This is my first time participating in one of these blogging events, so it is quite fitting that the title of the event should be “My Legume Love Affair,” because I really do love legumes. For a vegetarian, legumes are a great source of protein that are also low in fat and cholesterol. But they are still very, very tasty, so I don’t hold it against them. So for my entry, I cooked North African inspired Chickpeas. To accompany them, I made a Morrocan Fried Flatbread and for the meat eaters, beef kebabs.
**Update** My Legume Love Affair was created by The Well-Seasoned Cook, and this edition, #20, is being hosted by The Crispy Cook. The Crispy Cook will also post a wrap up of the event sometime after February 28th, so check it out to see all the yummy legume-based recipes.
North African Inspired Chickpeas (recipe improvised by me):
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
- 1/8 tsp each cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and paprika, all ground (or to taste)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 cans chickpeas, 15.5 oz
- 1 can stewed tomatoes (mine were home canned, about a pint)
- a few sprigs of parsley
- Heat a medium to large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onion. Cook a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and spices. Cook a few more minutes until the mixture gets really fragrant but don’t let the garlic burn.
- Add the chickpeas and stir until they are coated with the spice mixture. Then add the tomatoes and stir again. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid reduces (about 20 minutes). Stir occasionally.
- Plate in pretty bowls and garnish with parsley. Serves 2-3 as a main course or 3-5 as a side dish, depending on your appetites.
I really liked this dish, and the guys seemed to like it, too. I actually stirred in a spoonful of Greek yoghurt in it at the table, because it was there to accompany the kebabs. But it wasn’t in the picture, and it wasn’t necessary, so I didn’t include it in the recipe. Also you might notice I used canned beans instead of dried beans. Although I usually prefer dried beans, sometimes I don’t know the night before what I will be cooking, so on those occasions, canned beans will have to do. It was a weekday night dinner, and it was already running late because of the homemade harissa debacle (to be explained shortly), so I don’t feel I bad about it.
To accompany the chickpeas I made Morrocan Fried Flatbread and Morrocan Kebabs, both from the cookbook Mediterranean Street Food, by Anissa Helou. If you have not looked at this book, and you like Mediterranean food, I definately recommend it. I followed the recipes, mostly. I adapted the flatbread recipe to make one large one instead of four. Inside it is filled with onions, parsley, and spices. Next time, though, I think I will add cheese (and more salt to the dough).
The kebabs were marinated in a similar mixture of onions, parsley, cumin, salt and pepper, then cooked under the broiler until medium rare (I think? I asked the guys to decide when they were done). They guys really seemed to like the kebabs, which they ate with a little Greek yoghurt.
I also planned to serve some homemade harissa, also from the same cookbook, but time became an issue. Chopping and deseeding the peppers took so long that I just decided to finish the project after dinner, which I did. Let me tell you, this harissa is HOT. I used a mixture of dried chipotle chiles, dried ancho chiles, the little dried chiles you get in the hispanic spice aisle that have been in my pantry so long that I forget what they are called (they are about as long as my pinky finger and very thin), and just for fun, dried habaneros. These were soaked and then mixed in the food processer with salt and a lot of garlic. Then I mixed in some ground caraway and a little more salt. I then spooned it into three lovely jars I got for Christmas (that I was planning a much sweeter use for but they are the only jars I have with one-piece lids, so they will have to do). Covered with olive oil, they will last for quite a while in the fridge.
See? Aren’t they lovely? One of these beauties will last me a while. Do I have any takers for the other two?