Friday, March 7, 2008
AN EASY, SPICY MIDDLE EASTERN PASTA AND CHICKPEA CASSEROLE
This post is going to be short and sweet. I'm under a deadline and, most of the time, when I'm cooking these days, it's for the Field Roast book I'm finishing, and I can't post those recipes!
The other night I had some chickpeas to use up and I decided to try this dish from one of my favorite authors, Habeeb Salloum, a wonderful Canadian writer/cook of Syrian descent. This recipe is from his very readable book "Arab Cooking on a Saskatchewan Homestead: Recipes and Recollections". It was the Silver Winner of the 2006 Canadian Culinary Awards, Canadian Food Culture Category.
Here's a review from Brian Fawcett at the Books in Canada website:
"Possibly the most uniquely Canadian book I've seen in several years is Habeeb Salloum's Arab Cooking on a Saskatchewan Homestead: Recipes and Recollections from the Canadian Plains Research Centre at the University of Regina. Salloum's parents emigrated to Canada from Syria in the early 1920s, and settled in Saskatchewan. He grew up as a prairie farm kid, joined the RCAF for World War II, then worked for the federal government for thirty-six years before retiring to a third career as a freelance historian, writer, and, on the evidence presented in the book, a food lover.
As cookbooks go, this is the real deal for people who like Middle Eastern cuisine, but it is a lot more than merely a cookbook. It is also a fine piece of cultural history written by a man about equally rooted in Arab and Canadian culture, in agricultural and nutritional science, and, most firmly, in Saskatchewan's history of rural immigration. It is therefore a useful book on several grounds."
There's another great description and review here.
Here's a passage from that review: "'With their food, Syrian immigrants were 100 years ahead of their time,' he says. He sent in the unsolicited cookbook manuscript to the University of Regina's Canadian Plains Research Center and crossed his fingers. 'If it had been a straight-up cookbook we wouldn't have published it. It's the recollection part that interested us," says publication coordinator Brian Mlazgar. 'I've been publishing books in Saskatchewan for 30 years and I had no idea there were Syrian-Lebanese people here that early.'"
I love checking out the recipes for lentils, chickpeas, bulgur and other simple foods that were staples for this family during the Great Depression, cooked with Middle Eastern panache of his mother.
This recipe is a keeper! It's simple but very yummy, and naturally vegan.
HABEEB SALLOUMS'S CHICKPEAS WITH MACARONI
Like many Middle Eastern pasta dishes, this recipe utilizes an unusual cooking method-- you just chuck the raw pasta into the dish with some extra liquid. It really works! From "Arab Cooking on a Saskatchewan Homestead: Recipes and Recollections" by Habeeb Salloum.
2 Tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I had only dried, so I used 1 Tbs.)
1 small hot pepper, minced (I had only dried so I used 1 small one, crushed)
2 cups tomatoes, chopped (he specified stewed, but I used canned, diced, with juice)
2 cups well-cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 cups raw macaroni (I used small shell pasta-- and wholewheat is fine)
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (black, freshly-ground)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onions and garlic in it over medium heat until they begin to brown. Stir in the cilantro and hot pepper and saute a few minutes more.
Mix in the remaining ingredients, mix well, and scoop into a 2 qt. oiled casserole dish. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
Nutrition (per serving): 267.7 calories; 21% calories from fat; 6.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 512.7mg sodium; 539.5mg potassium; 45.8g carbohydrates; 8.4g fiber; 8.0g sugar; 37.4g net carbs; 10.1g protein; 5.1 points.