vegetable batbout (Moroccan stuffed flatbread with peppers, tomatoes and vermicelli)
recipe under the cut!
for the bread:
4 cups (540g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
about 1 ½ cups water
for the filling:
2 green peppers, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp ginger
¼ cup green olives, chopped (optional)
6-8 capers, minced (optional)
for the bread:
1. mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. make a well in the flour and add in just enough water to make a smooth, non-sticky dough. you may need more than 1 ½ cup.
2. knead the dough for about 15 minutes on a clean surface until it is very smooth and elastic.
3. cover a surface with flour or semolina flour and roll out to about ¼ inch in thickness, then cut out circles of the desired size with a cookie cutter or a glass, rolling the dough out again as necessary.
4. cover with a lightly floured towel and allow to rise for 1-2 hours, until the discs of dough puff up.
5. cook dough in a dry pan over medium heat until golden brown on both sides. set aside.
for the filling:
1. heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until sizzling. add onion, garlic, and spices and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion starts to turn translucent.
2. add diced green peppers and cover. cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until softened.
3. peel tomatoes by placing in a covered bowl with boiling water for a few minutes. drain and rinse with cool water and remove the skins with your hands. dice.
4 add tomatoes and cook, uncovered, until the water reduces. remove from heat.
5. soak vermicelli in just-boiled water in a covered bowl for 1-2 minutes until cooked through. add to mixture.
6. add olives and capers, if desired.
1. cut bread circles open with a sharp knife and stuff with filling.
batbout are served warm as an appetiser for a main dish.
1. prepare the butternut squash by peeling it (microwaving it for about 30 seconds will make this easier), halving it lengthwise, scraping out the seeds and pulp, and cutting it into cubes of about 1″ in width.
2. peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into cubes of about the same size.
3. arrange onions and garlic in the bottom of a large clay cooking tajine (you can also use a Dutch oven, a slow cooker, or a thick pot with a diffuser). add the pinch of saffron, then arrange squash and potatoes in an even layer over the onions.
4. sprinkle the spices over the vegetables (you can play around with these but this is what I used), add the cinnamon sticks, and drizzle the olive oil over top.
5. cover the tajine and cook on low with a diffuser for about 30 minutes, until the squash and sweet potatoes begin to soften.
6. if using unblanched almonds, blanch them while the tajine cooks by placing them into boiling water for about a minute, draining and rinsing with cool water, then pinching the skin off each one.
7. after 30 minutes, add the golden raisins and blanched almonds and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until butternut squash and sweet potato are soft and cooked through.
1. mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. add just enough water to create a smooth, non-sticky dough–you may need less than 1 ½ cup.
2. knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, until it is very smooth and elastic.
3. oil a baking sheet or another clean work surface. oil your hands and divide the dough into balls of about 1.5 – 2″ in diameter (or more, if you want to make larger msmen)
by pinching it between your forefinger and your thumb. add more oil to your hands as necessary. place the dough balls onto the oiled surface, cover, and allow to rest for about 20 minutes.
4. start with the first ball that you formed and work your way towards the last. with oiled hands, stretch each ball of dough out into a circle that is as thin as possible without tearing–the oil should help to make the dough more supple. the dough should be partially transparent.
5. dot the circle of dough with butter and sprinkle it with a bit of semolina flour.
6. fold one edge of the dough into the center of the circle, sprinkle with semolina, and then fold the other edge into the center. you should end up with the circle folded in thirds, like an envelope.
7. sprinkle the dough with semolina again. fold the top of the strip of dough down into the center, sprinkle again with semolina, and then fold the bottom of the strip up to form a sqare. place the square back on your oiled surface and repeat for each ball of dough.
8. again, start with the first square you formed and work your way to the last. on an oiled surface, flatten each square with your fingers until about doubles in size, trying to keep the folds still aligned with the edges of the square.
9. fry each square in a lightly oiled pan over medium heat for about two minutes on each side until golden brown. pressing down on each square for a few seconds with your hands or the flat end of a spatula will help them to cook evenly. you may find it expedient to fry the squares you’ve already formed while you’re flattening more.
10. place each finished square on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. add a bit more oil to the pan as necessary–I found it helpful to do this when 1/3 of the squares were fried, and again at 2/3 of the way through. serve hot.
msmen are typically eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack, spread with honey, jam, cheese, Nutella, you name it!
2. add melted butter and mix with your hands until the grains of semolina are well-moistened.
3. add in ½ cup of milk and mix with your hands again. add additional milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until dough is wet and easily forms a ball.
4. let rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the semolina to absorb the liquid.
5. cover a surface with more semolina. flatten the dough onto the surface using your hands to a thickness of about ½ inch, then cut out harcha with a cookie cutter or a large glass– or form small balls of dough and flatten them out to a thickness of about ½ inch.
6. heat a pan for a few minutes over medium-low heat. cook harcha for about 10 minutes on each side, until firm and golden brown.
harcha are commonly served for breakfast or snacks, cut open and filled with jam, honey, cheese, or olive oil.
vegetable pastilla (Moroccan sweet and savoury pie with squash, chickpeas, and almonds)
recipe under the cut!
