Moroccan Swiss Chard, Chick Pea and Date Tajine Recipe: Does this sound fabulous and nutritious or what? This past week was the second time in a month I spotted fresh dates at produce markets, and I started grinning nostalgically at this unusual New York site, as if I had run into a long-lost friend, which of course I had in a way. Growing up in Morocco, where avenues are lined with majestic palm trees, we only needed to bend and pick up the dates fallen from their branches. What a heavenly treat! Last week I was shopping for my annual big bash which my husband and I host on the last day of Tishrei Yomtovim, and when I spotted the gorgeous dates in neat symmetrical rows on their stems dates I decided right there and then to give them the rock star treatment in my vegetarian menu, drawing from Moroccan flavor influences. Trust me, this dish needs no meat or poultry, it is really powerful!
This Swiss chard are the best in this tajine, which makes for a very substantial main course, so it is really worth the extra minimal step of soaking the chickpeas and partially cook them before adding them to the remaining faster-cooking ingredients. Still in a pinch I would say OK to use canned, all the way at the end of cooking.
- 1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight and partially boiled, about 45 minutes, reserved
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut in large pieces
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger
- 1 bunch flat parsley
- 1 small bunch cilantro, end stems cut off
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 bunches Swiss chard, stems and leaves, sliced thin (other dark leaves will be OK too: kale, collard, mustard
- 2 cups fresh dates (settle for dry), pitted and quartered
- salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish: 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds or sesame seeds (skip if you can't have nuts or seeds)
Heat the oil in a heavy wide bottom pot. in a food processor, grind the onion coarsely, and add to the pot. Fry the onion on a medium flame until very dark. In a food processor, finely grind the ginger, parsley and cilantro. Add the ground mixture to the pot, plus the cinnamon, and fry 2-3 more minutes. Add the reserved chickpeas plus all remaining ingredients and 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium and cook, covered, 45 minutes. If the liquid in the pot is too thin, raise the flame and cook uncovered another 2-3 minutes, until the liquids thicken. transfer the mixture to a serving platter, and sprinkle with the nuts or seeds just before serving.