Hummus with Harissa Oil, Parsley and Toasted Pita

I don’t keep ready-to-eat products at home, but hummus is a high-protein, healthy (and delicious) exception to that rule.  Made from easily-sourced, individually inexpensive ingredients, hummus is nonetheless becoming expensive to buy already made.  My solution of course, is to make it at home to my own taste..

Hummus with Harissa Oil, Parsley and Toasted Pita

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
3 cups filtered water
2-3 garlic cloves
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1 tablespoon harissa (a Tunisian hot chilli sauce, optional)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup organic white sesame seeds
1/3 cup olive oil, divided

Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat (about 15 minutes).  Allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse repeatedly until broken up, then begin to drizzle in up to 1/4 cup of olive oil while still processing, resulting in a paste with the consistency of thin peanut butter.  This is tahini paste, a component of hummus.  Scrape the tahini into a clean container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Discard any chickpeas that are floating along with the soaking water.  Place the chickpeas in a saucepan and cover with the fresh, filtered water.  Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until just tender, about 1 hour.  Set aside to cool.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked chickpeas to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini and remaining olive oil and process until smooth, adding a little of the chickpea cooking liquid along the way.

Transfer the hummus to a serving bow, drizzle with olive oil mixed with harissa and serve with toasted pita bread.  Leftover hummus will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  Stir a little olive oil into it if it gets dry.

The earliest known recipes for something similar to hummus bi tahini date to 13th century Egypt as a cold purée of chickpeas with vinegar and pickled lemons with herbs, spices, and oil, but no tahini or garlic…

The earliest known documentation of hummus (حمّص) itself comes from 18th-century Damascus;  it appears that it was unknown elsewhere at that timeHummus is high in iron and vitamin C and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini (طحينه) is an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the chickpeas.  Hummus is useful in vegetarian and vegan diets; like other combinations of grains and pulses, it serves as a complete protein when eaten with bread.  –Wikipedia

(Vegetarian) Israeli Couscous with Fresh Vegetables, Harissa and Mint

Two kinds of couscous (pearled and Israeli whole wheat) are sautéed in olive oil, then simmered in a rich, homemade vegetable stock flavored with harissa and fresh mint and tossed with a medley of lightly-cooked, seasonal vegetables..

Israeli Couscous with Fresh Vegetables, Harissa and Mint

1/2 cup pearled couscous
1/2 cup Israeli whole wheat couscous (Ptitim)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups homemade vegetable stock, boiling
1 to 2 teaspoons harissa
1 small bunch fresh mint, chopped
2 carrots, cut into small, oblique shapes, about 1/2 cup
1-2 large spring onions, including green tops, bias-cut, about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup fresh green peas
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Sauté couscous in olive oil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to coat evenly.  Add boiling vegetable stock and harissa, reduce to a simmer and cook until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed, about 8 minutes.  Stir in peas and mint, cover and remove from heat.

Sauté carrots, garlic and onions in olive oil,  stirring frequently until just softened.  Stir in tomatoes and cook 1 minute longer.

Stir cooked vegetables into warm couscous and serve garnished with fresh mint.  Offer harissa on the side if desired.

This post is part of Meatless Monday, a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health

Moroccan Spiced Lamb and Couscous with Garlic, Fresh Mint and Preserved Lemon

Local, pastured lamb (Menzie’s Farm, Harper, TX) is ground and tossed with diced onions and freshly-ground ras el hanout, then seared in clarified butter with homemade harissa.  Served over stock-simmered couscous with garlic, fresh mint and Jenny’s  Moroccan preserved lemons..

