of the ingredients. Spoon apple-mint cous cous into the center of a platter, then top with the seitan skewers, a bit more mint, and chives. The whole dish takes about ten minutes from start to finish, which leaves me time to do more important things like figure out what the hell I'm going to do with 5 feet of sugar cane. Any takers?

3 comments:

Michael Hughes said...

I love that place! Did you see the fresh curry leaf? I wanted the dried cuttlefish, preserved lemon & just about everything else!

Bianca said...

Yum! I gotta go to this farmer's market! Susan mentioned it to me once, but I forgot about it. It sounds fabulous!

Cherie said...

This sounds so good; I love harissa!