Friday, 24 September 2010

Spiced broad beans with yoghurt and bruschetta

My mind has been wandering to all things Moroccan in anticipation of a trip to Marrakesh next month. I love that middle eastern/ mediterranean spicing vibe so I'm looking forward to being surprised by some new flavours while I'm there.

Although I try not to be swayed by those intoxicating images of exoticism that belie Morocco's place in the modern world, I'm told that stories of the dreamlike mountains of heady spices, dried fruits and olives in the markets of Marrakesh are true.  I can't wait to ignore my tourist maps and get lost in the winding alleyways of the souk...

The spice in this dish, ras el hanout, is a complex blend which contains a bewildering array of individual spices including cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, black pepper, nutmeg and cardamom. It's a rather nifty shortcut if you want to add an aromatic lift to a dish and also works well in marinades (say, grilled halloumi or mackerel) or scattered over potato wedges before baking.

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 for lunch

450g fresh or frozen broad beans
150g greek yoghurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a small bunch of mint, finely chopped
1½ tsp ras el hanout
1 tsp ground cumin
the grated rind of a lemon
2 dried chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
6 tbsp panko breadcrumbs (or grated from a stale loaf)
8 x 1cm slices of ciabatta, brushed with olive oil

1) Boil the beans for 3 minutes if fresh or 5 if frozen, and shell into a bowl. Dress with the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the mint and season with a little salt.

2) Put the remaining oil into a pan and fry the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and spices for a couple of minutes over a low heat until crisp and fragrant. Toast the ciabatta for a couple of minutes on either side in a griddle pan.

3) Swirl the yoghurt in a thick layer over a small plate, then spoon over the broad beans and top with the crispy breadcrumbs. To serve, heap generous amounts onto the bruschetta, and enjoy with a glass of fresh mint tea.

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