Moroccan Spiced Lamb & Couscous with Garlic, Fresh Mint and Preserved Lemon

 

For the Ras el Hanout (recipe by Christine Benlafquih)

2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
2 teaspoons ground mace
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Blend all of the spices in a bowl. Transfer to an air-tight glass jar and store in a dry, dark place for up to several months

For the Harissa (recipe by Christine Benlafquih)

12 to 15 dried red chili peppers (approx. 1 1/2 oz. or 100 g)
3 or 4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds (optional)
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice
olive oil

Remove the seeds from the dried chili peppers and place them in a bowl. Cover them with very hot water and leave to soften for 30 minutes to an hour.

Drain the chili peppers, and gently squeeze out excess water with a paper towel. Using a mortar and pestle (or a blender or mini food processor) grind the chili peppers, garlic, salt and spices to a paste. Add the lemon juice and just enough olive oil to moisten the harissa, or add additional olive oil to thin it.

Store unused harissa in an airtight container in the fridge. For long storage, lightly top the harissa with a little oil before covering.

For the Lamb

1 lb freshly ground lamb
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee
1-1/2 tablespoons harissa

For the Couscous

1 cup couscous (Israeli whole wheat is particularly nice)
2 cups vegetable stock or filtered water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
half of a Moroccan preserved lemon, diced
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the couscous and garlic and stir to coat.  Continue cooking until garlic is soft but not browned, about 3 minutes.

Add stock or water, increase heat and bring to a low boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add mint, lemon and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover, remove from heat and let stand 8 minutes.  Fluff with a fork before serving.

To Prepare

Heat butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Pinch off pieces of lamb about the size and shape of a ping pong ball and sauté in butter until golden brown on all sides.

Stir in harissa and toss to coat.

Place couscous in bowl and arrange lamb over the top.  Pour some of the harissa butter over the top and serve hot with additional ras el hanout, lemon and mint.

Ras El Hanout is a complex, aromatic Moroccan spice blend.  Most recipes include cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, various peppers, and turmeric, but 30 or more ingredients might be used.

Ras El Hanout’s literal translation from Arabic is “head of the shop,” meaning “the best (or top) of the shop.”

  • Marcus Samuelsson Cooks Up Healthy Food in Harlem (harlemworldblog.wordpress.com)
  • 5 favorite dishes to cook with kids (eatocracy.cnn.com)

North African-style Kefta Kebab with Vegetable Couscous

Local, pastured lamb is ground with cinnamon, coriander, cumin and mint before being skewered, seared and flash-roasted with fiery harissa..

Kefta Kebab with Vegetable Couscous

For the Harissa

8-10 dried red chili peppers such as arbol (hot) or ancho (mild)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
rose water

Split the chilies and remove the stems and seeds.  Toast briefly in a dry skillet then set aside to cool.  Toast the whole spices until fragrant, then pour into the bowl of a food processor.  Add chilies, garlic and oil and pulse into a thick paste.  Adjust consistency with water and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

(the following are adapted from recipes by Claudia Roden)

For the Couscous

Pour 1 cup couscous into an oven dish.  Gradually pour in 1 cup warm salted water and allow to stand 10 minutes.  Mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil, then rub the grains between your hands to break up any lumps.  Place the dish into a 400 degree oven until steaming hot (about 15-20 minutes).  Stir in 1/2 cup hot vegetable stock, then toss with additional olive oil, chopped parsley and mint.  Add a little salt if you think it needs it.

For the Lamb

1/2 pound freshly-ground lamb, about 75% lean
1/3 small onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin, toasted and ground
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
small handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Roll seasoned lamb into large balls, then thread onto skewers.  Press lamb into something resembling a short, thick cigar.  Allow to stand 20 minutes, then sear over medium-high heat until well-browned and a crispy outer crust has formed.  Paint the kebabs with harissa, then flash in a 400 degree oven until pink on the inside, about 10 minutes.

To serve family-style, place a bowl of vegetable broth in the center of a serving dish and spoon couscous around the perimeter.  Drizzle the couscous with a little oil and/or broth to keep it moist, then arrange lamb kebabs over the top.  Offer a pinch pot of ground cumin on the side.

This post is part of the Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday!