As some of you may know, I have a slight addiction to cooking shows and, during several Chopped and Top Chef marathons, I heard mention of a North African spice mixture called ras el hanout. My curiosity was piqued so I followed the trail.
Ras el hanout translates from Arabic to ‘head of the shop’ because the mixture is made from the top quality spices one might find in a spice shop. Ingredients vary slightly by region and even by shop but, at their base, they generally include clove, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, fenugreek, and cumin. Some ras el hanout blends also include rose petals, fennel, or coriander. You really can’t go wrong with any of these and oh, my warm spice-y goddesses! This stuff if GOOD!
In addition, each of these spices has powerful healing properties—turmeric for general immune system strength and inflammation, ginger for gut healing, clove for respiratory and bacterial infections, cinnamon to regulate blood sugar… Ras el hanout thus helps serve as an excellent preventative for bad germy invasions and other illnesses.
This spice blend can be found in some grocery stores or you can make your own. Below is a recipe to bring North African flavors to your holiday table. These spice-y shallots can replace canned onions on your great aunt’s green bean casserole recipe. They’re also delicious on a ginger-y butternut squash puree or mashed potatoes. Enjoy!
- 4 medium shallots, peeled and cut into ¼” thick slices
- 1 tsp. organic sunflower oil (or another high smoke point oil)
- 1 tsp. ras el hanout
- a pinch or two of salt (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. This takes so little time to prepare that you might even preheat the oven 5 minutes before you begin cutting the shallots.
- Slice shallots into 1/4-inch slices.
- Separate the layers of the shallots into rings as best you can.
- Toss with oil and ras el hanout.
- Spread out the spiced shallots evenly on a cookie sheet.
- Roast until they just start to turn crispy, about 20 minutes. Toss halfway through using a spatula to ensure even browning.
- Toss with optional salt and serve warm.
- I highly recommend doubling this recipe because they are so addictive that half of my shallots never make it to the plate.
- Photo: © fkruger