Tag Archives: chickpeas

When Simple Meets Delicious

There are times after a busy day on the farm that I want to make something healthy yet packed with flavor. If I can get it to the table in 30 minutes, all the better. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s made with my favorite legume, the chickpea or garbanzo. Chickpeas go way beyond hummus, and are excellent in stews, soups, sides and salads, along with grains and pasta. They boast 11 grams of protein in 1 cup, and deliver the most nutrients of all other beans. Loaded with zinc and fiber, they pair well with cuisines from many cultures.

This is a simple stew from Catalonia, Spain loaded with garlic, vegetable broth, spinach, saffron and get this, raisins. In the end, this savory-sweet stew hits on all cylinders. We love it, and I think you will too!

CATALAN SPINACH AND CHICKPEA STEW

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, ground in a mortar and pestle or food processor
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a stock pot over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the sliced shallots and the garlic. Saute, stirring constantly, until shallots are translucent about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in the mortar and pestle or food processor, add the saffron threads, parsley, and sea salt. Process until fine. Set aside.
  3. Add the fresh spinach, and stir until wilted, then add the chickpeas, raisins, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and the almond mixture. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls.

Serves 4

“Beans, beans, the magical legume. The more you eat, the more you consume.” –A. Yankovic

Chorizo Chickpea Stew

It’s the time of the year when the grayness of winter has sunk into our bones. I look out at the marsh and lake hoping that the ice will break up and the lake will move again. It’s the annual pause before spring when we are wanting, needing to see life again. I find myself watching for the finches to change color and the crocus to bloom.

To counter this time of the blahs I lean towards cooking something at little spicy, and chorizo definitely does the trick. I enjoy all chorizo whether it’s fresh Mexican (in link or bulk) or cured Spanish (in link ready to eat). Good chorizo is about the flavor profile. Traditionally made from pork, it may contain garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, salt, ground oregano, ground cumin and black pepper.

Several weeks ago I discovered a chicken chorizo that simply amazed me! The seasoning was perfect, and the texture bellied that it was even chicken. I also found that it was very versatile. I fry up a pound and keep it available for tacos, taco salads, or breakfast quesadillas. Then I made this chickpea stew. Wow.

CHORIZO CHICKPEA STEW

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound bulk chorizo of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2-15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups packed fresh kale, stemmed and chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large heavy pot, brown the chorizo in the olive oil over medium-high heat until no longer pink, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the chopped onion and continue to cook, until the onion is soft. Add the tomato paste, stirring until incorporated.
  3. Add chickpeas, paprika, salt, and vegetable stock. Cover and simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes.
  4. Add chopped kale, and simmer until kale is wilted and softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Ladle into bowls.

Serves 4

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” –Margaret Atwood

Anything Moroccan!!

I am a big fan of ethnic food, particularly anything from the Mediterranean. French, Italian, Spanish, North African and especially Moroccan. Mediterranean cuisine is so darn full of fresh, savory ingredients! I just can’t get enough. Moroccan food is particularly known for their national food the tagine, it has the unique taste of popular spices such as saffron, cumin (my favorite), cinnamon, ginger, and cilantro. Most recipes are healthy and loaded with vegetables. The delicious combination of mouth-watering flavors is what makes it unique…Oh, and what flavors!

This recipe is a stew that is on regular rotation at our house. The combination of butternut squash, red potato, chickpeas and spices works beautifully together; but the green olives give it not only a punch of color, but a salty counterpoint to the sweetness of the squash. The color of this dish alone is one of the reasons to try it. You can serve this stew over, couscous, rice or cauliflower rice (which is what I use). I also love to use my homemade cilantro-chili sauce, rather than fresh cilantro. You can find it on this blog under Indian Roasted Potatoes, February 2, 2021.

