Moroccan-style chickpea stew with couscous

Moroccan-style chickpea stew with couscousThis Moroccan-style chickpea and red lentil stew with harissa, lemon and mint couscous is something I’ve made a few times before, so I thought it was about time that I recorded the recipe in some way so that my husband can make it for me every so often.

I’m not sure how genuinely Moroccan it really is, but the combination of spices is something I’ve come across in other Moroccan recipes before, so I’ll tentatively say that it’s in the style of an authentic Moroccan chickpea stew, if I may.

It’s really easy to make, especially if you get the stew started then prepare the couscous so that it ‘cooks’ in its own steam while the stew is simmering away. Then all you have to do is prepare your cheese of choice – I used feta here but I actually usually serve the stew with halloumi – and away you go!

Moroccan-style chickpea stew with couscous

Moroccan-style chickpea and red lentil stew with harissa, lemon and mint couscous

Serves 2-3

  • 1 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 0.5 pepper of your colour of choice, finely chopped (you can also throw in some fresh or frozen spinach instead of/in addition to the peppers)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 fresh chilli, finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp red chilli powder
  • 0.5 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp ground turmeric
  • 200g tinned chopped or plum tomatoes
  • 50-75g red lentils
  • 400g tinned chickpeas
  • juice of half a lemon
  • chopped coriander or flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • cubed feta or sliced and griddled halloumi (see tip below), to serve (optional but highly recommended!)

For the couscous:

  • 175g couscous
  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • handful of fresh mint leaves
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Cook the onions and peppers until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and fresh chilli and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and spices. Simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Add the red lentils, chickpeas and enough water to cover everything. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for around 20 minutes, or until the red lentils are soft, stirring occasionally and adding more water if required.
  5. While the stew is cooking, prepare the couscous by placing it in a heatproof bowl and adding the harissa, lemon zest, mint and seasoning. You can also add a little olive oil if you like. Add enough boiling water to just about cover the couscous, then cover the bowl with a plate and leave to one side.
  6. Add the lemon juice, coriander or parsley and seasoning to the stew, and stir well. Take the stew off the heat.
  7. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and serve alongside the stew and the cheese of your choice.

Tip: to cook halloumi to perfection, simply cut it up into thick slices, heat a frying pan until very hot, then add the halloumi and fry it for 1-2 mins, or until brown underneath. Flip each slice over and cook for another 1-2 minutes until brown on the other side. That’s it! Don’t cook it in oil – this seems to take away the slightly crisp texture.

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Spinach and feta pizza pie

Spinach and feta pizza pie
This is a bit of an impromptu post; I wasn’t intending to blog about this spinach and feta pizza pie I made a couple of days ago, but I was asked for the recipe after posting a photo on Instagram and I thought I might as well get a blog post out of it!

In case you don’t know what a pizza pie (or deep dish pizza) is, it’s basically a pie made out of pizza dough with a filling in the middle and a conventional cheese and tomato topping (with whatever else you want to throw on top). It’s just the BEST invention if you love pizza!

I’ve made this with my boyfriend a couple of times before; the first time went well, but the pizza dough was a bit of a disaster the second time. However, I’m pleased to report that it went swimmingly this time round.

There’s a bit of effort involved with this wondrous creation, but it’s well worth it. The filling isn’t too difficult to knock up, but you need to prepare the spinach properly so it doesn’t go watery during baking.

Unfortunately, we haven’t managed to quite get the knack of it, but it’s still delicious regardless of how watery the filling is.

It’s worth either following the original recipe exactly (so use both Swiss chard and spinach, instead of just spinach as we’ve always done due to not being able to find Swiss chard in the shops) or using an alternative filling – I reckon roasted vegetables and mozzarella would work really well, or even a bolognese sauce.

Spinach and feta pizza pie
Apologies for the lack of photos, but I would have taken more if I’d known I was going to write a blog! The recipe below is based on this one. I originally found it in Vegetarian Living magazine, but it looks like the online version is a bit different, so the below is the version I’ve got with some extra changes/suggestions based on my experience of making this.

