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Charming Charmoula Herb Paste

Charmoula (a.k.a. chermoula) is an all-purpose North African herb paste used as a marinade, sauce, relish, dip, and spread. It can be used as a sauce for meat or couscous or pasta, or as a spread on pita bread, or as a marinade. There are many different ways to prepare charmoula. Some are raw, some cooked, some coarsely chopped, some pureed.

There are five components to charmoula: olive oil, greens (usually cilantro or flat leaf parsley), acid (lemon juice or vinegar), aromatics (garlic, onions, shallots, leeks), and spices (such as ras el hanout).

As background for this recipe, read these articles, The Science of Herbs & Spices, The Science of Chiles, the Science of Garlic, and The Science of Salt.

Makes. 1 1/2 cups

Preparation time. 30 minutes

Ingredients

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)

3/4 cup olive oil

1 cup cilantro leaves and flat leaf parsley, de-veined and lightly packed

6 cloves crushed garlic

1 teaspoon ras el hanout

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

About the cilantro and parsley. That's 1 cup total, your call on how much of each. If you can't find flat leaf parsley or cilantro, you can use basil, mint, other parsleys, and other mild herbs.

Method

1) Scrape off the zest of one of the lemons, just the thin yellow exterior, trying to not get the white pith, and add it to a bowl.

2) Cut the lemons in half and squeeze out the juice into a separate bowl. Then strain it into the bowl with the zest.

3) Chop the greens finely and add to the bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and stir. If you wish, you can add the whole thing to a food processor and puree it until smooth.

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