Friday, May 6, 2011

CHICKPEA & FENNEL SALAD - WHEN ITALY MEETS MOROCCO

Chickpea Salad Picnik collage 5 bis
The unique, tantilizing, heady and sunny flavors of Italy and Morocco have been rocking my world since a long time now. Already, when I still lived at home, I ate quite a few classic Italian dishes such as "Lasagne", "Pasta Alla Bolognese", "Ravioli Ai Funghi", "Ravioli Alla Ricotta E Spinaci", "Ravioli Alla Carne" (we bought the Ravioli from a caterer whom you can find selling his homemade goodies at the Geneva markets) and "Pizza". My parents being quite open food-wise, I was also blessed have the possibility to taste certain Moroccan specialities such as "Tajine" and "Couscous". Yet, although I am not new to those sunny Mediterranean cuisines, I still have a lot to discover as both are very multifaceted, offer an enormous variety of recipes and their repertoire is practically bottomless.

The food of both countries has always attracted me as it is authentic, convivial, rich in traditions, extremely palatable, wonderfully refined in it's apparent simplicity, rich in herbs and spices, so colorful, very seasonal and really healthy (lots of vegetables, olive oil as well as good protein and not many fatty sauces). With not much it is possible to create fantastic dishes with colossal visual appeal and intense gusto...

As summer is appraoching fastly and we are lucky to be able to find all kinds of amazing spring vegetables and fruits (strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, fennel, mushrooms, fresh garlic, etc...) on the stalls of our local farmers' markets, I am once again dreaming of making fabulous Italian and Moroccan dishes that remind me of the warmth of the hot days and the relaxed atmosphere surrounding that season.

Well, last Saturday, while watching Jamie Oliver's "Jamie Does Venice" and "Jamie Does Marakkech" series (from the "Jamie Does..." TV show), I started craving the fares of Italy and Morocco. The young, cheeky, bubbly, playful and energetic British chef's enthousiasm for the incomparable food of those regions of the globe caught me and his boundless love for laidback meals gave me countless ideas. Cooks who know how to communicate emotions as well as joyfulness through their cookbooks or television programs and whose passion for all things edible is contagious always stimulate my creativity and cooking mojo. They have the art of inspiring me and making my brain spin.

My fertile imagination ran wild and within a few seconds, my blank piece of paper got filled with all sorts of disorganized scribblings and an embryo of recipe took shape. Since the temperatures are rising and picnics are trendy again, I absolutely wanted to put together a salad that imperatively had to contain Swiss as well as seasonal veggies (you know my nature-friendly philosophy) and ingredients I particularly enjoy at the moment.

So, I decided to use chickpeas and lightly pan-fried fennel as a base for my salad. Then, I found that it would be interesting if I incorporated a lemony, "Ras El Hanout" and safron infused tomato sauce to wet the whole (I know whjat you are going to say about out of season produces, yet I am partially to blame here! I could not restrain from buying Geneva tomatoes from the supermarket. Not too seasonal maybe, but at least they are grown regionally), and I added a little chopped basil for an additional Italian twist. Then, once the salad had been plated, I shaved some pungent Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzled quality Jordan virgin olive oil over the top of my creation.

I would definitely lie if I told you that I was not proud of this "chef-d'oeuvre". My complexly fragrant "Italo-Mauresque Chickpea And Fennel Salad" was extremely delectable. Even my boyfriend who is not the biggest fan of legumes gobbled it and asked for seconds. The aromas of Italy and Morocco (some ingredients employed are common to both lands) blended together harmoniously to constitute a well-balanced, exquisite, summery and fulfilling dish. Never was a wedding between two different nations more perfect and sublime!

My description might have enlightened you on the nature of this gorgeous salad, but I'm sure that some of you are wondering what "Ras El Hanout" is. Rest assured, dear friends. As usual, you will not leave this blog without learning something new (I hope) from Professor Foodfreak...

"Ras El Hanout", is the king of spices in North Africa. Not surprisingly, its Arabic name translates to "head/top of the shop" and refers to a mixture of the best spices that a seller has to offer. This blend is composed of numerous different spices. Depending on the variety, certain mixes can hold up to hundred spices. Some of them are bright yellow like madras curry, certain are vibrant red and others are murky brown. Each cook, person, company and spice dealer has their own recipe of which they are proud and a combination that they carefully keep secret. Not only are all mixes unique, but they also vary from region to region, country to country and household to household.

