It’s so cold here now that when I drink tea, my breath comes out in mist, even indoors. To keep warm, I’ve resorted to curling up in bed with a hot-water bottle during the day just to do my work. Not falling asleep during my reading is getting more and more difficult, particularly as the monstrous pillow-like grey clouds are keeping us in a perpetual state of half light.
But as the sky darkens, we start to fight back and bring out our own light and warmth: Christmas lights are starting to go up everywhere and the houses along my street have a cosy glow as I cycle home from university. The last couple of months of the year for me are all about cozy warmth and richness to keep us going. Instead of mourning the end of the year, we have to celebrate in order to keep our spirits up for the rest of winter. This recipe is warm and rich and sweet, while staying pretty healthy. Most importantly, it is delicious!
This makes enough for 2 as a starter
– 4 large collard greens leaves
– Skewers or cocktail sticks (to hold them together)
– 16 pearl onions
– 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– Pinch of chili flakes (or to taste)
– Splash of olive oil
– 35g couscous
– 100ml vegetable stock
– 1/2 tsp harissa spices
– 1/3 tsp dried mixed herbs
– Salt and pepper to season
Heat a splash of oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Finely slice the onions and add to the pan. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and making sure to scrape all the browning parts off the pan as you do so. I know it’s tempting to assume they’re burning when you see that browning but that is all the caramelizing sugar from the onion that will make this so delicious.
When the onions are rich brown, add the vinegar to the hot pan to de-glaze it, making sure you get every lat bit of the sticky caramel from the base of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chili.
Heat the stock to boiling and add the couscous, then cover and set aside for 10-15 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Once the couscous is cooked, add the spices, herbs, sultanas, salt and pepper and mix in.
Pile each leaf with a quarter of the couscous mix followed by a quarter of the onion mix. Roll the leaf and fold in the sides like a parcel and secure with cocktail sticks.
Add the stuffed leaves to a vegetable steamer and steam for 5 minutes, until the leaves are bright green. Carefully remove the hot leaves from the steamer, take out the cocktail sticks and serve!