Moroccan chickpeas & spinach with preserved lemon & couscous recipe image

Print Moroccan chickpeas & spinach with preserved lemon & couscous

Ras el hanout literally means ‘top of the shop’ in Arabic. A mixture of aromatic spices, it’s good for flavouring tagines and also as a spice rub. It contains all sorts of aromatic herbs and spices, and often includes rose petals.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • Oil for frying e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 100g couscous
  • Olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 300g baby spinach
  • 1 piece preserved lemon
  • 30g parsley
  • 15g fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 60g pitted black olives
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Put a large pan of water on to boil for the spinach later. Peel and finely dice the onion. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan. Add the onion and fry on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring now and then until soft and translucent. If it starts to look like catching at any point, add a splash of water.
  2. Meanwhile, boil a kettle of water. Put the couscous in a heatproof bowl, adding a good glug of olive oil and a pinch of two of salt. Pour over enough boiled water to come 1cm over the couscous. Leave to stand.
  3. Peel and finely chop, grate or crush 1 garlic clove. Wash the spinach. Scoop and discard the flesh out of the preserved lemon piece, keeping the rind (see cook’s note). Finely chop the rind. Wash the parsley and mint, and shake both dry, or pat with kitchen paper, if you have any.
  4. After 10 minutes, add the garlic to the onion. Fry for 2 minutes. Add the ras el hanout, chopped preserved lemon rind, tin of chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring up to a low boil. Simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, finely chop the fresh parsley and mint leaves. Empty the chickpeas into a colander and rinse well. Add the chickpeas to the tomato sauce, along with the olives, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Top up with a splash of water if it looks like it’s getting too dry.
  6. Meanwhile, boil the spinach in the pan of boiling water for about 1 minute, until just wilted. Drain and run under cold water to cool it. Use you hands to squeeze excess moisture from the spinach leaves then chop it up. Add the spinach and three quarters of the fresh herbs to the chickpea mixture.
  7. Check the seasoning. Fluff up the couscous. Squeeze the juice from half the lemon into the couscous, adding a glug of olive oil and more salt to taste. Serve the couscous into bowls and top with the chickpeas and spinach, sprinkled with the remaining herbs.

Cooks notes

Preserved lemons are often used in North African dishes. They add a real depth of flavour and a salty tang to dishes. Only the rind is used, as the lemons are so salty.
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