This dish showcases what spices can do when used simply and sparingly. It’s a high-impact and authentic version of a hearty, Moroccan dish. Though couscous is often used as an accompaniment I’d pick bulgur wheat every time – particularly when the juicy grains are simmered in chicken stock. It’s a humble dish, but plates up so beautifully and makes a beautiful center piece.
Gizzi Erskine’s Root vegetable bulgur wheat “couscous” style, with Merguez sausages
3 tbsp olive oil
8 Merguez sausages
2 large onions, cut into eighths
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp Rooted Spices Tellicherry Black Pepper
½ tsp Rooted Spices Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Rooted Spices Ground Cumin
1 tsp Rooted Spices Hot Smoked Paprika
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
1.5 pints of fresh chicken or vegetable stock
2 turnips, peeled and quarted
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 3
2 large courgettes, halved lengthways and each cut into 3
For the bulgur wheat
250g bulgur wheat
500ml vegetable stock
Pinch of salt
½ lemon, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
Handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
Begin by soaking the chickpeas for at least an hour but up to 12. Transfer them into a pan of cold salted water. Cover, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for an hour and a half.
About 50 minutes into the chickpeas cooking time, start making the stew. Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, or until they have softened and started to go golden. Add the garlic and chillies for the last minute of cooking.
Add the salt, spices, bay leaves and thyme sprigs and cook for a further minute. Pour over the stock, then add the turnips, carrots and courgettes. Cover with a lid and cook at a fast simmer for 25 minutes. Once the chickpeas are cooked through but maintaining a firm bite, add them in for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
To make the bulgur wheat, tip the grain into a saucepan and cover with stock. Cook on a fast simmer for 10 minutes until all the stock has evaporated. Transfer into a large bowl and mix through the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and herbs.
Finally, cook the sausages: heat a glug of oil in a frying pan and get it really hot. Fry your sausages up for about 10 minutes, turning regularly so they are browned evenly on all sides.
To serve, spread the bulgur wheat over a large platter, and spoon out the vegetables and chickpeas, along with all the liquid, over the top. Arrange the sausages across it and tuck in!
It’s widely-acknowledged that turmeric is steeped in health-giving properties, but it’s not always an easy spice to cook with. Poor quality turmeric can be astringent