Winter veg casserole with labneh
Winter veg casserole with labneh

Winter Veg Casserole with Merguez Meatballs

October 2, 2017

This recipe is a winter vegetable casserole using merguez meatballs and our own labneh.
Many will recognise this as originating from one of Nigella’s feasts but we have to start somewhere. I’ve adapted it to use both our Captain’s Curry Paste and Herby Harissa (as well as the Labneh) and, a few years ago, it provided the starting point for our ‘SA Food Awards best in show’ Vegetable Hariri soup.
I just added various grains and pulses and a lot more liquid.
The suggested casserole quantities make enough for a large gathering but it’s even better reheated and, as mentioned, makes a delicious soup with more stock and some rice, lentils and chickpeas.


For the meatballs:

70g sunflower seeds

1 large onion, finely diced and quickly sautéed

1 pita bread – torn into small pieces

Bunch coriander – larger stalks removed

500g minced beef or lamb

2 tbsp herby harissa

For the casserole:

75ml olive oil

3 celery sticks

4 carrots

3 onions

4 cloves of garlic

1.2kg mix of peeled and diced (20mm) root vegetables (parsnip, swede or turnips, celeriac, sweet potato or squash)

150g unsulphured whole dried apricots – chopped

1 large red onion – peeled, halved and cut into thin half moons.

1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you’re dispensing with the meatballs and are looking for something vegetarian)

1kg tinned tomatoes

50g each herby harissa and Captain’s curry paste

To garnish:

Leaves from a bunch of coriander

Seeds from a pomegranate

200g tub of Ben's Farm Shop labneh



1Place the sunflower seeds, sautéed onions, pita bread and coriander in a food processor and pulse a couple of times.

2Add the mince and harissa and pulse until everything is evenly mixed and the mix has just begun to turn a little pasty.

3With wet hands form into meatballs using about a heaped teaspoon (10g) of mix for each one.


1Peel and dice the celery, carrots and white onion. Put three quarters of this and the garlic in a food processor and pulse to an even, fine mush.

2Heat the oil in a large casserole and add the mush. Cook for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.

3Add the rest of the chopped veg, the red onion and the root vegetables. Add the harissa and curry paste and cook, stirring occasionally, for another ten minutes.

4Add the apricots, stock and tomatoes and cook, with the lid on, for an hour. After about fifteen minutes check the spice level and seasoning.

5Meanwhile put the meatballs in a non-stick roasting tray and give them a five minute blast in a hot oven (220°C). Add them to the casserole fifteen minutes from full time to let them cook through.

6Add the garnish and serve.