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Chard with Ras el Hanout and Preserved Lemon

Traditionally, Moroccans would cook a hearty green like chard way down to an almost jam-like consistency. In this version, chef Mourad Lahlou takes a more Italian approach, blanching the greens and sautéing the stems. If you don’t have Urfa pepper, substitute red pepper flakes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 bunches rainbow chard, each 10 oz., preferably with red and
      gold stalks
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (1/8-inch dice)
  • 1 Tbs. ras el hanout
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, preferably Meyer lemon
  • 1/4 cup diced preserved lemon rind
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Urfa pepper or red pepper flakes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling (optional)

Directions:

Cut the stalks off the chard and set the leaves aside. Trim off the bottoms, narrow tops and outer edges of the stalks. Cut enough of the stalks into 3-by-1/8-inch matchsticks to yield 1 1/2 cups. Cut enough of the remaining stalks into 1/16-inch dice to yield 1 cup.  

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Working in batches, blanch the chard leaves until tender, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer to the ice water and let cool. Remove the leaves from the water, squeeze well to remove the excess liquid and coarsely chop them.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the grapeseed oil. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the chard matchsticks, ras el hanout and a pinch of salt and cook until the matchsticks begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the diced stalks and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the leaves and cook for 1 minute.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, preserved lemon and Urfa pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Serves 6.

Adapted from Mourad: New Moroccan, by Mourad Lahlou (Artisan, 2011).