“The desert landscape is always at its best in the half-light of dawn or dusk. The sense of distance lacks: a ridge nearby can be a far-off mountain range, each small detail can take on the importance of a major variant on the countryside’s repetitious theme. The coming of day promises a change; it is only when the day had fully arrived that the watcher suspects it is the same day returned once again, the same day he has been living for a long time, over and over, still blindingly bright and untarnished by time.” – Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky. I recalled this passage whilst sitting on the rooftop of our Riad in the centre of the Medina in Marrakech looking out towards the Atlas Mountains in the far distance, storks like silver jets soaring high above us against an unremitting azure sky. Breakfast was a simple affair of spiced bulgur and roasted chickpeas topped with a vibrant lemony yoghurt dressing, cooked wild greens and warm rustic bread. The perfect start to a perfect day.
2 medium courgettes, thickly cut
Extra-virgin olive oil
500ml good quality vegetable stock
4 tsp ras-el-hanout
200g coarse bulgur wheat, well rinsed
660g jar Bold Bean Co organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
200g Tenderstem broccoli, trimmed
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
For the dressing:
1 preserved lemon, very finely chopped
150ml Greek yogurt
One lemon, zested and juiced
Small bunch of mint, leaves picked and finely chopped plus extra to serve
How I make it
Heat an oven to 220˚C.
Mix together the dressing ingredients and place in the fridge.
Place the courgettes on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season generously and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them over half way through and adding the unpeeled garlic to a corner of the tray 15 minutes in.
In the meantime, bring the stock to the boil. Add half the ras-el-hanout, a pinch of salt and the bulgur wheat. Turn the heat right down, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.
Add the chickpeas to the courgettes along with the remaining ras-el-hanout. And roast for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
At the same time, drop the broccoli into a pan of boiling generously salted water and blanch for four minutes. Drain and set aside.
Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and mash to a paste.
When you’re ready to serve, mix the spiced bulgar wheat with the chickpea mixture and stir in the garlic paste. Turn everything out onto a platter, top with the broccoli and spoon on the yoghurt dressing. Squeeze over the remaining lemon juice and scatter with lemon zest and a handful of mint leaves.