Moroccan Inspired Chickpeas

Moroccan Inspired Chickpeas Recipe

After the interview with Las Vegas Chef Pinisetti, I was determined to try out his version of harissa. We made a batch over Labor Day Weekend using red chiles from the garden. I had about 2-3 tablespoons leftover that I didn't want to go to waste.

I decided to make a loose interpretation of an Indian dish called chole, where I replaced the garam masala, ginger garlic paste and amchur (dried mango powder) with Moroccan flavors. I added the leftover harissa to the dish and made a spicy cream cheese sauce to season the chickpeas. Sautéed mushrooms added a "meaty" texture and pieces of preserved lemons, raw onions and tomatoes cut the richness of the dish.

It was such a hit in my house with both the vegetarians and meat eaters that I’m sure to make it again soon. They said it was like a spicy mushroom stroganoff. That wasn’t exactly what I was going for, but they liked it. It’s interesting how flavor combinations can evoke memories of totally different foods. Over the summer I made Earl Grey ice cream and everyone said it tasted like Fruit Loops. Go figure!

Ingredients

Yields: 8 servings

2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups button mushrooms, sliced thick, lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons harissa (click on the link for the recipe)
3 tablespoons cream cheese
½ cup heavy cream, freshly whipped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large ripe tomato, cored and diced
juice of a lemon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 preserved lemon in olive oil, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped


Directions

Prepping the tomato relish:

In a serving bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of chopped onions, mustard, cumin, sugar, chopped preserved lemon and the chopped tomato. Drizzle with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes to let all the flavors blend together. Garnish with 1 tablespoon of parsley.

For the spicy cream cheese: In a bowl, combine the cream cheese with harissa. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese.

Sautéing the mushrooms:

In a large non-stick pan, heat the oil. Cook the rest of the onions for about 6-8 minutes until soft and nicely golden. Leaving as much oil as possible in the pan, transfer half the amount to another platter and leave the rest in the pan. Add the mushrooms. Toss well in the onions and cook for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter.

Assembly time:

In the pan, add more oil if necessary (I didn't). Add the garbanzo beans, reserved onions and 1 (to 1-½ cups) of water; the water should barely cover the garbanzo beans. Bring to a boil for about 3-4 minutes. Once the water evaporates, add the spicy cream cheese and lower to a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes and keep stirring every now and then so the beans don't stick to the bottom of the pot. The garbanzo beans should be soft when gently pressed and crushed between your thumb and index finger (add more water and cook a bit longer if not fully cooked).

Finish with the tomato relish and sautéed mushrooms and turn off the heat. Stir well. Check seasoning, cover and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with more parsley.

I served the chickpeas as a side dish with sautéed parslied potatoes and beef skirt steaks but you could make lamb to repeat the Moroccan theme.

Bon appétit!


Tips

You could cook this dish with dried garbanzo beans but it would take a lot longer. You might want to use  a pressure cooker for faster cooking time.

If you want to make a milder version, substitute herbed cheese for the harissa cream cheese sauce.

You could also serve this chickpea dish as appetizers by wrapping the filling in crêpes (check my Beggar's purse recipe).

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on September 8, 2010.


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