Morshan (Tunisian Chickpeas and Swiss Chard)

Seeing a recent post about Ottolenghi’s chickpeas and spinach made me think about Paula Wolfert’s recipe for Morshan (Chickpeas and Swiss Chard in the style Tunisian Sahel) (pp. 127-28 of Mediterranean Cooking). The irony was this: I had the baby spinach to make the Ottolenghi recipe, but I had just cooked the Swiss chard that I bought a day or so ago. But now I wanted to make the Morshan. So, I used the baby spinach instead of the Swiss chard.

And it was delicious.I made a couple of changes to the recipe. I added the cumin seeds and ground cumin from the Ottolenghi recipe, and I used 2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste instead of 2 teaspoons (okay, that was actually a fortuitous mistake because I misread the recipe).

Morshan, My Way

12 ounces Swiss chard,  stemmed, torn in large pieces, steamed for 5 minutes, drained, squeezed dry, and coarsely shredded (or a bag of baby spinach if you want to totally not follow the original recipe)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. ground coriander (plus 1 tsp. cumin seeds and 1 tsp. ground cumin, if you want to not follow the original recipe)
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 onion, minced (more than the original recipe)
2 Tbl. tomato paste (MUCH more than the original recipe)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (original recipe calls for 1 cup freshly cooked chickpeas)
3/4 cup water (original recipe calls for 3/4 cup of the chickpea cooking liquid)
lemon, cut in wedges, optional

The original recipe calls for mashing the garlic, salt, coriander, pepper, and coriander in a mortar until a paste forms. I just mashed the garlic with the salt and spices until I had a rough paste.

Heat the oil in a skillet or saucepan and saute the onion until lightly golden. Add the garlic paste and tomato paste and stir around.  Add the chickpeas, the liquid, and greens. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes.

Can be served warm, room temperature, or cold, with lemon wedges.

Wolfert recommends serving the dish with cheese (such as feta), pickles, bread, and salad for a whole meal.

Clifford Wright has a version of this recipe (Murshan) in his book, Mediterranean Vegetables.

(In case you were wondering, Sahel is a part of Tunisia.)


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4 Responses to “Morshan (Tunisian Chickpeas and Swiss Chard)”

  1. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) Says:

    I LOVE chickpeas, I LOVE swiss chard (and spinach) and I LOVE cumin. This recipe sounds right up my alley. Maybe we’ll try it for tomorrow’s dinner.
    Do you think it would be ok without the tomato paste? I’m not a big fan of tomatoes in stews and cooked foods.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Hmmm . . . Actually, there is so much flavor from the garlic, onion, and spices, that it probably would work without the tomato paste. The original recipe only had a little tomato paste anyway. Maybe it will need the lemon juice, though. Try it and let me know . . .

  2. Paula Wolfert’s Pan Roasted Cauliflower | Pragmatic Attic Says:

    […] Bonus: Here is my version of Wolfert’s recipe for Morshan, chickpeas and greens. […]

  3. Swiss Chard, Chickpea and Tamarind Stew | Pragmatic Attic Says:

    […] Plenty, is very much like the Tunisian ragout of Swiss chard and chickpeas called Morshan. The Swiss chard gets meltingly soft and gets infused, along with the chickpeas, with tangy, hearty […]

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