A Tribute to Heidi Swanson’s Cookbook, Near & Far

Showcasing my third bowl meal for the week, I am posting a recipe from my latest Cookbook Club book, Near & Far. It has an exquisite cover that is embossed with design and is filled with unique natural food recipes inspired from Heidi’s travels around the world and beautifully artful photos. As you can see by my slew of fuscia post-it markings, I really worked my way through this book! I found there to be some repetition with seasoning and ingredients, but the combinations were quite unique and almost everything turned out amazing!

Harira, a traditional Moroccan soup eaten to break the fast each day during the month of Ramadan, is what I made here. It was thick, more like a stew and full of interesting textures burrowed amidst a splash of flavor. Ginger, saffron, cinnamon, sweet paprika and cumin combine to create a medley of warmth in your mouth. With lentils and chickpeas as the base of the dish and a little threads of angel hair woven in and around the dish, it was quite hearty without the addition of meat.

The most splendid part of the dish was the garnish. Leaves of celery and cilantro brought a fresh light finish in contrast to the sweet explosion of chopped dates. A drizzle of high quality olive oil put the finishing touch. The result; an amazing dish – simple, yet exquisite!

To note, some of my other favorites of Heidi’s recipes were her Tartine au Fleur de Courge, her version of avocado toast with a twist making it quite different containing a hint of garlic, toasted macadamia nuts and orange zest. I loved her Cauliflower Pasta mixture of pan sautéed cauliflower mixed with green olives and creme fraiche topped with za’atar, but felt it got lost in the pasta. Would have been a winner as a side dish alongside a nicely roasted chicken. Her Frittata made with thinly sliced potatoes, turmeric and saffron was a delight!

Harira

Serves 8

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced, leaves reserved
  • 6 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • Pinch of saffron (about 30 threads)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 6 cups water
  • 4-5 tablespoons flour
  • Scant 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 can whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram or oregano, chopped
  • 3 oz angel hair pasta, broken into 1″ pieces
  • Chopped fresh Medjool dates, to serve
Instructions
  1. Chop the cilantro stems finely and set aside in a pile. Chop the leaves and reserve separately. Heat 1/3 cup of the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, garlic, ginger, and cilantro stems, stir to coat, and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Grind the saffron with the salt into a powder with a mortar and pestle and add to the pot along with the cinnamon, sweet paprika, aleppo pepper and cumin. Stir well, then add the chickpeas and lentils. Add 4 cups of water, stirring to combine and bring to a simmer.
  2. In a separate large bowl, gradually whisk the remaining 2 cups of water into the flour, being careful to avoid lumps. Add the lemon juice, tomatoes with their juice and most of the remaining cilantro. Stir well breaking up the tomatoes a bit. Add this mixture to the soup and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked through. About 5 minutes before it is done, stir in the marjoram and pasta. Once the pasta is cooked, adjust the seasoning and serve topped with the remaining cilantro leaves, celery leaves, chopped dates and a drizzle of olive oil.

(click here) for printable recipe

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