I’ve substituted the typical pigeon or chicken with zucchini, yellow squash, and chickpeas in this vegan recipe. for the shell you’ll need to make warqa dough (which isn’t really commercially available outside of Morocco), or you can substitute store-bought phyllo dough, which isn’t quite as thin and crispy but will do the trick.
for the warqa dough:
1 ¾ cup high-gluten bread flour
¼ cup semolina flour / durum flour (or substitute all-purpose flour)
½ cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight, or 1 can chickpeas
3 vegan eggs from Follow Your Heart (optional)
1 small bouquet of parsley, diced
1 small bouquet of cilantro, diced
1 ½ cup almonds
1 tbsp cinnamon
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp orange blossom water
to form the pastilla:
¼ cup vegan margarine, melted
additional almonds (optional)
about 2 tbsp powdered sugar
about 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
for the warqa:
1. add flours and salt to a food processor and pulse a few times to sift.
2. add the wet ingredients and process on low for 1-2 minutes, until you get a smooth batter.
3. refrigerate the batter for at least two hours, or overnight.
4. bring a few inches of water to a fast boil in a large pot, and place a large, nonstick pan over the pot, tying it with kitchen string if necessary–this will help to evenly distribute heat and prevent the warqa from drying out. allow the pan to heat for a few minutes.
5. using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of batter onto the pan in large, circular strokes, filling the entire pan. carefully apply a second layer to any bare spots (but don’t worry about small holes or feathery edges).
6. cook until the warqa becomes opaque and the edges start to curl, about 2 minutes. loosen the edges of the dough with a spatula and peel the dough off of the pan using your hands.
7. flip the dough over onto a plate covered with a paper towel, and lay another paper towel on top of it. repeat, stacking the sheets of dough on top of each other, until you’ve used all of the batter.
for the savoury filling:
1. toast cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and saffron threads in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. (if using ground spices, just toast the saffron threads.)
2. grind spices in a spice mill (I use a coffee grinder). if you’re using ground spices, you can just crush the toasted saffron threads with your fingers or in a mortal and pestle.
3. mix ground spices, ras el hanout, and 2 tsp salt with 3 tbsp olive oil–if you’re using ground ginger, add it now. chop the zucchini and yellow squash into small cubes and coat them with the spiced oil.
4. spread the squash evenly in a single layer over a baking sheet and roast at 450F for 20 minutes.
5. heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan on medium heat for a few minutes until sizzling. add diced onion and garlic and grated ginger and cook for a few minutes until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
6. (optional): whisk ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp Follow Your Heart vegan egg mix with 1 ½ cups of cold water until smooth.
7. add egg mixture, roasted squash, chickpeas, parsley, and cilantro to the pan with the onion and garlic. heat, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are fully cooked and appear scrambled (or until the filling is warmed through, if you’re omitting the eggs).
for the almond filling:
1. blanch the almonds by boiling them in water for about a minute, emptying them into a colander and rinsing with cool water, and gently pinching the skins to remove them.
2. heat about 2 tsp of vegetable oil on medium in a large pan and fry the almonds for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until golden brown. set aside some almonds for a topping, if desired.
3. pulse almonds, sugar, cinnamon, and orange blossom water a few times in a food processor until you get coarse crumbs.
forming the pastilla:
1. place one sheet of warqa in the bottom of a pie pan and brush with melted margarine. place 4-5 more sheets around the pan so that they cover all of the sides and hang over the edge, brushing each one with more melted margarine. add 2 more sheets of warqa in the middle, brushing each with margarine.
2. place the savoury filling in the pie, making sure that it’s even and spread all the way to the edges.
3. (optional): add another sheet or two of warqa on top of the savoury filling and brush with margarine.
4. spread the almond filling over the warqa, making sure that it’s even and spread all the way to the edges.
5. add another 2-3 sheets of warqa, brushing each with margarine, and fold the excess inwards.
6. fold the excess warqa around the sides of the pan inwards, brushing each sheet with more melted margarine.
7. cover the pastilla with 1-2 more sheets of warqa, tucking the excess into the sides of the pie pan. brush the entire thing with more margarine to seal.
8. bake on the center rack of an oven at 400F for about 40 minutes, until warqa is golden brown and crisp. allow to cool slightly before removing from pan.
1. sift powdered sugar evenly onto the surface of the pastilla.
2. add ground cinnamon, spread evenly or in a pattern as desired (I formed diamonds by criss-crossing lines of cinnamon carefully with a small spoon).
3. add the almonds you kept back from the almond filling as desired. you can also use sliced or slivered almonds. try doing an image search for “Moroccan pastilla” or “pastilla marocaine” for decoration ideas.
cut carefully and serve! pastilla is often eaten with harissa, a North African hot sauce made with red peppers.
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, or 1 can of chickpeas
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup vermicelli
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cilantro, diced
¼ cup parsley, diced
1. prepare your ingredients. if using fresh tomatoes–place them in a covered bowl with boiling water for a couple of minutes, then peel them. cut them into fourths and remove the seeds. pulse them in a food processor until you get a smooth puree. chop the celery sticks and dice the onion.
2. heat oil in a large pot on medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer, then add diced onion, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, and ras el hanout, and cook for about three minutes.
3. lower the heat to medium. add the water, tomatoes, celery, saffron, lentils, chickpeas (if using dried), and butter. cover and allow to cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. add the canned chickpeas. add the tomato paste and flour in bit by bit, stirring continously (you may find this easier if you dilute the tomato paste and flour with some broth from the soup first). taste and adjust spices.
5. add the vermicelli, cilantro, and parsley. cover and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked.
harira is often served as a first dish during Ramadhan with khobz, dates, and walnuts.