In most "Ras El Hanout" you recognize spices such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ground chilli peppers, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, peppercorn and turmeric, but with some more elaborate versions you'll have problems knowing what they are made of for they also include rare spices such as ash berries, chufa, grains of paradise, orris root, monk's pepper, cubeb and dried rosebuds. Usually all ingredients are toasted before they are ground up together.

In Morocco it is commonly referred to as the "lazy cook's spice". The reason for this nickname is that no matter what you add it to, it will always give that extra oomph or umami flavor to your dishes and will drastically uplift the taste of your food. Generously sprinkled into balmy tajines, incorporated into broths and couscous, added to liquid for poaching fruits, rubbed into meat or stirred into rice, it'll be impossible for you not to fall under the charm of that intoxicating and addictive seasoning. Maghrebans even believe it is an aphrodisiac, so you have been warned!

Chickpea Salad Picnik collage 4 bis
~ Italo-Mauresque Chickpea & Fennel Salad ~
Recipe by Rosa Mayland @Rosa's Yummy Yums, May 2011.

Serves 2.

Ingredients for the "Spicy Tomato Sauce":
6 Tbs Olive oil
1 Medium Onion, chopped
4 Cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tsp Ras el hanout
1 Pinch (0.125g) Ground safron
2 Medium Tomatoes, chopped coarsely
8 Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
The zest of half a lemon
3 Tbs Fish sauce
2 Tbs Dark balsamic vinegar
1 Tsp Red Tabasco
Sea salt, to taste
Ingredients for the "Salad":
1 Medium fennel, cut into thin slices
2 Tbs Olive oil
260g Cooked chickpeas
1 Handful Basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Shaven parmesan cheese, to taste
A few basil leaves, to decorate
Olive oil, to drizzle over the salad

Chickpea Salad Tomatoes 1 5 bis
Method for the "Spicy Tomato Sauce":
1. Place a sauté pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the olive oil (6 Tbs) and the chopped onion. Stir-fry 1 minute, then add the sliced garlic and continue stir-frying for another minute.
2. Add the ras el
hanout, safron and stir once, then immediately add the tomatoes, zest, fish sauce, balsamic vinegar, Tabasco and salt.
3. Let cook
over low heat, about 12 minutes (stir regularly and crush the tomatoes), until it resembles a thickish and homogenous sauce. Remove from the heat and let cool (it has to reach room temperature).
Method for the "Salad":
4. Place a sauté pan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the olive oil (2 Tbs) and the sliced fennel. Stir-fry for 6-8 minutes (the fennel should be cooked, but still snappy). Remove from the heat and let cool at room temperature.
5. In a medium salad bowl, mix together the chickpeas, fennel and basil.
6. Add the tomato sauce. Pepper and salt to taste. Mix well.
7. Serve on 4 ind
ividual plates. Top with shaved Parmesan, basil leaves and drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil (to taste).

Remarks:

You can replace the chickpeas by any other legume of your choice (Borlotti beans,
fava beans, white beans, etc...).
Serve that salad at room temperature, so that all the flavors are fully developped.

Serving suggestions:
Serve some with pan-fried fish and sourdough bread.
Accompany with dry white wine (Pinot Grigio) or with a spicy rosé from Prove
nce (Bandol)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chickpea Salad Picnik collage 3 bis
~ Salade Italo-Mauresque Aux Pois Chiches Et Fenouil ~
Recette par Rosa Mayland @Rosa's Yummy Yums, mai 2011.

Pour 2 personnes.

Ingrédients pour la "Sauce Epicée A La Tomate":
6 CS d'Huile d'olive
1 Oignon moyen, haché
4 Gousses d'ail frais, coupées en fines tranches
1 1/2 CC de Ras el hanout
1 Pincée (0.125g) de Safran en poudre
2 Tomates moyennes, hachées grossièrement
8 Tomates cerises, coupées en deux
Le zeste d'un demi citron
3 CS de Sauce de poisson
2 CS de Vinaigre balsamique foncé
1 CC de Tabasco rouge
Sel de mer, à volonté
Ingrédients pour la "Salade":
1 Fenouil moyen, coupé en fines tranches
2 CS d'Huile d'olive
260g de Pois chiches cuits
1 Poignée de Feuilles de basilic, grossièrement haché
Sel de mer, à volonté
Poivre noir fraîchement moulu, à volonté
Parmesan, en copeaux (à volonté)
Quelques feuilles de basilic, pour décorer
Huile d'olive, pour verser en petite quantité sur la salade

