Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CSA week three - Morshan

This recipe is all over the web, cut and pasted on recipe sites and blogs (usually minus attribution and copyright information. This seems to be the origin.), but I can't find any indication that anyone's actually made it.

That's not right; somebody needs to step up, cook it and find out if it's any good and it may as well be me. I want to make this post easy to find for anyone who finds all the other copies so I'm not going to modify or rewrite it at all, just cut and paste like everyone else.

Chickpeas and Swiss Chard in the Style Tunisian Sahel (Morshan)

Recipe from: Mediterranean Cooking, Revised Edition, Copyright ©1994 by Paula Wolfert

Makes 4 servings

3/4 pound Swiss chard leaves, stemmed, rinsed and torn into large pieces [My CSA bunch yielded a half pound of leaves so I added in the thinner stems.]
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 small dried red chile
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup cooked chickpeas with 3/4 cup cooking liquid [There's about 3/4 cup liquid in a can of chickpeas so that worked out fine.]
1 lemon, cut in wedges, optional

1. In pot steam, parboil or microwave chard leaves until tender, about 5 minutes. [Our chard started out pretty tender so I cut this down to 2 minutes]

2. Set leaves in colander to drain.

3. Squeeze out excess moisture and shred coarsely.

4. Crush garlic in mortar with salt, coriander and chile until thick, crumbly paste forms.

5. Heat olive oil in 10-inch skillet and saute onion until pale-golden.

6. Add garlic paste and tomato paste and stir into oil until sizzling.

7. Add chard, cooked chickpeas and cooking liquid and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

8. Remove from heat and let stand until ready to serve. (Contents of skillet should be very moist but not soupy. For looser texture, stir in more chick pea cooking liquid.)

9. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold with lemon wedges.

It's not bad, but not really inspired either. Maybe its because I haven't had a bowl of greens that wasn't callaloo in a while, but the chard seems really blah. The subtle spice and lemon are nice, but there's nothing much else going on here. I expect bigger flavors from Tunisian cooking. Judging from the other recipes on Ms. Wolfert's site, I think this has been wimped out for the Western palate and probably chard has been substituted in for another, more flavorful, green. It's a shame I couldn't find any other recipes for the dish for comparison.


kat said...

I think I've made something very similar to this & felt the same way as you.

LaDivaCucina said...

Bill, what are you doing with the betel leaf? I tried a Thai recipe with shredded carrot and it was horrible, very medicine like. I went to Marian's site Redland Rambles and Margie commented that it was better cooked and imparted a smoky flavor. You are pretty adventurous in your cooking and I'm curious! Thanks!

billjac said...

I was planning on making
recipe for beef stir fried with lemongrass and betel leaves. But I'm feeling poorly so I may not get around to it before the leaves start rotting.