MOROCCAN ROASTED BELL PEPPER & TOMATO SALAD

Known as tchoutchouka, this is one of the most popular Moroccan salads. It is best served warm with bread as a tartine or side to any dinner.

2 medium green bell peppers
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground paprika


Line the surroundings of a gas burner with aluminum foil (you’ll be thankful you did when the pepper starts dripping its sticky juices). Turn on the flame to medium-high and char the peppers on all sides until blackened and blistered all over, about 10 minutes. Use tongs to turn them as they can get very hot.

Place the peppers in a paper bag and close it, for about 15 minutes, to allow the peppers to sweat and their skin to become softer. Peel the skin off the peppers using your fingers. Discard the stem and seeds. Finely dice the peppers. Set aside.

Place the tomatoes in a medium skillet with olive oil. Add the garlic and season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, cumin and paprika. Cook the tomatoes until they become soft and turn into somewhat of a thick, chunky sauce, 10 to 15 minutes. Mix in the diced peppers and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste the seasoning and adjust to your taste.

Serve warm or at room temp.

Serves 4

PEPPERY RED BEAN STEW

1 medium yellow onion
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and coarsely cut
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons harissa or other hot sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
1 cup tomato sauce
3.5 cups vegetable broth
6 ounces dried red beans, presoaked for 3 to 5 hours and drained


Chop the onion, red peppers and garlic very finely in a food processor.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables, harissa, vinegar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Cook until the vegetables are softened and fragrant, 5 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, broth and beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the beans are soft and the sauce reduced, 1h15 to 1h30 min. Discard the bay leaves. Serve warm.

Serves 4 to 6

MOROCCAN COUSCOUS SOUP

2 leeks, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 bay leaves
5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup whole grain couscous


Place the leeks and olive oil in a pot. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, celery and bay leaves. Stir in with ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook over gentle heat, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat. Discard the bay leaves. Add the couscous, cover with a lid and let stand 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Serve steaming hot.

Serves 4

BAKED STUFFED APPLES

4 Gala, or other baking variety, apples
¼ cup chopped dates
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon coconut oil or unsalted butter, divided in four
1 cup apple juice or cider


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Core the apples, making a hole about an inch wide, removing all seeds and leaving the bottom intact.

Combine the dates, raisins and walnuts with the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

Stuff each apple with the fruit and nut mixture and mound some on top. Place a quarter of the butter on each apple.

Place the apples and the apple juice in a rimmed baking pan pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Discard the foil. Baste the apples with the pan juices and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whip cream.

Serves 4

RED LENTIL SOUP

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ½ cups red lentils
1 cup tomato puree
5 cups vegetable broth
4 bay leaves


In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the red onion until translucent 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add the lentils, tomato puree, vegetable broth and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook over gentle heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4

SIMPLE LENTIL STEW

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 celery stalks, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups green lentils, rinsed and picked over
3 cups vegetable stock
5 cups water
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


Heat the olive oil and tomato paste in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the celery and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the lentils, stock, water, thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with a lid and cook until the lentils are tender, about 50 minutes.

Serve the stew warm. Top it with a dollop of Greek yogurt, some olive oil and minced celery leaves, if you wish.

Serves 4

MOROCCAN POTATO FRITTERS

3 medium Russet potatoes, peeled, coarsely grated and drained
2 eggs
6 sprigs parsley, chopped
6 sprigs cilantro, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon paprika powder
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup all purpose flour
About 1 cup canola oil for frying


Soak the shredded potatoes in a bowl of water for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander. Dry the potatoes in a kitchen towel to remove moisture.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add the shredded potatoes, parsley, cilantro, garlic, paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper and flour.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

Roll the potato mixture into balls and flatten to form 3-inch patties. Carefully deposit the patties in the pan and fry them until golden and crispy, 6 to 7 minutes per side. Drain them on absorbent paper towels.

Serve with lime wedges or yogurt sauce.

Serves 8

MUNG BEAN & SPINACH SOUP

1 large onion
1 large tomato
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
6.5 cups vegetable broth (or a mix of broth and water)
1 cup green mung beans, preferably pre-soaked
2 cups chopped spinach or other edible green
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon


Process the onion, tomato and garlic in a food processor until minced. Transfer to a soup pot.

Stir in the ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt, pepper. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes until fragrant. Add the vegetable broth/water. Bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the mung beans, cover and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the beans are open and soft, and the soup is thicker.

Remove from the heat. Incorporate the spinach, olive oil and lemon juice. Stir and let sit 10 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt and the soup to cool down a bit. Serve the soup by itself or with warm cooked rice or flatbread.

Serves 4

STEWED CHERRIES & ALMOND GRANITA

For the cherries
2 cups cherries, stemmed
2 tablespoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 small cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon almond extract

For the granita
2 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
3 tablespoons agave syrup
1/8 teaspoon almond extract


To make the stewed cherries, place all the ingredients for the cherries in a medium saucepan.
Simmer over medium heat until the cherries are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate until serving time.

Combine the almond milk, agave syrup and almond extract in a rectangular plastic container fitted with a tight lid. Freeze for 2 hours.

Remove from the freezer and crush with a fork. Cover with the lid and freeze again for at least 2 hours.

At serving time, place the cherries in the bottom of a glass or bowl. Using a fork, crush the granita, making long vigorous raking motions. Spoon the crushed granita over the cherries.

Enjoy right away.

Serves 4

MOROCCAN ROASTED EGGPLANT SALAD

This salad is know under the Moroccan name zaalouk. The eggplants can be fried or oven-roasted.

For the eggplants
1 medium eggplant
1/3 cup olive oil

For the sauce
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut off the top and bottom of the eggplant and peel it, leaving sporadic strips of skin throughout. Cut it into 1/2-inch slices. If the eggplant is old and excessively seedy, you may need to salt and drain it for at least 30 minutes before use, otherwise proceed directly. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer in a large baking dish or cookie sheet and generously brush both sides with olive oil. Roast them for 25 to 30 minutes until tender. (Alternatively, you could fry the eggplant slices until tender.)

Remove from the oven and mash the eggplants on a cutting board with a fork or potato masher.

In a medium sauté pan, cook the tomatoes with garlic and olive oil over medium heat, for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sea salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the mashed eggplants and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, mashing them some more with a spatula to completely blend with the tomatoes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar.

Serve warm, cold or at room temperature, garnished with chopped parsley. Serve with flatbread or crusty bread.

Serves 4