Méthode pour la "Sauce Epicée A La Tomate":
1. Faire chauffer une poêle à feu moyen pendant environ 3 minutes. Ajouter l'huile d'olive (6 CS) et l'oignon haché. Faire revenir pendant 1 minute, puis ajouter l'ail et continuer de faire suer.
2. Ajouter le ras el hanout, le safran et mélanger rapidement, puis immédiatement aj
outer les tomates, le zeste, la sauce de poisson, le vinaigre balsamique, le Tabasco et le sel.
3. Cuire à température basse pendant environ 12 minutes, jusqu'à obtention d'une sauce assez épaisse et homogène. Retirer du feu et laisser refroidir (il faut que la sauce soit à
température ambiante).

Chickpea Salad Picnik collage 2 bis
Méthode pour la "Salade":
4. Faire chauffer une poêle à feu moyen. Une fois qu'elle est chaude, ajoute
r l'huile d'olive (2 CS) et le fenouil. Faire revenir en remuant constamment pendant environ 6-8 minutes (le fenouil doit être cuit mais pas encore croquant). Retirer du feu et faire refroidir à température ambiante.
5. Dans un bol moyen, mélanger ensemble les pois chiches, le fenouil et le basilic haché.

6. Ajouter la sauce tomate. Poivrer et saler. Bien mélanger.
7. Disposer dans les assiettes, ajouter le parmesan et les feuilles de basilique dessus, puis verser un filet d'huile d'olive (à volonté).


Remarques:
Vous pouvez remplacer les pois chiches avec les légumineuses de votre choix (bolotti, fèves, haricots blancs, etc...).
Servir cette salade à température ambiante. De cette manière, les saveurs auront pû se développer.

Idées de présentation:
Servir avec du poisson grillé et accompagner avec du pain au levain ainsi qu'un vin blanc sec (Pinot Grigio) ou un rosé de Provence épicé (Bandol).


Chickpea Salad Picnik collage 1 bis

98 comments:

  1. Oh wow, this sounds like a great flavor combination.

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  2. Oh Rosa this is filling the house with wonderfulness !

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  3. Oh I love how you describe your salad. It looks super gorgeous either in colour or presentation. As usual, you have such stunning pictures. Hope you're enjoying your weekend.
    Blessings, Kristy

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  4. Wonderful combination of ingredients. I love these kinds of salads.

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  5. This is really awesome. Chickpeas are fantastic, they are fairly neutral to complement most dishes. I need to try ras el hanout

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  6. Perfect timing. Chickpeas are on my list this week. Thanks for posting this. And, as always, the pictures are truly inspiring, Rosa. xo

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  7. sounds and looks amazing,rosa,your salad!

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  8. What a great combination of flavours! Love it!
    Cheers:)

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  9. This sounds absolutely divine, Rosa! I adore chickpeas so this dish is right up my alley :-)

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  10. I usually eat chickpeas in a form of hummus, but I imagine in this salad they must taste amazing :)

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  11. looking so light and delicious ..
    Love the tomato pic .. the effect is very different !

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  12. Un plat avec pleins de saveurs du sud ! Je suis conquise !! Ca à l'air trop bon !!

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  13. Rosa, I love the way you combine food from two sunny regions. Such a wonderful combo of flavors. I cannot get enough chickpeas these days!

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  14. I also love chickpeas and not only in humus;)Will try this looks delicioes .Cheers

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  15. I've been needing an excuse to buy fennel. Your photos are gorgeous as always!!!

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  16. De belles alliances et des photos toujours au top :-)

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  17. the spicy sauce looks wonderful, jamie alwasy has such great energy!

    wonderful recipe

    sweetlife

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  18. What depth of flavors! I would love to taste this salad ~ will you open a restaurant? everything you make is A+
    I was so surprised to see fish sauce in your tomato sauce. Intriguing and alluring!

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  19. Jamie Does hasn't arrived in my neck of the woods as yet but it definitely sounds like food TV I want to get back to.

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  20. TASTEOFBEIRUT: Thanks, dear! I never thought of opening a resturant... Unfortunately, my budget would not permit it.
    Fish sauce (not the Asian one though) is also used in Italian food. The Romans already cooked with it. I always flavor my tomato sauces with it. It is magical. I cannot live without fish sauce! :-D

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  21. Hi Rosa, The salad is looking so healthy and inviting. Loved the new combo of ingredients and the recipe is so nicely made and presented. Saving this recipe of urs and wud love to give ur version a try on the coming weekend. Have a great day….Sonia !!!

