Monday, 11 April 2016

Merguez and Red Rice salad with poached egg

The longer days are back again. The clocks went back, giving us extra light in the evenings. The temperature is creeping back up. I’ve put away my warmest Winter woollies and I’m thinking about sending all my well-worn coats to the dry cleaners before putting them into temporary retirement. Spring has well and truly sprung and it is glorious.

I’m a “never say never” girl, so I won’t say anything rash like I won’t make another stew, soup or casserole again until October. I’m a capricious creature and like to go where the food mood takes me. 

However, I do feel like right now like ringing the changes. I was thinking about the food and ingredients of the South of France, and it is from Provence that I take my inspiration for this dish.

Camargue red rice is grown in the South of France. It’s a unique ingredient, with nutty flavours and a texture offering considerable bite. A whole grain, it keeps you full for longer and is high in fibre. As a result of having much of the husk left on, it takes much longer to cook than regular white rice. 

Merguez is a southern French sausage, usually made of lamb, although occasionally from beef. It is spicy and herby, as befits a food originating with the Bedouin people. Cumin, fennel, garlic and sumac provide aroma and flavour and either harissa chilli paste or chopped red chilli give some heat. They are usually grilled, but I have fried them here as it was easier to cook them evenly.  

Merguez and Red Rice salad with poached egg

Serves 2


4 Merguez sausages
5 small tomatoes, quartered
8 sugar snap peas, topped, tailed and cut into half
10 French beans, topped, but not tailed and cut into thirds
1 banana/French shallot, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
60g Camargue Red rice
80-100g pancetta cubes (or bacon equivalent)
Mixed salad leaf, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Olive oil

Poached eggs:
2 eggs, cracked into individual mugs or ramekin dishes
1 teaspoon vinegar (any kind)

1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
½ teaspoon garlic paste
Olive Oil (I used extra virgin, but this isn’t necessary)
White wine vinegar


1. You will need several saucepans of varying sizes and a couple of non-stick frying pans, unless you have a helper who will wash pans up for you so they can be recycled. 

2. Put the Camargue Red rice in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil and then put on a simmer. You will be doing a lot of the rest of the cooking while the rice cooks, which will take 25 minutes. 

3. Fry the Merguez sausages in olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, until cooked (about 15 minutes). Some paprika may drain out of the sausages, but do not worry about this. If you want to keep the dish lower in calories and fat, you can grill the sausages instead. 

4. Remove the Merguez sausages from the pan onto a plate covered in kitchen paper. When cool enough to handle, cut into small pieces.

5. Dry fry the pancetta or bacon lardons in a non-stick frying pan until cooked. Remove from the pan onto a plate covered in kitchen paper.

6. Put another pan of water on, bring to the boil. Add the French beans and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the sugar snaps. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water to arrest the cooking process. 

7. Mix up the salad dressing by putting the white wine vinegar into a jar or mug, adding the garlic paste and Dijon mustard. Whisk with a fork or put the lid on and shake to mix. Then add the Olive oil and repeat the mixing process. 

8. Put the kettle on with about a mug of water in it. When the Camargue Red rice is cooked (try it to see if it is al dente), drain and rinse with boiling water. 

9. In a mixing bowl, add the sugar snaps, shallots, pancetta, Merguez, and the cooked Camargue Red rice. Pour the dressing on top, and mix all of the ingredients together with a gentle folding motion. Once mixed up, leave to cool down.

10. Put your salad leaf and tomatoes on plates. 

11. Put a small pan of water on to boil with 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Once boiling, start swirling the water vigorously. Whilst the water is circulating, add the eggs. Poach for 4 minutes. 

12. Top the salad leaf and tomatoes with the Camargue Red rice and Merguez mixture. Sprinkle with parsley. Top with an egg each. Enjoy immediately.

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