A few days after amato mio and I moved into our apartment in Taroudannt, Morocco, I was looking online for meal ideas (which weren’t tagines!), and came across this recipe on the wonderful food blog, Turmeric and Saffron.
Azita’s recipe is for a soup; however, since our apartment had no dishes or bowls, I decided to add more pulses in order to thicken it to make it more stew-like! I also used yoghurt instead of kashk, and whatever vegetables I could get in the souk on that day! I’d like to think that this recipe, like most Italian cucina povera, is made with what one has to hand!
If you’re going to use dried, instead of canned, chickpeas, please remember to soak them in plenty of water for at least five hours before cooking them. I always put them in a pot to soak overnight.
When we were living in Morocco, I found it much more convenient to cook up batches of beans and chickpeas every few days (as we had no supermarkets in our town, everything was cooked absolutely from scratch), and keep them in airtight containers in the ‘fridge – that way I always had some to cook with. Plus cooking them in advance greatly reduces cooking time.
Ash Reshteh (Persian Bean and Lentil Stew)
Nutritional values per serving:
(Please note that these are based on the ingredients I used – your own may be slightly different)
For eight servings:
500g white beans, cooked with a pinch of salt (haricot, cannellini)
500g chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cooked with a pinch of salt
200g dry lentils
400g onions (red or white, or a combination), chopped
1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 medium red pepper, chopped
100g vermicelli (or other small pasta)
50g cabbage, shredded
50g fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
50g fresh coriander leaves, chopped
25g garlic, chopped finely, or smashed
20g fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 tbsp corn oil
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1 litre tap water
Plain yoghurt to serve
(If you haven’t already cooked the chickpeas and beans, do so now in enough water to cover, bring to the boil, then simmer for 45 minutes or so, until they’re starting to get tender. Do check to ensure they don’t boil dry.)
1. Assuming you have already cooked the chickpeas and beans, place them in a large pot with a litre or so of water, and the lentils, red pepper, cauliflower, cabbage, half of the onions, parsley, and half of the coriander. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.
2. While that’s cooking away, gently sauté the rest of the onions in the oil, with the garlic, turmeric, and mint, until golden brown.
3. Stir 1-2 tablespoons of the onion mix into the stew. Add the ground black pepper. Taste – season more if necessary (you might want to add some salt… I don’t but you might!). Add vermicelli, and continue to cook until the pasta is soft (approx 5-10 minutes).
4. Serve in bowls, with some of the onion mixture on top, some yogurt dribbled over, and a sprinkling of the remaining coriander.
This is lovely on its own but equally good with fresh bread too.
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