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Thursday
Aug312017

Artichoke pilaf with olives and almonds

This Ottolenghi dish was recommended by the now vegan Marieke Hardy from the Tuesday Book Club in the Good Food paper. I served it as a vegetarian option alongside many dishes at a birthday party and it was the winner of the night. I served it at another big dinner party, and again it was the winner. There is something about it - the way the flavours intermingle and the comfort food of large couscous.
So here it is. It is so easy once all the ingredients are prepared, that I sometimes measure them all up into tubs and travel with it ready to make in any kitchen. Knowing it will be a winner.
Lastly, that green chilli sauce goes with everything! 

Pictured: Artichoke pilaf with olives and almonds


300g artichoke hearts
2 medium onions, thinly sliced for caramelising
20g unsalted butter
250g Israeli Couscous or fregola, rinsed and drained
600ml boiling vegetable stock
1 ½ tbsp red wine vinegar
60g Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
60g flaked almonds, toasted
30g parsley chopped
Salt and pepper
Green Chilli Sauce
2 green chillies, roughly chopped and deseeded if you do not want it too spicy
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 small preserved lemon, use the skin only i.e. deseeded, roughly chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp mild extra virgin olive oil
30g parsley chopped, or half parsley and coriander
Firstly make the green chilli sauce by blitzing all ingredients together. 
Prepare all the ingredients for the dish ready in advance.
In a large pan or casserole pot with a lid, start to caremelise the onions by adding them with a pinch of salt to the pan, stir on medium heat for 10 minutes until nicely browned with lots of flavour.
You can have this ready well in advance with the ingredients measured out, then knowing the rest of the dish takes around 30 minutes you can time when to follow on further. 
Add the butter and let it melt, then add the artichokes, Israeli couscous/fregola, hot stock and some pepper – give it all one big stir together then cover with the lid and turn heat down to low. Cook 18 minutes. Do not open the lid or stir, allow the liquid to absorb and the stirring will bring out too much starch. After the 18 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes, do not open the lid still, let it rest and absorb the remaining liquid.
Remove the lid, add the red wine vinegar, olives, and half the parsley, and give it a gentle mix.
Place in a serving dish, scatter with the almonds and remaining parsley.
The dish can be served either warm or at room temperature, with the chilli sauce drizzled over or on the side.
Serves 4 as a main, or 8 as a side dish