Moroccan Flavors Go Plant Based
Moroccan food is a treasure trove of plant based flavors. Their traditional dishes, like tagine, are usually graced with plenty of vegetables, spices, sweet and tart balance, and fresh herbs. When I visit Moroccan restaurants, though, the vegetarian tagine is usually pretty bland, while the meat based dishes get all the attention. That is why I like to make my own versions of Moroccan food, and borrow the combinations from the meaty recipes and use them to make spectacularly tasty plant based dishes.
Like this Moroccan B’Stilla. Based on a pie usually made with poultry, this one is packed with dried fruit, spices, chickpeas, almonds, and a hit of coconut milk and lemon. Instead of the hard-to-find Brik pastry, I used easy to get filo dough, and basted it with refined coconut oil instead of butter. The result is a gorgeous, bronzed ruffle of crisp filo, encasing an intense, sweet-savory filling.
I think you are going to love it.
Crispy Filo is Easy and Beautiful
If you’ve worked with filo, you know it is usually based with butter. Filo is a paper-thin sheet of smooth flour and water dough, and when you stack it up with a sweep of oil in between the sheets, it bakes up into a fantastically crisp pastry. My earliest experiences with filo were in a restaurant kitchen, making large pans of spanakopita. Of course we basted the sheets with butter, and I though that was the only way to do it. It was the 90’s before I started playing with using other fats in place of butter, to great success. Olive oil works well, although the final product is a little less crisp. Coconut oil is my favorite plant-based solution, because it produces a nice, crisp pastry, and it stays nice and crunchy for a surprisingly long time after baking.
Prunes are Dried Plums
The fun thing about this pie is the surprise of biting into dried fruit in the same dish as chickpeas and onions. The deep, concentrated flavors of dried apricots and prunes really give it some wieght, which is balanced with lemon zest and juice.
I hope we can all embrace the prune as a delicious food, and stop thinking of it as “Senior” food. Yes, it’s full of fiber, but it’s not just for “moving things along.”
If you’re a plant-based eater, this is a keeper- it will impress your friends and family, no matter their diet-style.
That’s a win-win in my book.
Moroccan Chickpea B’Stilla
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup pitted prunes sliced
- 1 cup dried apricot chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 10 full sheets filo dough
- 1/2 cup whole almonds toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prepare a 9 inch round pie pan. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat, then saute the onions for about 20 minutes, reducing the heat to low once they soften. When the onions are soft and golden, add the spices and stir until fragrant, about five minutes over low heat. Add the beans, fruit, salt, zest and juice and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Cook until very thick. Let cool.
- Spray or oil the baking pan, then place a sheet of filo on it. Oil the dough, pressing it into the pan. Place another sheet perpendicular to the first, and alternate, oiling each sheet as you go. When all are used, put the filling in the pan, top with almonds, and fold the filo over the top to cover. Use your fingertips to fluff and ruffle the the filo, and oil generously on top. Cut a couple of slits in the top for steam.
- Place a sheet of oil on top of the pie in the oven, not tucking it under, just to keep the top from browning too quickly. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the filo is golden brown and crisp.