MOROCCAN STEW

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
  • 1 head garlic, cloves thinly sliced
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound butternut squash, large dice
  • 3/4 pound (about 3 medium) red potatoes, large dice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (homemade will really add depth)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1 cup green olives, (I use Castelvetrano)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
  • Toasted slivered almonds for garnish
  • Plain Greek yogurt for garnish
  • Your favorite hot sauce (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until spices are aromatic and onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add squash and potatoes, stir to coat, and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Add stock, chickpeas, tomatoes with their juices, and saffron. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until squash and potatoes are fork tender.
  3. Remove from heat and add lemon zest and olives. Serve over grain of choice. Garnish with cilantro, almonds and yogurt.

Serves 4-6

“Ethnic diversity adds richness to a society.” –Gary Locke

A Protein Packed Pocket

Most people love a good sandwich, but too often rely on lunchmeat (which is loaded with salt) or drive through burgers. What if I told you that there is an alternative to those boring choices. This pita pocket filling is not only yummy, it’s packed with healthy vegetable protein. Introducing the Dilly Chickpea Pita. I typically double this recipe for several days of lunches. It will keep sealed in the frig for up to 3 days. You can add additional veggies such as cucumber (my favorite), tomato, avocado or lettuce inside the pita pocket before you scoop in the filling.

Chickpeas or garbanzos are my favorite legume. They are inexpensive, versatile and delicious. Their charm goes far beyond hummus. They are excellent in soups, stews, salads, as a non-dairy thickener for soups, and in veggie bowls. Either dried or canned, chickpeas are a definite go-to for Healthy and nutritious eating!

DILLY CHICKPEA PITA SANDWICHES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup mayo (either vegan or regular)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon or grainy mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely minced (or 1.5 teaspoons dried)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Sliced cucumbers, lettuce or radish to line pita pockets
  • Pita cut in half (or other bread of your choice)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place chickpeas in a mixing bowl and lightly mash with a fork or potato masher for a rustic texture.
  2. Add sunflower seeds, mayo, mustard, maple syrup, red onion, red wine vinegar, dill, salt and pepper to the chickpeas. Mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  3. Split your pita pocket, (or toast two slices of bread), add any other veggies you are using, then spoon on the Dilly Chickpea Spread.
  4. ENJOY!!!

“Hard and dry, a chickpea is inedible.
Hard and dry, a heart is unlovable.
Presoak it in dance, music and art.”
― Khang Kijarro Nguyen

A Big Bowl of Yummy

When we’re busy on the farm in the summer, it’s good to have some go-to salads that can be made in advance, and eaten over several days if need be. This a riff on tabbouleh, a Lebanese salad from the Middle East, made primary with bulgur and parsley. Bulgur is made from parboiled or steamed wheat kernels/berries that are then dried, partially stripped of their outer bran layer, and coarsely ground. The result of this process is a highly nutritious grain that cooks relatively quickly. There might be as many recipes for tabbouleh as their are cooks. The ratio of fresh parsley to bulgur is one of the reasons.

Traditionally tabbouleh is made with bulgur, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, parsley and mint. Since we are vegetable farmers, I like to load mine up with additional ingredients like radish, grated carrot, and chickpeas. I also like to use a little more bulgur than they might use in the Middle East, making it packed with fiber rich whole grain, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Although most recipes call for a medium-coarse, or #2 bulgur, I like to use a fine bulgur or #1 for my tabbouleh. If you enjoy a more chewy grain, use the #2 medium-coarse. Either way, 1 cup dried bulgur will yield 4 cups cooked bulgur. I buy my fine bulgur from a Middle Eastern grocery store. At any rate you can adjust proportions and ingredients to your personal preferences, however non-traditional it may be. Just don’t omit the bulgur or fresh parsley altogether. Tabbouleh, although best when fresh, will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

