Monday, February 01, 2010

The Moro victory lap

The picture is as bad as the dinner was delicious.

I'll start with the pastry triangle at top. Moro calls these fatayer, and they are like Syrian calzones. You make a simple yeast dough and let it sit while you roast and puree some squash. Then you roll the dough into four circles, and fill each one with squash, feta cheese, lots of chopped fresh oregano, and toasted pinenuts. 
Pinch into a rough triangle and bake.  As Isabel pointed out, these are like a bready version of the pumpkin ravioli you get at Italian restaurants, but in ravioli the counterpoint to the squash is grated Parmesan, which sometimes lacks the power to overcome its cloying sweetness. Here, the counterpoint is feta, and nothing can shout down feta, not even squash. They're evenly matched and the oregano, in the role usually played by sage, adds complexity. Everyone loved fatayer.
Some of us loved the chickpeas and spinach even more. It's not like other chickpea dishes, so don't stop reading!
You cook your chickpeas, cook your spinach. Set both aside. Heat some oil in a skillet and add cubed bread and fry until golden, then add garlic, cumin, fresh oregano, and red pepper flakes and saute a little more. At this point you put the beautiful fried bread into a mortar (or food processor) and mash (or puree) with vinegar. 
I had assumed the bread cubes would be a garnish, and thought the mashing step was a mistake when I first read the recipe. I reread the sentence. Did as told and ended up with a crumbly, dark paste that I toss this with the chickpeas and spinach. It was brilliant. The bread crumbs hold the intense flavors of the spices and garlic and cling to the chickpeas better than any liquid sauce.  A great, great dish.

On the other hand, the  beetroot soup with cumin
is not a great, great dish. I like the British terms "aubergine" and "courgette" but prefer the American  word "beet." I made a pot of this vegetarian Moro soup for my lunches because no one else in my family likes beets. I'm glad I didn't try to convert them with this soup, because while it was cooked for a long time, it tasted curiously raw. It was much better the second day, as soup often is, and I will keep eating it for the vitamin C and betacyanin, but would rather eat leftover chickpeas.

By the way, that's the Jim Lahey whole wheat bread on the plate. His cookbook, My Bread, is fascinating and contains recipes for 

-banana leaf rolls (long-rise, no-knead bread that incorporates fresh bananas and dates and is baked in banana leaves)
-bread made from seawater
-peanut butter-and-jelly bread
-celery root pizza
-a pancetta, mango and basil sandwich.


  1. I have to check out the spinach garbanzo dish from Moro. I am partial to the recipe in The New Spanish Table, but I am intrigued by the use of bread here.


  2. that fatayer looks and sounds so good....

  3. How do I get the fatayer recipe. i want to make it this weekend.

  4. that spinach and garbanzo bean recipe sounds so great, that use of breadcrumbs reminds me of a pasta dish i've made with mushrooms that calls for a similar breadcrumb paste, it makes it meaty somehow. i think i will have to buy this moro book, on the strength of the bread recipe and now this.

  5. most of those lahey recipes sound gimmicky to me- peanut butter and jelly bread?

  6. I don't think the picture looks that bad, and the chickpeas both look and sound delicious! I am curious as to which "some" of you liked it? I recently made a white beans and greans dish that was excellent, but your chickpeas and spinach looks like an upgrade. I will try it.

  7. I think we can't ignore the way like you redact this amazing blog, specially the principal paragraph, because you explain the calzones issue, as you probably know, ravioli are made in worldwide industrial lines supplied by Italian companies such as Arienti & Cattaneo. 23jj

  8. I really like this site, it's so important to know more about this topic, keep it up and of course every time I have time I'll love to check out again

  9. 0This is simply delicious I wanted to get a different recipe something to enjoy with my family at afternoon with a coup of coffee.