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  22. This is for sure my type of food! Looks delectable!

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  23. nice flavor !

    New to your space and happy to follow u

    Do visit me as time permits..
    http://comeletseat.blogspot.com

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  24. Ah chickpeas. I miss them. Never had them for a while cos my body won't digest them well!

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  25. Ta salade fais très envie... je note la recette pour un de mes prochains pique-niques... Bises et bon weekend!

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  26. Amazing colours, very deft use of spices, flavours all bringing together a very appealing salad. I liked best - use of spicy tomato sauce, shavings of Parmesan,mmmm.
    Rosa, a doubt - what is fennel? In India, fennel is greenish to brown seeds of a fragrant plant. The seeds resemble cumin seeds in shape. Is this fennel the same?Thanks.
    Rajani.

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  27. You always take the most beautiful pictures! Those tomatoes are gorgeous! Have a wonderful weekend Rosa!

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  28. Rosa,

    I am competely hooked on this. I want some immediately. The flavors are melding in my mind and I know that you have given me some great things to think about today while I work through my day.
    Thanks, Simon

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  29. The ras el hanout is the star of the dish and keep on giving your boyfriend legumes...he'll take to them!

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  30. Stunning post! Merci pour le goût et l'évasion :-) Bon week end!

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  31. Delish salad and loved reading about the spices in Ras El Hanout. Your posts are always so informative.

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  32. Love chickpeas. A wonderful combo of flavours.

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  33. I always learn so much when I read your blog and love how you play with the fusion of flavors and food cultures

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  34. Look delicious Rosa and what lovely pictures you make! gloria

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  35. j'aime bcp ces petites salades originales Bravo Rosa !pierre

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  36. Excellent blend of ingredients, and beautiful presentation!

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  37. Such a talent! Love this two delicious world come and blend in together.

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  38. Beautiful photos, my dear. That salad looks like exactly what I wish I were having for lunch right now :).

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  39. So perfect, so delicious and so welcoming.
    This sort of food makes me smile.
    Have a great weekend ♥

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  40. Saffron together with fish sauce? Whoa, I've got to try that combo.

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  41. une salade originale plein de saveurs j'adore
    bonne soirée

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  42. I really have to visit both countries. I would indulge in so many tasty dishes. This looks tempting. Great pictures!

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  43. ooh yes the ingredients for the spicy tomato sauce sound like they will dazzle the tastebuds! I love the description of the magical spices and will now always think of you as professor foodfreak! :)

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  44. i love the jamie oliver shows. i got really in touch with the one in italy...venice i think it was? I have yet to cook anything with fennel. I need to get on that.
    Happy Mothers Day!

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  45. The picture is mindblowingly beautiful, and the recipe very appetizing. Thanks for sharing!

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  46. Beautifully executed Rosa..the combination sounds heavenly.

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  47. I love the mix of warm flavor that you use for this salad.
    It must be so tasty !
    And as usual : amazing photos.
    Bises

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  48. I like Jaime Oliver as I think he connects well with cooks like us :) And 'lazy spice', I wouldn't mind using that! Beautiful photos are always :)

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  49. Lo ve it! We have quite the same version of this salad on our blog, it's soooo delicious! Giorgia & Cyril

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  50. Rosa, what a wonderful and intriguing combination! I loved seeing fish sauce in the spicy sauce. Photos are stunning. Cheers! Nina

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  51. Das Rezept für die spicy Tomato sauce liest sich interessant ! Liebe Grüsse.

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  52. You're right Rosa . . . this is a wonderful marriage of cuisines! Love the spicy tomato sauce recipe too! Your photos of tomatoes are simply incredible!

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  53. That is indeed a new combination for me, love the idea - so flavorful!
    US Masala

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  54. A terrific flavor profile here! The spicy tomato sauce sounds excellent!

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  55. Rosa you are right I am all under the charm of that intoxicating and addictive flavor and taste of this chickpea salad, spicy tomato sauce is just awesome!

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  56. Ca serait parfait pour un pique-nique. D'ailleurs, il est l'heure et elle me fait tres envie cette jolie world salade.
    Bonne semaine Rosa.

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  57. I love food that is fused by different cultures, this salad looks so divine, I'm quite in love with fennel as well!