BRICKYARD FARMS TABBOULEH

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup bulgur, #1 or #2
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch, then quarter slices
  • 4 green onions, sliced using both white and green parts
  • 6-8 radishes, sliced
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and shredded on large holes of box grater
  • 1 large bunch curly parsley, chopped
  • 6-8 large mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (quality matters here)
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. If you are using fine or #1 bulgur: Place 1 cup bulgur in large bowl. Boil 2 cups of water and pour in over the bulgur. Let rest for 10-12 minutes. Fluff with a fork. I like to place it in the refrigerator for about an hour to cool it down. You can also just let it cool in the bowl.
  2. If you are using medium-coarse #2, place 1 cup bulgur in a heavy pot and add 2 cups water, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional). Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and cover. Cook for 12 minutes. Take of heat and let stand for 10 minutes more. Fluff with a fork. Let cool to room temperature or place in refrigerator for one hour.
  3. To the cooled bulgur add your halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber, green onions. radishes, chickpeas, grated carrots, chopped parsley and mint.
  4. In a separate bowl or pint mason jar, mix together the lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Mix with a whisk, or shake vigorously to emulsify. Pour 1/2 of dressing over tabbouleh. Mix thoroughly. Add additional dressing just before serving.

Serves 6-8

“What is more refreshing than a salad, when your appetite seems to have deserted you?” –Alexis Soyer

A Pantry Darling

It is blustery and cold today at the farm. It has been a challenging year. A year marked by the pandemic, angry politics, frustration and despair for so many. It has caused us to rethink our lives going forward, and adjust our priorities. As 2020 starts to wind down, I am grateful for the love in my life, shelter from the howling wind outside, and our loving animals. But the one thing that has kept me going day after day is being in my kitchen to create something that not only feeds our bodies, but our souls. Nourishment. We require it as much as the air we breathe. I find this nourishment in the act of feeding others. It is an act of love.

When it comes to what we create in our kitchens, I find there are some ingredients that I return to again and again. I put up dozens and dozens of jars of tomatoes in all their various forms. They are truly a pantry staple. When I reflected on other ingredients, I had to acknowledge an item that has just as much versatility; the humble chickpea. Whether canned or dried this protein warrior is far more than your simple hummus. Everything from spreads, to soups, to salads and entries, the garbanzo bean has it all. Although I appreciate having canned chickpeas on hand, I can’t recommend enough cooking them from their dried state. Quite frankly, they are dirt cheap! But they are also surprisingly delicious made from scratch. When soaked overnight, they cook in about 40 minutes. I usually make a large batch and freeze some of them with their cooking liquid for additional options. Remember to add 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda to every 2 cups of dried chickpeas, in your soaking water. After draining them before cooking add the same amount to your cooking water. This helps soften them. Also, never add salt to your cooking water, as your beans will never get soft.

INDIAN BUTTER CHICKPEAS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (I use a quart of homemade)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole coconut milk, stirred with whisk in separate bowl before adding
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained OR equivalent of 4 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)
  • 2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, for serving (optional)
  • 1 lime cut in wedges, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until golden and browned around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat (you don’t want to burn the butter).
  2. Stir in the garlic and ginger, and cook another minute. Stir in cumin, paprika, garam masala and cinnamon stick, and cook another 30 seconds.
  3. Add tomatoes with their juices. Using a large spoon, break up and smash the tomatoes in the pot. Stir in whisked coconut milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and continuing to break up the tomatoes if necessary.
  4. Stir in chickpeas and cayenne if using, simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Add 2 cups packed baby spinach of heat. It will wilt as you stir in in. Serve in bowls over rice, garnishing with cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Serves 4-6

“What the new year brings to you, will depend on what you bring to the new year.”

Beyond Lettuce

When we elect to stay home as much as possible and self-shelter during this pandemic, how we have prepared can really make a difference. I really notice this during the winter as well. When it comes to salads, we need to think outside the box and get creative. For example, when Val and I were walking the dogs the other day on our farm, we came across a row of overgrown arugula. Rather than going to flower, it was still sending up small new leaves. They weren’t as tender as during the summer months, but they were still quite viable; more like field spinach. We picked about 12 cups of the stuff, and it’s working rather well in all sorts of dishes. Add this to dry cooked or canned beans and shredded carrots and you’ve got yourself a delicious healthy salad. No arugula, try spinach or kale. Both chickpeas and cannellini beans work, and most of us have olives, lemon juice and olive oil.

