Fancy dishes made simple

By Pascale Perez Rubin

Preparing fancy dishes doesn't always mean having to follow complex recipes. Some dishes that are quick and easy still manage to look and taste fantastic.

I've provided three recipes. The first is butternut squash filled with couscous, herbs and pomegranate seeds.

Bake the squash halves and, after letting them cool, fill them with couscous, herbs, walnuts and pomegranate seeds.

The second, triangle meat-filled pastries, can also easily be prepared as vegetarian or with chicken or fish.

The third is sweet potato in silan and pomegranate sauce, which caramelises in the oven beautifully, filled with couscous and herbs

Meat Triangle Pastries

These pastries are made with 1 kilogramme of flour and 1 tablespoon of dry yeast, which makes the dough thin and crispy. You are welcome to use vegetarian or any other filling that you desire. Makes 12 large or 24 small pastries


  • 1 kg plain flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp dry yeast
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp (15 gr) silan - date honey
  • 21/2-3 cups water (if necessary, add a little more)
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 300 gr cooked beef or chicken, ground or chopped
  • 1 potato, cooked, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp chicken soup powder
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3-5 tbsp water

Egg wash:

  • 1 egg, beaten with 2 tbsp water


  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds mixed with nigella seeds, fennel, aniseed, poppy, flax or chia seeds

Serving suggestion:

Serve with raw tehina on the side or drizzled on top.


To prepare the dough, add to the bowl of an electric mixer the flour, yeast, oil, vinegar and silan. Begin mixing on low speed while gradually adding the water.

Mix for 6 minutes. Cover and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

To prepare the filling, heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until onions turn translucent and then add mushrooms. Sauté for another 2 or 3 minutes and then remove from the flame.

Transfer to a bowl and add the cooked meat (crumble by hand or chop). Add the potato pieces and mix well.

Add the spices and water and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Separate dough into 12 equal-sized pieces. Roll out each piece on a floured work surface into a circle. Alternatively, roll out all the dough until it's 1/2-cm thick and then cut out circles with a 20-cm (or larger) diameter cup.

Place one or two spoonfuls of filling in the middle of each circle and flatten. Fold over to form a triangle, but leave a small hole open where the filling can peek out.

Prepare the rest of the pastries in the same way.

Place the pastries on a tray lined with baking paper. Make sure they're not touching one another. Let rest for 30 minutes and then brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame and nigella seeds, or aniseed, fennel, poppy, or chia seeds.

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200 deg for 5 minutes. Lower temperature to 180 deg and bake for another 25 minutes, or until they've browned on the bottom, too. Serve hot or room temperature. Drizzle with tehina.

Butternut Squash Filled with Couscous, Herbs and Pomegranate Sauce


  • 3 small butternut squash
  • Lots of olive oil
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • Salt


  • 2 cups of cooked whole-wheat couscous
  • 11/4 cups water
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped finely
  • Bunch of mint, chopped finely
  • 1/2 bunch of coriander, chopped finely
  • 4 spring onions, chopped finely
  • 50 gr cranberries or pomegranate seeds
  • 50 gr light raisins
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate juice or cherry syrup
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Handful of roasted almonds or walnuts


Rinse the squash and cut in half. Clean out fibres and seeds inside and rinse well.

Line a tray with baking paper and place squash on top. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme and kosher salt.

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 190 deg for 30-40 minutes, or until they are soft.

You can flip them over for the last 10 minutes if desired. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Prepare couscous according to directions and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Fill squash with couscous mixture. Serves six.

Sweet Potato in Silan and Pomegranate Sauce

This easy, quick dish always manages to steal the show. The combination of the silan and pomegranate sauce forms a nice crispy coating. Serves six


  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp silan or honey
  • 1 tsp pomegranate concentrate
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
  • More olive oil to drizzle on sweet potatoes

Serving suggestion:

Fresh thyme leaves or chopped coriander


Rinse sweet potatoes well. Cut them in half lengthwise. On the cut side, make cuts in a crisscross fashion. In a bowl, mix olive oil, silan, pomegranate concentrate, salt, pepper and thyme leaves.

Spread mixture on cut side of each piece of sweet potato and pour the rest on the baking sheet.

Drizzle some more oil on the baking sheet and arrange the pieces of sweet potato with the cut side face down.

Drizzle more olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake in an oven that's been preheated to 200 deg for 20-30 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft.

If they're still hard, lower temperature to 180 deg and bake for another 10-15 minutes, but make sure they don't burn or get overcooked. Serve hot with thyme leaves or chopped coriander and salt sprinkled on top.

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