Food is a hobby of mine, but mostly from the receiving end. I like eating.
I like trying different and new things. I’m also quite open minded when it comes to what can be defined as ‘edible’.
Tragically, I suck in the food-making department. I am lazy and impatient. On top of that, I am really clumsy.
When I moved into my current home a few years ago I quickly realized I had to improve my cooking skills (and willingness), given the fact that I moved to a part of town with a very high takeaway density. My budget, my health and the environment would all suffer if I gave in to all that temptation.
So, I signed us up for one of those meal-kit providers. We started receiving the ingredients for three meals a week. At first, my boyfriend and I endured the food making process by cooking together.
After about six months we were confident we had learned how to cook. We even dared invite friends over for dinner (cooked by us!) and they hardly ever complained of stomach cramps afterwards.
One of my favorite dishes I learned how to prepare in that time was the Ptitim with mushrooms, tarragon and lemonzest ricotta.
So yes, this is happening, I am going to share a recipe with you.
I’ve seen a variation of this dish in a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, which is more of a stew but features many of the same ingredients.
Ingredients (for 2 people):
- 4 medium sized shallots
- 1/2 lemon
- fresh tarragon
- fresh chervil
- 100g ricotta
- 250g cremini mushrooms
- 600g pecorino or grana padano
- 170g Ptitim / pearl couscous
- 600ml of vegetable stock
About the ingredients
Ptitim, which is also known as pearl couscous or Israeli couscous, is not an ingredient I was familiar with previously. It has become a staple food at our place ever since we learned about it though. If you can’t get your hands on this variety of couscous, any type of pasta would work for this recipe.
The dish also includes tarragon, which in Dutch is called ‘dragon’. As if that isn’t reason enough to put into a dish it also happens to be superduper yummy. It has a sweet, anisey taste which I really recommend you get acquainted to, if you’re not already. If you can’t get the fresh variety, the dried stuff also works.
Chervil is not as easy to find where I live, especially not in the fresh variety. I have been forced to leave that ingredient out completely on several occasions and the dish was still really good, so no sweat if you don’t have it. The tarragon is quite essential though, so do try to include that one in some shape or form!
Step 1 – the choppy stage
Cut the shallot into small pieces. The original recipe advised to cut them in quarters, but I prefer them diced into smaller bits, but that’s just a personal preference.
Grate the lemon for some lemon zest. The recipe recommends half a teaspoon, but zest is such a specific flavor I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you want a bit more or a little less of that.
You will also need approximately 1 tablespoon of lemonjuice and I recommend making lemonade from the rest.
Cut the mushrooms in halves or quarters, depending on their original size.
Chop up the fresh herbs.
Step 2 – the part with the fire and the pans and the stirring
Heat a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the shallot until soft (low heat, about 10 min) and then add the mushrooms. Add some salt and pepper to the pan and let it simmer for a bit (10 more minutes).
In the meantime, prepare the pearl couscous according to the instructions on the package. Make sure to use vegetable stock and not just plain water to cook the couscous in.
Step 3 – mixing the lemony lactose bomb
Mix the ricotta with the pecorino cheese, the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Add in a sniff of salt and a generous amount of pepper.
Step 4 – bringing it all together
Decide which of the two pans is going to be the cometogether pan. I suppose this depends on the size of the pans you have and which one is your favorite.
Add a tablespoon of butter to the appointed pan and then throw it all together. You can keep some ricotta and some of the herbs separate, as a garnish (but I usually don’t care much for that).
My boyfriend doesn’t like his dish as lemony as I do, so I usually hold some zest behind for my plate.
Don’t feel disheartened by the way it looks, I assure you it tastes really good!
This recipe of my favorite Comfortfood is a contribution for my own personal A-to-Z challenge, which I will be adding to once a month.
Alphabet so far: