Newspaper Food: Maghreb Bean Stew

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So this week I decided to banish Pinterest (if only for a moment) and refer to the high quality recipes I get to read on Wednesdays when the Washington Post Food Section comes out and I pick it up at the residence hall where I have my Food, Media and Culture Class. Perfect, right?

Anyway, I found this recipe for vegetarian harira, which I looked up, and it’s a kind of stew usually eaten as an appetizer in the Maghreb region of Africa. I also looked that up, and it’s Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Mauritania. So I looked that up, just kidding. I stopped.

I’m always looking for vegetarian recipes that can last more than one meal (Grilled cheese and omelets do get old). It can be served on pasta or couscous or rice, but I ate mine plain, on pasta, and once with a side of garlic bread. yum.

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Maghreb Bean Stew (adapted from “Vegetarian Harira” The Washington Post)

Makes 4-6 Servings

Oil, for the pan, use your judgement
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato or several small tomatoes (I used 3), diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup dried lentils, whatever color your grocery store sells is fine, rinsed
2 15 oz. cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4-5 cups water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste (around 1/2 teaspoon)
pepper to taste

Sometime after you start and before you finish chopping the garlic and onions, heat the oil in the pan. I learned to cut onions first in half from top to bottom, then towards the bottom in lines (the bottom is the grosser side with the little hairs usually), and then horizontal. I hope that made sense. If it didn’t, just chop them. Add the garlic and onions to a medium-sized pot, and cook on medium heat until the onions turn translucent. Add the chopped tomato.

It might be helpful to chop and prep everything beforehand, because now you add the tomato sauce, chickpeas, lentils, parsley, cilantro. Yep, it’s a lot. So I forgot the parsley and cilantro, naturally, so now was when I rushed to chop it, and of course, lacerated my thumb in the process.

That’s tomato sauce that conveniently happened post-laceration, I promise

So don’t do that. It’s really hard to compress, elevate, and rest while you pour in the water and spices, but that’s what you should do next, instead of calling your mom to see if you should be going to the ER and using Siri to text your dear-friend-who-thank-god-lives-in-the-same-building that if you die, you’re in the apartment. Now is not the time for drama.

Stir it a bit, and let it come to a boil, then turn the heat way down, put the lid on, and cook for 45 minutes. During that time you could do the dishes or talk to the on-call doctor about tetanus shots. Whichever.

When you taste it, the lentils should be soft (the Post said silky, that seems a little flowery language). Like I said, you can serve it with on a grain-type thing, though I enjoyed it for several meals by itself.

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This recipe has basic stuff you might already have in your pantry, even a student pantry, but buying parsley and cilantro and lentils aren’t exactly going to break the bank– and they’ll force you like they’re going to force me, to use those darned lentils.

It’s a hearty meal that doesn’t cost too much as long as you don’t lose a lot of blood in the process.


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