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Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas and Saffron Aioli

Moroccan fish is made in a skillet with chickpeas and lentils. Served over rice with saffron aioli it is a simple and delicious dish.

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Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas and Saffron Lime Aioli

I’m not trying to become the skillet queen or anything close. But it is true that I am not a fan of dirtying too many dishes or utensils.

My husband is grateful for that. However in the winter since I don’t grill because of the cold, and I don’t eat as many salads because I want something warm, I do tend to cook on the stove.

I love to cook one dish meals  like veggies and protein  all in one pan.

Then all I have to do is  add a salad or a starch. And maybe some bread. (I love bread, so that is an extra special meal when that is in the mix.)

And dessert, well that is a subject better left untouched, because I love dessert. And like I said, in our house it should be untouched. But oh, how dessert can brighten your day!

So that is why today we are doing fish. SORRY!

But this is a great recipe that I found in the Jewish cookbook that I checked out at the library. I am really digging this cookbook, “Jewish Holiday Cooking” by Jayne Cohen published in 2008.

Surely, I’ve been living in another universe for awhile now otherwise I don’t have a good excuse for never having heard of this book. Soon I hope to buy a copy. Yes, it really is that good.

Jayne writes with conviction about the Jewish history of food and talks about how various foods became traditional. She throws in family history too.

Jayne has Italian Jewish roots so her food is different than the dishes I grew up with. My family’s roots are from Lithuania, Poland and Russian and my dad didn’t arrive here until 1938. He was only 7.

I grew up in a small town with a small Jewish community. We didn’t have a local deli or a bagel store.

The Jewish food I had was cooked by someone I knew or if we were lucky after a night on the town in Chicago, my parents on their drive home would stop at a late night deli for take out.

It was a lucky Sunday when we would be greeted with white butcher paper wrapped packages that contained corned beef, pastrami and lox. And a smoke fish. And a bag of onion rolls…

When my grandma would visit from Detroit she would carry grocery brown paper bags of bagels on the plane to bring to us.

But enough memories. Let’s stick to the book so they say. It has some great takes on traditional dishes plus some clever new Sephardic recipes that never were seen in Kankakee.

At least not in my home or cooked by my mother. In any case, I hope the library doesn’t mind  my dog eared pages and I am very careful about fixing them before returning my books. I mean it’s not like I let grease spots get on any of the pages.

This book has all the traditional  recipes for chopped liver and kugels and soup.

But Jayne is a very good cook, I can tell. She does things like Duck and White Bean Cholent and Rhubarb Prune Tsimmes.

Maybe I might like these if my mom had made them with those ingredients. I can’t wait to try the Artichoke Soup or the Sauteed  Chive Mamaliga with Feta Scallion Sauce.

And I wouldn’t mind the Challah French Toast with Mango Ginger Maple Syrup for breakfast.

But that’s not what’s for dinner. Tonight’s menu features Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas and Lentils and a Saffron-Lime Aioli.

I simplified by using canned chickpeas and I even had a can of lentils on hand so I used that too.

Improvising is my forte and I was also lacking coriander and cilantro. I love those two but what I made was very good.

It was a perfect meal to end our Friday with and it was quick to make. And one skillet.

Plus I have leftover aioli that I can eat on sandwiches or with my finger. Did I say healthy? No. Never mind. This is to good to be healthy-but it is!

I used ono to make this dish. Ono means good to eat in Hawaiian and it is.

I buy it at Costco in the frozen section. It is a mild flavored, steak type white fish that is commonly used in fish tacos. It is also known as wahoo.

This is  a great fish to bbq in the summer because of its meatiness. Don’t overcook or it will dry out.

And I guess it is a sports fish because it swims  fast as its body is shaped like a torpedo.

Yes, I know this is more than you ever wanted to know about ono. But in case you still play trivial pursuit, you just never know when this info may come in handy.

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Ono is good to eat!
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Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas and Saffron Lime Aioli or Another Skillet Dinner

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  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 25 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Moroccan


1 15 oz can garbanzos

1 15 oz can brown lentils (or just two cans of one or the other)

8 garlic cloves sliced

1 t red chili flakes or 4-6 dried red hot chili peppers

4-5 T olive oil

1/2 t ground coriander (This has a lemony taste. If you don’t have it leave it out!)

Salt and Pepper

2 ono fillets thawed or 1 lb snapper, cod, haddock or other firm fleshed white fish

2 T fresh lemon or lime juice

1 t cumin seeds toasted and ground (I used 1/2 t ground cumin because cumin isn’t my fave)

1/4 c chopped cilantro (I was out so I used Italian parsley)

1 t grated lime or lemon zest (I used 1 T)

Saffron Lime Aioli

Saffron threads

1/2 c good quality mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s)

2 T fresh lime juice

1 T good olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely minced

3/4 t toasted cumin seeds ground (I used a pinch)

Salt and Pepper


Combine chickpeas and lentils with 1/2 c water, garlic, pepper flakes or peppers, 2T olive oil coriander and salt and pepper in skillet. (I use my 12″ cast iron.)
Simmer over low heat, covered for 30 minutes to marry the flavors.
Preheat oven to 350.
Now prepare the aioli.
Crush a pinch of saffron threads into a small bowl. Add 1 T hot water and stir. Let soak for about 10 minutes. Press threads with back of spoon to release more color and flavor. Stir in mayonnaise, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Let flavor develop while you make the fish.
Back to the Fish:
Discard pepper pods if you used those from chickpeas. Place the fish fillets on top of chickpeas and season with 2 T lemon or lime juice, cumin and salt and pepper. Top with 2 T chopped cilantro. (I used Italian parsley) Spoon a few chickpeas on top of fish. Drizzle everything with 2 T of olive oil.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. This depends on the variety of the fish used!
To Serve:
Scatter remaining 2 T cilantro or parsley, the lime or lemon zest, and more chili flakes if you prefer over the fish. Stir some of the aioli into the chickpeas and pan liquid. Drizzle a little over the fish and pass the rest separately. Or save to dip your fingers into on another day!

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Monday 7th of October 2013

I'm not a big fan of white fish, but this recipe makes it really yum!! I'm going to make this for the second time this weekend when my in-laws are coming to visit!

I use cod ...

Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe :)

Abbe Odenwalder

Monday 7th of October 2013

Silje, thanks so much for letting me know. It makes me so happy when people like my recipes. And now i will have to try it with cod, too!

Abbe Odenwalder

Saturday 6th of April 2013

I hate these comment things! Need to figure out a better way. But you are right John. For a fish dish this tends to be on the heartier side. I always work with what I've got. No planning ahead for me. That would be to easy!


Saturday 6th of April 2013

I hope this doesn't double post, Abbe. my first comment disappeared...

This dish sounds wonderful. Love that you didn't let a missing ingredient or two stop you from creating a delicious dinner. And it's heartier than most fish dishes. The chickpeas and lentils give the dish some body. What a great meal!

Abbe Odenwalder

Friday 5th of April 2013

I love this dish Laura as it is so simple but so good!

Laura Dembowski

Friday 5th of April 2013

I absolutely love fish! This looks like a wonderful dinner. I have yet to try Ono but it is on my list of things to try. I know I'd love it.