Having sturdy root vegetables on hand is also another way to get some ‘fresh’ in during winter. I go to the store about every 6 weeks, and when it comes to fresh vegetables it is as follows: potatoes, beets, peppers, carrots, cabbage, oranges and cherry tomatoes. Root vegetables are excellent, and the peppers and cherry tomatoes are throw in all sorts of recipes until their gone. I never buy lettuce in the winter! Most times it has been traumatized during transit and goes south in a matter of days. This is the seasonal time for citrus, so that can be a welcome addition.

BEAN SALAD WITH CARROTS, ARUGULA AND OLIVES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas or cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 carrots, peeled and shredded on large holes of box grater
  • 1 small red onion, vertically sliced
  • 2 cup arugula, chopped coarse
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place beans in a microwave safe bowl. Mix together your olive oil, lemon juice, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Heat beans on high for 2 minutes; then pour dressing over warm beans. This will allow them to absorb the dressing and make them more flavorful. Let sit for 20-30 minutes
  2. Add carrots, arugula and olives; toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper.

“Winter forms our character and brings out our best.” —Tim Allen

Edible Culture

As the wind throws our wind chimes against the house, and stirs up whitecaps on the lake; I sit beside our wood burner feeling quite cozy. I was thinking about our kitchen fest last holiday weekend; I absolutely love egg dishes and had made Shashuka on Sunday. The dish’s name means ‘all mixed up’ and in a sense it is. Its name dates back to the Ottoman Empire and is a favorite in the Middle East, Israel and North Africa. It’s hardy, affordable and delicious with warm spices of cumin and smoked paprika, along with tomatoes, sweet peppers, chickpeas, onion, garlic and of course eggs. There are several similar egg dishes in the world that have some of these ingredients along with their own cultural flair. I have always thought that any dish combining tomatoes and eggs is an automatic winner.

Shashuka has a comforting nature and healthy ingredients. There are many variations that allow for levels of spiciness, along with vegetables, herbs and meat. You can add ground lamb or sausage before sautéing the onion and pepper, and garnish it with feta; or you can make it more Tex-Mex by omitting the paprika and adding chili powder, black beans or corn, then finishing it with chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. It’s just plain flexible, so let your imagination soar. These days, practically any dish in which eggs are cooked in a sauce may be called Shashuka. In my last cookbook I have a recipe for Green Shashuka, made with spinach, Swiss chard, arugula or kale; along with onions, garlic, herbs, cream and feta.

SHASHUKA

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet peppers, I like one red and one yellow, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15-oz cans fire roasted tomatoes (or 6-8 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1 15-oz can rinsed chickpeas
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 2 fresh eggs per person
  • 1/2 cup fresh micro-greens, chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
Let’s start with onions and garlic
Then add beautiful peppers and tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large non-stick or cast iron skillet, heat your oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until soft and translucent; add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add peppers and fresh tomatoes if using; cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add fire-roasted tomatoes if using, then cumin, smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper (or red pepper flakes), black pepper, chickpeas and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Simmer until thickened, about 5-8 more minutes.
  3. Stir in baby spinach and fold gently until spinach wilts. Make indentations in the sauce and gently crack the eggs into the wells. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet, and cook until the egg whites are just set, but yolks are still soft, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. Carry skillet to table and serve hot, sprinkled with garnish of your choice.

Serves: 2-6

Eggs poaching in sauce
Beautiful Shashuka ready to eat!!

“Food is love!!”

Mediterranean Dreaming

After 3 inches of rain last night, it is a steamy, warm day here in Michigan.  Although the farm really needed the rain, humidity generally puts me into salad mode; and there is no better time for salads than summer. I enjoy leafy salads, I like to get outside the box and create salads that use other ingredients.  Anything Mediterranean comes to mind, so a layered salad of hummus, ground lamb, and veggies hits just the right cord.

