On the Menu: A Tunisian-Inspired Valentine's Day

On the Menu: A Tunisian-Inspired Valentine's Day

Original Tried & True Recipe.

Valentine's Day is coming up and if you're like me, the thought of fighting the crowds to go out for dinner isn't the most romantic thing in the world. But, if you're also like me, you don't want to spend hours in front of the stove when you could be cuddling up with your sweetie instead. That's why I'm crafting two easy-to-prepare menus to get you through the day, without having to slave over the stove.
 

The menu featured in this post is for a Tunisian-Inspired Valentine's Day. These meals are easy and generally more affordable than a restaurant, plus is there anything more romantic than sharing a big pot of mussels with your boo? (Maybe there is, but not by my standards!)


TUNISIAN-INSPIRED VALENTINE'S DAY MENU

BRUNCH

Spicy Shakshuka

DINNER

Mussels with Merguez Sausage and White Wine

DESSERT

Tunisian Rose Water Marzipan Balls (Kaber Ellouz)


BRUNCH

Spicy Shakshuka

Serves: 2 (if you're really hungry!)
Cost: Approximately $5.37 per serving.*

GRADE

Cost: $
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 red bell pepper

1 medium onion

1 jalapeño

1 tablespoon harissa paste

2 14.5-ounce cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes

1/2 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of sugar

1/2 cup cilantro

4 eggs

Canola oil

Crusty, toasted bread for serving

METHOD

Prep Ingredients: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Thinly slice the red bell pepper and the jalapeño. Cut the onion in half lengthwise and then thinly slice each half. Mince the cilantro.

Heat a slick of canola oil in a medium skillet over medium high. Once very hot, add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly, until beginning to char around the edges and become very soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the harissa and stir to coat the vegetables in the paste. Add 1/2 cup of water and the diced tomatoes, stirring to incorporate the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. If your sauce is too thick, add a bit more water to thin it out. Taste and season with salt and pepper, and add a dash of sugar.

Stir in the cilantro and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Make 4 small wells in the sauce and gently crack the eggs into the wells. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the whites have set and the yolks are still a bit runny.

To Serve: Divide the shakshuka between bowls and serve with warm, crusty bread. Enjoy!


DINNER

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Mussels with Merguez Sausage and White Wine

Recipe Adapted from Food & Wine.

Serves: 2
Cost: Approximately $12.54 per serving. (Note: Price will vary depending on the sausage and the quality of wine you decide to use)

GRADE

Cost: $
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound Merguez sausage (or loose chorizo)

2 shallots

2 cloves garlic

1 tomato

1 lemon

1/2 cup cilantro

2 pounds mussels

1 cup dry white wine of your choice

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes

Canola oil

Crusty, toasted bread for serving

METHOD

Prep Ingredients: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Remove the casings from the sausage and set aside. Mince the shallots and small dice the tomatoes. Mince the garlic. Juice the lemon. Mince the cilantro. Scrub and debeard the mussels, discarding any that are cracked or open. Chill until ready to use. Scrub and cut the potatoes into large cubes. Keep the wine in the fridge until ready to use.

Add a slick of canola oil to a medium, oven-safe and turn the heat to medium high. Add the potatoes in an even layer and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast for about 20-30 minutes until fork tender.

While the potatoes are roasting, make the mussels.

Heat a large pot (with a lid) over medium high until very hot. Add the sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat, until the sausage is cooked through. If you have lots of fat in the pot, drain off about half, keeping the other half in the pot.

Add the minced shallot and garlic to the pot with the sausage and cook over medium high until the shallot is softened, about 5-8 minutes.

Add the wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Chill the remaining of wine in the bottom to be served with dinner. Add the tomatoes and bring the sauce to a low boil. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and the flavors have melded. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Carefully add the mussels to the pot and cover. Cook for 7-10 minutes. Discard any mussels that didn't open. Sprinkle with half of the cilantro.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and toss with the other half of the cilantro.

To Serve: Bring the entire pot of mussels to the table. Divide potatoes between plates and arrange a few mussels on each plate. Serve with crusty bread and the remaining wine.


DESSERT

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Tunisian Rose Water Marzipan Balls (Kaber Ellouz)

Recipe Adapted from Saveur.

Makes: 25 Marzipan Balls
Cost: Approximately $1.38 per marzipan ball.*

GRADE

Cost: $
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon rose water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups almond flour

5 drops red food coloring

Pink sanding sugar

METHOD

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, and 6 tablespoons of water over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, until slightly reduced. Turn off the heat and stir in the rose water and vanilla extract.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the almond flour. Using an electric mixer (or a food processor), gently drizzle in the hot syrup as you mix the ingredients to combine. Continue mixing until well combined into a dough ball.

Cut the mixture in half and add one half to another bowl. Color one half with the 5 drops of red food coloring, and knead with your hands until well combined and the dough ball is red.

Transfer both bowls of dough to the freezer for 10-15 minutes to make them easier to work with.

Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and roll each ball of dough into a long rope. Wrap one rope of dough around the other, similar to a braid except you only have two ropes instead of three.

Cut the rope into small, equal sizes pieces ensuring that each piece has a bit of red dough and a bit of white dough. Roll each piece into a ball to create the marbling effect. Transfer to a plate with pink sanding sugar and roll it to coat with sugar.

Chill for 10-15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Designer and photographer living in NYC. I work as a design manager in ed tech and I make tasty recipes in my spare time!