Mine is chock-full of delicious stuff: Dates, Swiss chard, almonds. Does this sound fabulous and nutritious or what?
I just spotted fresh dates!
I grin 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.
In Morocco the avenues are lined with majestic palm trees. So 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. So of course 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. It was all decided: I would make a vegetarian menu, drawing liberally from Moroccan flavor influences. Trust me, this dish needs no meat or poultry, it is really powerful!
Of course you will secure fresh dates only occasionally, so no problem using dried dates.
Chickpea tajine makes for a very substantial vegetarian 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 chickpeas.
Play with other leaves to make chickpea tajine:
Spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, kale etc…
- 1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained. Settled for 2 cups canned chickpeas.
- 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 (substitute seeds if you can't have nuts or seeds)
Boil the chickpeas in water for about one hour. Skip this step if you used canned chickpeas.
Drain and reserve.
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 and form a light unctuous sauce.
Transfer the mixture to a serving platter, and sprinkle with the nuts or seeds just before serving.
Makes 8 servings.