Algerian Ploughman's Lunch


For the salad:
1 fennel, the bulb sliced and remainder shredded
1 onion, sliced thinly
Olive oil, preferably Algerian
The" Pickle" (relish or chutney): Harissa
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
The Crusty Bread: Algerian Bouzgene Berber bread
1 pound semolina
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil


For the salad:
Cut the orange in half and squeeze out the juice from one end. Whisk the juice with a splash of oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the fennel and endive with the orange dressing and let sit in the fridge for at least one hour. The juices will start to cook the onion. To serve, cut the remaining half of the orange into wedges and arrange atop the salad.
The "Pickle" (relish or chutney): Harissa
Soak the dried chilies in hot water for 30 minutes, drain and remove stems and seeds (keep a bit of seed if you like things really spicy). Combine in a food processor with remaining spices. Add olive oil until the sauce is a nice, smooth consistency and salt and pepper to taste. It will keep for at least a month in the refrigerator.
The Crusty Bread: Algerian Bouzgene Berber bread
Coarsely mix the semolina, salt and 2 T oil, then gradually add water - kneading until the dough is no longer sticky. Shape the dough into four balls and roll each ball into a flat round ~1/4 in. thick. Fry each round until dark spots appear, then flip and repeat. You can also bake the pita at 375F until it stops puffing.
The Beer: Never one to recommend an English beer, my plan is to honor Germany here




The Ploughman's is a cold meal composed of a slab of cheese, a pickle (actually what Americans would call relish or chutney), crusty bread, a salad and a beer. Algerians, particularly fond of salads and possessing a passionate affinity for fennel, provided an easy recipe to add a burst of bright, crisp flavors to our Ploughman's. A complex interplay of European and Arab influences with unusually French styles, Algerian cooking is fascinating and we'll be sure to visit it again next week.

Harissa is a hot chili paste that is commonly found in North African cooking but can also be purchased in Middle Eastern stores. Typically made from piri piri and Tunisian hot red peppers, the flavors are not unlike those of New Mexican and Guajillo peppers that may be easier to find state-side, depending on your access to a Middle Eastern grocer.




Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - 10:05pm


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