Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blah, blah...lablabi.


The last thing you'd think to make on a hot summer's day is a spicy stew.  Well, apparently, every culture in the world eats something SPICY to cool themselves off - it forces them to sweat.  Ergo, hot sauce, et al.  Maybe not stews.  But what's stopping me? I stopped off at the market to find some beautiful fresh chickpeas, and I couldn't resist picking them up.  I'm pretty sure that if it weren't for Lani's Farm, I would never even know how chickpeas grew (that's sad).  Needless to say, they look like mini edamame.  They are peas, so I should've figured as much! 

I contemplated what to do...maybe a deconstructed hummus? That may still be an option.  Bon Appetit jumped on the bandwagon and made griddled fresh chickpeas (jerks). But I couldn't help myself but to make a traditional Tunisian stew out of them.  You know what they say about fresh ingredients!?  Yeah, you know what they say. So I figured I may as well make something fresh out the box as opposed to "fresh out the can" or dried.  And that I did!

Lablabi.  Say that three times fast! It's fun, I promise. Basically, lablabi is a Lebanese dish of stewed chickpeas in a very light, delicate sauce. The condiments are where it's at.  The great thing about this dish is that it really allows the chickpeas to shine through, as opposed to just being a sidebar to whatever dish they're placed into.  Delicious-ness!



Lablabi
8 ounces (1½ cups) dried chickpeas, sorted and soaked at least 4 hours (or 2 15½-ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained...or similar amount FRESH!!!)
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
4 t cumin seeds, toasted and freshly ground
1 T Tunisian harissa, plus more for serving
½ preserved lemon

3 T olive oil, plus more for garnish
 Juice of 1 lemon
4 T parsley, chopped
2 sun-dried tomatoes packed in extra-virgin olive oil, thinly sliced
2 T capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
Poached eggs - 1 per serving, if you want! (Do it)

If you're using dried garbanzos: 


Drain the chickpeas and add them to 2 quarts water in a large sauce pan. Add 3 garlic cloves and the bay leaf, bringing 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're using canned or fresh chickpeas (shell them!) proceed from here!

Mince the remaining garlic clove, add it to the chickpeas, and simmer for 25 minutes.  If using fresh or canned chickpeas, add 5 cups water (not in addition to 2 quarts!) plus the garlic cloves. Cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes.


While simmering, prepare the garnishes! Take the pulp out of the preserved lemons and cut into thin strips - do the same with the sundried tomatoes. 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. I like to use the standard Julia Child method - boil for 5 minutes, 45 seconds, place in cold water then peel. PERFECTION.

Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and the juice of half a lemon to the soup, simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper - not too much though because the garnishes are salty as well!



 To serve, divide the chickpeas and broth among four bowls.  I think it's best to leave the garnishes out and allow everyone to place whatever they want in their bowls.  But seriously...urge them to put EVERYTHING in their bowls. Including the poached egg.  Lord have mercy! The flavors are just epic.  The plain old chickpea and harissa broth is taken three levels up by the garnishes. And the egg yolk (if used) transforms the sauce into a thick and creamy spicy concoction.  Absolutely stunning.


This is definitely one of those dishes that you can actually taste transforming as different flavors hit your tongue.  Don't skimp on ANY of the garnishes!


Seriously, I don't know how to make chickpeas look super appetizing, but just looking at this makes me hungry. So, so good. And so, so healthy.  Don't be scurred - get your chickpea on!



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