Moroccan Inspired Lamb Ribs with Chickpea Salad
Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Here at the mezze & tapas world headquarters, we are planners. The Elegant Baker and I try to have all the routine elements of our lives planned so that we are less stressed dealing with the inevitable curve balls life throws at you. One way we do that is to have a weekly meal plan, prepared before even starting a grocery list.
A challenge with this approach is deciding on Monday night “what will I want to eat on Saturday?”. Sometimes that is easier to do than others and this past week,it wasn’t easy at all. My solution was to offer a Mystery Meal night - that is “I have no idea now, and hope that I will by Saturday”
I suggested it, so I had to own it. I spent the week thinking about what I could possibly do -- and no ideas came. Saturday morning arrived, still no ideas. Then it struck me -- I’m starting a new blog.. Why not do something where I can double dip and use my meal as a post. Duh!
With a focus, I quickly honed in on Morocco -- one of my favorite cuisines of the Mediterranean. I love its complexity married to its simplicity. I love that it tastes at once familiar and yet exotic. And like the rest of the Mediterranean, I love that it relies on fresh, whole food ingredients.
I didn’t have time for a tagine -- on of Morocco’s signature dishes. I had to be out for most the day, so I needed something quicker that would still reflect the ingredients and flavors of an ‘authentic’ Moroccan dish.
Two of my favorite foods -- lamb and chickpeas became the center pieces of my dish, while relying on two classic Moroccan seasonings to bring it all together. The lamb is marinated in chermoula, which is a cilantro based marinade often used on fish, but good with a variety of meats and vegetables. The chickpea salad is seasoned with ras el hanout, a spice blend that is as unique as it is common in Moroccan cuisine (see note below). Together, they provide a rich and earthy flavor profile which give this dish the Moroccan flair.
The key to making this meal come together quickly is to have all of the slicing and chopping done before you begin cooking.
The chermoula took less than ten minutes to prepare (including coating the lamb). Once marinating, I had a least two hours before I began cooking. Right after the lamb went in the fridge, I cut the remaining veggies and set them aside in the fridge as well.
Just before we were ready to eat, I popped the lamb in the oven (it was already hot from a project of the Elegant Baker)
With the chickpea and tomato salad ingredients already prepped and portioned, I was able to complete making the salad while the ribs were cooking, ensuring that everything would be ready at the same time. Dinner was ready in 15 minutes and took me a world away to Morocco.
3 - 4 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 large bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)
4 lamb riblets
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 pequillo peppers, sliced into ¼“ wide strips
2 (14-ounce) cans organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp Ras Al Hanout -- moroccan spice blend or to taste
3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
Juice of ½ a lemon (optional)
Sea salt, to taste
Prepare the Chermoula - Add all the ingredients to a food processor and run on high for 30 seconds to combine. Chermoula should be smooth and the consistency of a thin paste.
Coat the lamb riblets all over with the chermoula, cover and refrigerate for at least two and up to six hours to marinade
Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C
Place the lamb on a sheet pan and roast Lamb in the oven for approximately 15 minutes (for medium rare, or 135 F/57 C)
While the lamb is cooking, prepare chickpea and tomato salad. Start by heating olive oil over a medium high heat in a large sauté pan.
Add the garlic and heat until it just starts to turn golden and begins to get fragrant
Next add the shallots and heat until they have softened just begun to caramelize.
Then add the piquillo peppers and the cherry tomatoes and heat until the tomatoes softened
Add the drained chickpeas and heat to warm through.
Remove from the heat, and add the ras al hanout and cilantro and toss fully combine
Squeeze the lemon juice over the top and add salt and pepper to taste and give one last gentle toss
Serve warm or at room temp
Notes: Ras el hanout is a spice blend that literally translates to “head of the shop” implying the very best of the spices the merchant has to offer. Since every shop and every family has their own version of ras el hanout, there is no ‘definitive’ version or recipe. I have my own blend I have been making for years, combining 15 different spices. I make it in large batches, then use it frequently in my cooking. There is often a version available in the grocery stores -- Whole Foods near me carries it, as does Amazon. Alternatively, you can make your own quick blend with spices that are individually easy to find . I make a large batch and store it in an airtight container to use whenever I want to add a Moroccan hint to my meals.
Ras El Hanount proxy recipe here:
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cloves