Spinach and feta pizza pie recipe

Serves 6

For the pizza crust dough:

  • 7g fast action yeast
  • 185ml lukewarm water
  • 0.75 tsp sugar
  • 225g strong flour, plus extra for rolling/dusting
  • 50g polenta
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

For the tomato sauce (or use 200-250ml ready-made pizza sauce):

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 30g butter
  • 0.5 onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 sundried tomatoes, drained of oil
  • 0.5 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

For the filling:

  • 850g Swiss chard (or spinach, but beware of the wateriness!)
  • 250g spinach (frozen is – bizarrely – less watery than fresh. Defrost it first.)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped chives or spring onions
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 265g cottage cheese (drain off any excess water)
  • 250g feta, crumbled
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp chopped oregano (or use dried oregano)
  • salt and black pepper
  • 35g pecorino cheese, grated + 1 tbsp extra (or use parmesan)

To make the pizza pie crust:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1.5 tbsp of the lukewarm water.
  2. Add the sugar and 1.5 tbsp of the flour, and mix well.
  3. Cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for 15 minutes.
  4. Add about half of the remaining water, all of the remaining flour, and the polenta, salt and olive oil, and mix well, adding more water if needed to create a soft dough that’s not too wet. Use the heel of your hands to work the dough for 5 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.
  5. Lightly grease the inside of another large bowl with olive oil and transfer the dough to it. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove for 45-60 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. While it’s proving, make the tomato sauce (see below).
  6. Dust a work surface with flour and tip out the dough. Knock it back with one good punch to let any air out. Cup your hands over the dough and roll it around on the surface to create a smooth ball.
  7. Place the dough on a lightly greased baking tray, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove again for 15 minutes.

To make the tomato sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan until the butter has melted.
  2. Add the garlic and onion and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, until well softened.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, sundried tomatoes and oregano, and simmer until the sauce has reduced to a rich, thick consistency – about 15 mins.
  4. Season to taste. Set aside and leave to cool.

To make the filling and assemble the pizza pie:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
  2. Remove the woody stalks from the Swiss chard and spinach (if using fresh). Blanch the leaves for 2 minutes in salted boiling water then drain well, squeezing out the excess moisture with your hands and then wringing out any remaining moisture with a clean tea towel. At this point you can try to dry out the leaves further in the oven, on a low heat setting.
  3. Chop the leaves very finely and combine with the chives/spring onions, dill, cottage cheese, feta, eggs, oregano and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin with olive oil and lightly dust a work surface.
  5. Separate the pizza crust dough into two balls, one weighing around 330g and the other around 170g.
  6. Roll out the larger ball of dough into a 35cm circle that’s about 3mm thick.
  7. Gently fit the dough to the cake tin, pressing firmly into the corners and up the sides so that there’s a 2.5cm overhang. Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Spoon the filling into the dough-lined tin and spread evenly.
  9. Roll out the remaining dough into a 20cm wide, 3mm thick circle. Prick it all over with a fork.
  10. Place the circle of dough on top of the filling in the tin. Fold the overhang of the other piece of dough over the top to form a thick edge.
  11. Spoon the tomato sauce on top and spread evenly.
  12. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and bake the pizza pie for 15 mins, before rotating it and baking for another 15 minutes.
  13. Sprinkle the pecorino or parmesan on top and bake for a final 15 minutes or until the pizza is golden and crisp.
  14. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp of pecorino/parmesan on top.
  15. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before releasing the pie from the tin. Serve and enjoy your pizza pie!

First bake: feta and courgette muffins

Feta and courgette muffinsOne of my favourite savoury bakes EVER is Dan Lepard’s courgette and mozzarella muffins, which are absolutely delicious and ridiculously easy to make. I had a hankering the other day to make something savoury while experimenting a little, so I decided to draw inspiration from both Mr Lepard and my penchant for Greek flavours.

I used this recipe as a jumping-off point, and added a few more ingredients – sundried tomatoes, red onion, parsley and paprika. I nearly added some black olives but decided not to in case it ws overkill, but I think I’ll add them next time, just because I do love a good olive!

Feta and courgette muffin mix

Feta and courgette muffin mix

The result was a lovely batch of soft, flavoursome muffins with a hint of spice. This being me, I would definitely add more paprika and maybe a generous amount of dried chilli flakes a la Dan Lepard, too, as I like a bit of a stronger kick. Otherwise, I would say my little experiment was a big success!

Feta and courgette muffins

The recipe

This is pretty much what I did, but with a few additions to ramp it up a bit!

Makes 12 muffins

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 115 ml olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 175g grated courgette (about 1 large courgette)
  • 115g crumbled feta cheese (I used Greek-style salad cheese)
  • 2-3 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • half a red onion, finely chopped
  • 7-8 pitted black olives, sliced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 175°C/gas mark 4 and place paper muffin cases in a 12-hole muffin tray.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, paprika and chilli flakes in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs and oil in another bowl until smooth.
  4. Stir the courgettes, feta, onion, sundried tomatoes, olives and parsley into the oil mix.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix and stir until just combined.
  6. Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before eating.