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  58. The only time I like to see Italy meet Mexico is a soccer match, but I should definitely try to remember "Ras El Hanout" ! Thanks Rosa.

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  59. Mmmhh!!! J'adore les salades de pois chiches, et celle-là a l'air si parfumée, que j'aimerais la voir téléportée, là, tout de suite ;)

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  60. As an Italian I find Jamie's recipes always convincing. And I find Moroccan food absolutely delicious. I'm sure your medley works great.

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  61. What a beautiful marriage of flavors in this salad...it looks incredible, Rosa!

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  62. I always get inspired when I watch Jamie cook. These flavors sound fantastic together! Love all the big flavors in the tomato sauce.

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  63. Beauty and nutrition seem to go hand in hand in your kitchen!
    Btw, you're very lucky to have access to such perfectly red tomatoes.

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  64. Refreshing and delicious looking salad...great recipe!

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  65. Original la sauce poisson dans la sauce épicée à la tomate.

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  66. Très très sympa tout ça !! Ça me plait ! Bonne soirée !

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  67. Perfect summer salad, Rosa. I really love those Moroccan flavors.
    Your tomatoes are gorgeous!!
    Jamie always inspires me too. I like the way he throws out ideas and you can adjust and substitute as you want.

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  68. I love chickpeas. I usually eat them straight out of the pot! I've always wondered, though, why are chickpeas also called garbanzo beans? That always used to confuse me when I was a kid!

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  69. This salad sounds like a refreshing appetizer or even a yummy snack! I could eat this anytime of the day :) Ras El Hanout reminds me of the Indian Tandoori Masala or the simpler garam masala. Amazing to see similarities in food between 2 distant places :)

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  70. une salade qui fait voyager :-) bises

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  71. Une salade extra comme j'aime ::

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  72. my perfect dish! love it ! you are such a charmer! :)

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  73. Ohoh, I love the name of your salad in French and I can imagine very well the delicious combination of flavours... Yumissima!

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  74. This dish looks like it's right up my alley- ingredients that I love with great flavor combined! I'll have to try this one.

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  75. I already like the idea of chickpea and fennel and the combination with the spicy tomato sauce makes it even yummier...lovely presentation and photography as usual :-) Have a wonderful week Rosa!

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  76. J'adore les rencontres culinaires. Tes tomates sont à tomber, un jour j'en aurais d'aussi belles.

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  77. You had me at sunny Mediterranean cuisines. Sounds fabulous.

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  78. Great description and combination of ingredients for a salad! It definitely tastes great as well! :D

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  79. I love chickpeas and fennel, this looks amazing!

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  80. This sounds so lovely, Rosa! Wonderful combination of flavors- you have my mouthwatering! :)

    xx,
    Tammy

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  81. C'est une invitation au voyage cette salade Rosa.

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  82. coucou Rosa !! :) merci pour cette delicieuse recetteque j'ai faite le mm soir de notre retour d'Irlande.... un delice, aucun reste ?!!
    a tout bientot et btw, tes photos sont tjrs aussi magnifiques :)
    bises,
    corinne

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  83. As always, really beautiful photos and a knockout recipe with intriguing flavors.

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  84. Elle est très belle et appétissante cette salade colorée!

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  85. Jamie Oliver can do no wrong. His recipes are delicious and his work to combat childhood obesity truly admirable.

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  86. ras el hanout contains some of my absolute favorite spices and flavors--it's a blend that i always keep on hand. great use for it, rosa!

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  87. We tried to find ras el hanout here and had a near impossible time. Finally, we found it at a more expensive mainstream store. None of the Middle Eastern stores sold it. How ironic. Great salad.

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  88. I love this combination of flavors! Definitely the time of year for the flavors of the Mediterranean! I love ras el hanout - and have some in my spice cupboard, but need some more dishes to use it in!

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  89. le fenouil j'adore alors c pour moi !!pierre

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  90. Rosa, this looks delicious! I never flipped over fennel, but the more I try it, the more I welcome it :) That said, your photos ust get more and more stunning with each visit :)

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  91. What a delicious and refreshing salad!

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  92. Wow, this does sound incredible, and I have both ingredients on hand but was not planning on pairing them, but I am hastily reconsidering my meal thanks to you.

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  93. I have been trying out some moroccan dishes lately, gotta try out yours.

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  94. I've never thought to put these two together but I can see they'd work brilliantly. Thanks for the inspiration!

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