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Quick Meal - Gnocchi with Shrimp in Harissa Sauce

Quick Meal - Gnocchi with Shrimp in Harissa Sauce

The thing in this dish is really the garlicky harissa sauce that gives it the warmth that otherwise is the domain of a cheese sauce. Smashed garlic and generous teaspoon of harissa slowly infuses the oil in which the shrimp is cooked and then add pasta and arugula blanched in the pasta water and you are gold!

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Cold Weather Comfort: Rosemary scented Harissa Beef and Lentil Stew

Harissa and Rosemary Beef & Lentil Stew

Someone, somewhere seems to have a vendetta with the North East US. We seem to have become quite the dumping ground for the impetuousness of our weather mother. Nary a week passes by without a severe weather warning in the horizon. In the last three weeks, we have had two snow storms, one leaving behind a mountain of white fluff and the other a hill, but still something to talk about!

The thing is, I think snow is beautiful, I mean to the point of breathtaking... as it is coming down. Or, if you are one of those catch-the-dawn kind of people, then perhaps, you get to witness it's ethereal beauty before it gets sullied by the reality of life.

Harissa and Rosemary Beef Stew

I look out my window as the light, delicate (sometimes clumps) flurries sway down and it triggers happy thoughts... of pristine landscapes, of dogs running happy in the white stuff, of wearing my sexy new hounds tooth pattern rain boots, of warm, comforting meals and if I pause philosophically, of fresh starts and clean slates...

Then come morning and in the light of day, the romantic thoughts are obliterated by real people and real vehicles trudging through the snow and turning it into grey and then black slush. Not to mention that the slush remains for many days, because the city has political turmoil! Dear elected representatives, please get your priorities right. Clean first, quibble later!

Photo Courtsey: CBS News

Nevertheless, even as the perfect white ground is obliterated with many many black tire tracks and icy slush and mutinous thoughts about city governance prey on your mind, you can atleast take solace in that warm, comforting meal you were planning.

Winter typically brings on cravings for stews and soups. Recently, I decided to go a bit light on the carbs. So, I have been thinking of ways to make a filling meal that does not depend heavily on a carb compenent to furnish that satisfied feeling. In walk, Lentils. Rich in protein, taste fabulous, and intensely satisfying to boot!

And nothing says comforting better than a good, hearty beef stew. Mine has an extra kick from the harissa marinated beef and the addition of rosemary infuses the stew with becoming earthiness!

Beef stew bowl

I have my bowl of stew ready. Now, I just need a blanket and good book and I am all set to brave a storm, whenever it wants to rattle my window!

Rosemary scented Harissa Beef and Lentil Stew

1/2 lb beef brisket, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 T harissa
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp vinegar
salt to taste

3/4 cup lentils
3 cups stock
3 carrots, peeled and diced into 3/4 inch chunks
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic
3 small sprigs of rosemary (about 2 T), tied together
salt and pepper as needed

Soak the lentils for an hour in warm water.

Mix together the salt, harissa, vinegar and cumin and coat the beef cubes evenly with the mixture. Let the meat marinate in the fridge for atleast an hour. When ready, saute half the diced onion in oil until soft. Add the meat and brown evenly. Add 1/2 cup of stock. At this point, you can transfer to a pressure cooker and cook for about 20 minutes or 7-8 whistles. If you are cooking in a regular pan, cook on medium heat until the meat is done. Add water as liquids are needed.

Meanwhile, saute the remaining onions and garlic in another pan in oil. Add the carrots and saute for a minute. Drain the lentils and add to the mixture along with the rosemary and remaining stock. Over low heat, cook the lentils until almost done.

Combine the lentils with the beef mixture and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Let the stew rest for 15 or so minutes and then it's ready to serve. You can fish out the rosemary at this point, if you want to.

Beef stew cup

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