Moroccan Salad Course, part 1

Moroccan meals are epic, every meal I read about feels like a wedding feast! That is how I like to cook, I am always told I make way too much food, but you never know how many people will come in the end! I invite upwards of 40 people every time, and like a university, I hope that about 20 people come. Generally, some let me know in advance, which is appreciated, but a few people are always known to just show up, so I always make extra.

My friend was just telling me last night about weddings in Morocco. You send out invitations, but are not required to RSVP, and then you never know how many people will come. However, you don’t start eating until everyone arrives,  but again, you never know how many are going to come, so sometimes the eating does not begin until 3 in the morning! Crazy!

Well at the beginning of these feasts, you are always served a huge salad course. Generally, for a group of 10, at least a dozen little salads are expected. I was a bit short on time, so I only managed 3, so we will call this a “mini salad course.” Next weekend, I will add the remaining recipes after I take some better photos!

The salads are not what we are accustomed to. Some I can more closely refer to as slaws, or sauces, or dips, Moroccan salads are sometimes made almost entirely out of meat! It is really more of an antipasti course. They are meant to excite your appetite for the very very large meal to come!

I like to serve the salads with some Hobz, a simple Moroccan Tagine Bread, a big pad of butter, and a cup of honey. My favorite way to eat most of these salads are as a topping on top of a buttered piece of Hobz.  Make sure you bake the Hobz the same morning, it is a beautifully easy recipe! Most of these salads can be made a day or two before and stored in the fridge!

My general game plan is to make at least 1 full recipe of a salad for every 2 people that come. So a group of 6 would be served at least 3 salads, but maybe more!

Roasted Red Pepper Salad

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4 large bell peppers
1 tbsp, salt
3-4 tbsp. olive oil
1 small tomato, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp chopped parsley

Roast peppers on the open flame of your stove top. Carefully turn them regularly to get an even black coat.
Remove to a cutting board to cool.
Once cooled, peel, remove the seeds and cut into quarters.
Mix with the salt and set in a colander to drain for about an hour.
Rub with paper towels to dry further.
Heat up olive oil in cast iron pan and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, tomatoes, cumin, and parsley and sauté for another minute.
Season with salt and pepper, add some more oil if a bit dry and cool before serving.

Total cooking time: 1 hr 30 minutes

Grated Carrot Salad

IMG_3382

1 pound carrots, I like multicolor carrots, grated
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
pinch of cinnamon
juice and zest of one lemon (more lemon juice to taste)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 cup golden or green raisins, soaked for 10 minutes in hot water, drained
olive oil, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
finishing salt
chopped parsley, for garnish

Combine all but oil, parsley, and finishing salt
Cover and chill until serving.
Drizzle with oil, mix a bit, sprinkle parsley and salt to serve.

Total cooking time: 20 minutes

Grated Cucumber Salad

IMG_3380

3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and grated
2 tbsp. sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. orange blossom water
salt and peper
finishing salt
mint, to garnish

Squeeze out excess juice from cucumbers in a colander. Press with your fingers to get as much juice out as possible.
Combine all of the ingredients save the mint.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Garnish with some coarsely chopped fresh mint to serve.

Total cooking time: 20 minutes

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