My mom occasionally cuts recipes out of the newspaper, scans them and then e-mails them to me. I’ve got a bunch (where a bunch is probably more than 10) pdfs in my recipes folder, each named by the date she scanned the recipe. Usually, unless I cook one of these soon after she sends it, I tend to forget about them, mostly because they’re not labelled. I should probably fix that.
In any case, she sent me a recipe for lablabi this week, which I’ve made today.
Lablabi (Tunisian chickpea stew) – link
Lablabi tastes best when made with dried chickpeas, as the beans create their own delicate broth while they simmer, but if you don’t have the time to cooked dried beans—which takes about 1 hour—a canned version will substitute. A filling meal in itself, the soup can stand alone or be paired simply with a light, crunchy salad and mint tea.
8 ounces (1½ cups) dried chickpeas, sorted and soaked at least 4 hours (or 2 15½-ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained)
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
4 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and freshly ground
1 tablespoon Tunisian harissa, plus more for serving
Approximately 4 cups day-old bread (the equivalent of 4 crusty rolls or 4 slices rustic bread)
½ preserved lemon, or more to taste
4 eggs (optional)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 sun-dried tomatoes packed in extra-virgin olive oil, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
What To Do
1. Drain the chickpeas. Put them into a medium soup pot with 2 quarts water. Add 3 garlic cloves and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, adjust to a very gentle simmer, and cook until barely tender, about 45 minutes. Add 1½ teaspoons salt and continue simmering until tender, another 15 to 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. If you wish to work ahead, the chickpeas may be cooked, cooled, and refrigerated for several days at this point. (If using canned chickpeas instead of dried chickpeas, combine chickpeas with 6 cups water or broth and proceed with recipe starting with step 2.)
2. To make the soup: Mince remaining garlic cloves and add to the chickpeas along with 2 teaspoons cumin and the harissa. Cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes. Tear the day-old bread into small bite-sized pieces. Rinse the preserved lemon and remove its seeds and, if desired, the pulp. (You may eat only the rind or the rind and pulp). Cut rind in half lengthwise and slice thinly. If using eggs, poach them until the whites are just set (about 3 minutes) and transfer to a bowl of cool water until ready to serve.
4. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and the juice of half a lemon to the soup, simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste. The broth should be seasoned but not overly salty, as some of the garnishes are salty.
5. To serve, divide bread among 4 deep soup bowls. Ladle hot soup and chickpeas over the bread. Settle a poached egg on top, if desired. Garnish each bowl with several slices of preserved lemon, chopped parsley, sun-dried tomato, capers, a dollop of harissa, a pinch of cumin, a drizzle of olive oil and the remaining lemon juice. (Alternatively, arrange all the garnishes in small dishes on the table, and invite everyone to top their own bowls.) Stir the soup, breaking up the egg and distributing the garnishes, before eating.
Notes: Haven’t tried it yet, though I did taste it as advised in step 4. It’s interesting (not in a bad way). The broth itself is very thin, but I suppose the bread bits will help with that. I didn’t use preserved lemon (couldn’t find it, though I didn’t search too much), used canned chickpeas because I had them already (otherwise I would’ve used dried), and harissa was difficult to find only because Tesco insisted it was spelled harrisa.
So that’ll be two meals at some point this week. I also made taco soup (it is nice to be able to just dump a bunch of cans into a crockpot and not have to think about anything sometimes … though ranch dressing packets do not exist here).
Dinner tonight will be biscuits and (vegetarian) gravy, which I am hoping will result in somehow killing Dave’s cold d-e-d, because he is currently asleep on the couch and snoring because his nose is blocked up.
Our lunches this week will not be exciting, as they will be PB&J, but both the bread and the jelly are homemade (though it’s really more of a jam than a jelly. Anyway).
Oh, and I made Oreo cupcakes for Dave’s birthday, which was a few weeks ago when we were away. I figured I should make him something anyway. I still need to frost these, though. If they look alright, I may take a picture. (Ooher.)
Work tomorrow? Yugh. At least the food should be OK.