Grocery shopping is something I would consider one of my hobbies. When I have a few extra hours in the day, I usually spend about 10 minutes trying to think of an excuse to go to a grocery store, then I spend the next pocket of time perusing the aisles, smelling produce, and hunting around for something unique to take home. I would also call it a skill. I make mental notes of who has the best herbs that week, what price the potatoes are, and how fresh the meat looks. These pieces of grocer information get stored away until my next pocket of a few hours, where I promptly go to whatever store has won me over with my memory of their selection of exotic cured meats, or their bouquet-worthy tarragon.
My last visit to one of my favorites was a few weeks ago. I had errands to do and a meeting in Portland, so I stopped in to Barbur World Foods. I had eaten a doughnut, but that was hours ago. I’m hungry, which is a dangerous place to be when I walk into a grocery store. When I asked a lady stocking shelves which brand of dolmas was the best she said, “You mean other then the ones in our deli?” Deli!? My mind must have been elsewhere. I retraced my steps. Yep, how did I walk by and not look at that giant glass case?
I ask for eight dolmas, half vegetarian and half meat. While the tall guy behind the counter was getting my order, I spied a rustic looking salad in the case. “Excuse me, what’s in this salad? That spice, I’ve never heard of it. Rahz eel han out?” I stumble through it, suddenly self-conscious. He chuckled and said “Yea, that’s a hard one for me too. (I noticed he avoided repeating it) It’s like a blend of spices, like a curry powder, everyone makes it a little different.” Oooh. I was intrigued. I ordered some of the salad too and went off down the spice aisle looking for this Ras el Hanout.
Later, at home, I dug into the salad. It was a little sweet, with the carrots and the onions, and then a warm spicy heat that slowly built on itself, but wasn’t overpowering. I was addicted! I especially loved the large leaves of flat leaf parsley.
I had to know more about this Ras el Hanout. I guess it is like curry! There’s no definitive recipe for it, and it’s name means “head of the shop” or “top shelf” in Arabic. It’s used in North African and Moroccan dishes, and is often used on meats as a rub, in rice or in couscous. Don’t be too impressed with my knowledge, I learned it all from wikipedia.
This salad is easy, a little spicy, and perfect for a picnic because it’s really delicious at room temperature.
First, make the “rub.” Add the Ras el Hanout, some minced up garlic, ground ginger, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
Add in some olive oil and make a loose paste.
Chop up those veggies! I used a couple carrots, some parsnips, a medium red onion, some baby red potatoes and two small russet potatoes.
Drizzle the rub on the vegetables.
Toss them and rub in the spice mixture. It’s easiest to just get in there with your hands!
While the vegetables roast, get your parsley ready. You’ll need about a cup. I just pricked them off the stems and left a couple whole attached in small sprigs.
When the vegetables come out of the oven, they might need just a little more olive oil on them. Add in the parsley leaves and gently toss together.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
I hope you take a trip to Barbur Foods if you are in the Portland area, or try your own version of Ras el Hanout! Either way, enjoy your grocery shopping and try something new. Now I’m off to make a big bowl of popcorn with coconut oil and Ras el Hanout…
A couple of notes for success:
The key to nicely roasted vegetables is threefold (I’ve made a lot of bad roasted vegetables, so I learned these the hard way):
- Give them a good coating of oil, and if you are worried about them sticking you might as well oil the pan too. This is different for squash, which fairs better if you only oil the pan and not the squash itself (I find it gets too slimy if also coasted in oil, but that’s another blog post.)
- Allow for plenty of space on the sheet pan. Crowding too many vegetables onto one sheet pan is my downfall; don’t fall prey to this mistake.
- Do not try to stir them too soon before they’ve browned a bit on the bottom. Usually this is after 20 minutes of undisturbed roasting time.
I use sheet pans that have a 1″ side on all sides. I use them for just about everything, even cookies. I don’t see the point of side-less sheet pans (well, okay, maybe that’s an overstatement.) My favorite ones are made by Chicago Metallic and you can buy them at kitchen supply stores or here. They are technically called jelly roll pans.
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and each end trimmed off
- 3 very small russet potatoes (or 1 large)
- 8 small red potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional if needed for tossing
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to 425 with the racks placed in the middle and lower third positions.
- In a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic, Ras el Hanout, ginger, salt and pepper. Add in the olive oil, mixing to make a paste. Set aside.
- Wash all the vegetables well. Chop them into large chunks; the carrots and parsnips into 2” long spears, sliced in half lengthwise if they are thick, the onion into 1” wedges, the red potatoes cut in half and the russets cut into long, lengthwise 1” wedges. Divide the vegetables between two large sheet pans that have a 1” side on all sides.
- Drizzle the spice paste over the vegetables, dividing evenly between the two trays. With your hands, mix up each tray of vegetables with the paste well, literally rubbing the olive oil all over the surfaces of the vegetables, especially the potatoes. This will help them from sticking and loosing those delicious brown bits to the bottom of the sheet pan.
- Roast for 25 minutes, gently toss and rotate the sheet pans, top to bottom and front to back, then roast for another 10 minutes.
- Remove the pans of vegetables from the oven and let cool until warm or right around room temperature. Combine the vegetables onto one sheet pan, and sprinkle the parsley leaves over them. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil and toss.
- Serve at room temperature.
Ras el Hanout, Barbur World Foods, Portland OR.
Baking sheets, Chicago Metallic, Amazon