This layered salad makes a particularly nice presentation at a gathering on a large platter. You can also make individual plates if you rather. The hummus can be made a few days ahead to save time on the day of assembly. Macerating the cherry tomatoes in red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil adds even more flavor. You can also top it with crumbled feta cheese. Garnish it with parsley, cilantro or mint. It makes a good appetizer for a crowd along with other Mediterranean sides or can be used as a main coarse. I find that I typically have leftovers after I construct the salad, which are just as good the following day. Serve with pita or naan.

MEDITERRANEAN LAYERED SALAD

FOR HUMMUS (from my first cookbook Basics with a Twist:In

  • 2 15 ounce cans of chickpeas, drained but reserving their liquid; save 1/4 cup chickpeas for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

METHOD:

  1. Place drained chickpeas in a four cup glass measuring cup and heat in your microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Heating your chickpeas allows them to break down in the food processor much easier.
  2. Feed your garlic through the tube of your food processor.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except liquid from chickpeas. This liquid will be used to thin the hummus if needed.
  4. Process for at least 3 minutes. Your hummus should be very smooth and creamy. If you feel you need to thin it slightly, add chickpea liquid 1 tablespoon at a time.
  5. Taste for salt and/or additional lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

FOR LAMB:

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout

METHOD:

  1. Brown the ground lamb in a medium sized non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic, onion, pine nuts and Ras el Hanout. Saute until onion is soft and translucent. Depending on the age of the lamb, you may need to take a few paper towels held with tongs and absorb any unwanted fat. This can sit until you are ready to assemble your salad.

FOR VEGETABLES AND GARNISH:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups sliced cucumbers, quartered
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt, such as Maldon
  • 1/4 cup chopped herbs, such as parsley, cilantro or mint
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, (optional)

METHOD:

  1. Place cherry tomatoes in a small bowl; sprinkle with red wine vinegar, olive oil and a little coarse salt. Mix and let macerate for 30 minutes. Keep tomatoes and cucumber separate.
  2. Chop herbs.

ASSEMBLY:

On large decorative platter, spoon hummus over bottom leaving a little space near the edges.  Next top with lamb leaving an edge to show the hummus. Sprinkle reserved chickpeas around the edges.

Sprinkle cucumber over lamb. With a slotted spoon drain cherry tomatoes, then sprinkle them on top of cucumbers. Garnish with herbs. Sprinkle with crumbled feta if using.

Serves 4

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“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” —Alan D. Wolfelt

Anyway You Slice It

I absolutely love Mediterranean food.  No matter if it’s from Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Spain or France, I love it all.  Fresh vegetables, legumes, olives, olive oil, cheese and an array of spices make for endless savory meals.  I find that if something you eat is truly satisfying and delicious, you eat less not more.  This Middle Eastern Tart can be served as an appetizer or entree, depending on whether or not you use both sheets of puff pastry, and how many you are serving.  Served with a salad, it is easily a complete meal.  It comes together pretty quickly and is showy enough for company.  The first time I made it there was left-over filling, which I stuffed into peppers and baked the next day.

MIDDLE EASTERN LAMB TART

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 or 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, choppped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked chick peas (I use canned and drained)
  • 2 teaspoons ras el hanout (page    , or alternatively 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

img_5348

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a saute pan over medium heat add olive oil, onion and garlic until soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Add ground lamb, breaking up the lamb with a spoon and brown, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, olives and spices.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until heated through.  Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (two baking sheets if using both puff pastry sheets).  Roll out slightly, then make a one-inch rimmed line on the inside edges with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way through.  Prick the dough with fork all over in center area.  Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and spoon mixture evenly in the center of each pastry sheet.  Top with feta cheese, brush pastry edges with beaten egg (optional) and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until puffed and edges are golden brown.
  4. Top with chopped parsley and cut into desired portions; 4, 6 or multiple if serving as appetizer.  Serve.

Serves 2-4 as entree

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“Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.” –Harriet von Horne.