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Archive for November 29th, 2011

As the second course of our 4 course Moroccan meal this past weekend, I present the Trio of Moroccan Salads; these salads came out of our second cooking class at Maison MK. Our Chef, Omar El Ouahssoussi ran a very professional kitchen and both JT and I were equally impressed; colour coded cutting boards, one for meat and one for vegetables!

Chef Omar El Ouahssoussi

The class started out meeting the chef and the guide (not sure why, our chef spoke near perfect English) and we headed out to the souks to buy the food for our class. Our first stop was the vegetable vendor, where we bought onions, carrots, aubergine (egg plant) and courgette (zucchini). Then off to the spice vendor; I thought this was for our entertainment as the kitchen would be well stocked with the required spices, but the chef actually bought spices to give us as a gift! Then we stopped at the meat vendor where we bought our lamb and lastly the fresh herb vendor where we picked up some mint. But I digress, back to the salads.

Our shopping excursion

As our starter we have chosen to prepare the three salads that Chef Omar taught us to make, Aubergine, Courgette and Carrot Salads. We will serve them as close to the way Chef Omar served them to us. While preparing the salads, the one thing Chef Omar mentioned is that in Morocco, it is better to over cook than under cook, so the salads are all cooked vegetables richly flavoured with spices. I imagine this was originally done to rid the food of bacteria and if the food had spoiled a bit, the spices would make them palatable…but not in our case, the salads were unbelievably delicious! Over cooking reminded me of an article Greg sent over about a month or do ago from the New York Times. Click here for an interesting read.

Chef Omar generously gave us printouts of each of the recipes we cooked; sadly the translation is not as good, but I will fill in the gaps with my memory!

Trio of Cooked Moroccan Salads

Aubergine Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium aubergines, chopped evenly into 1 cm or 1/2 inch cubes with the skins on (recipe calls for 1kg, which is too much)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and paper to taste
  • 1/4 cup each finely chopped fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley.

Directions:

  1. In a large pot cover the chopped aubergine with water, add the lemon juice and stir well (the lemon prevents it from turning brown)
  2. Cook over a medium simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the aubergine is soft.
  3. Drain water well and return to hot pot and cook off as much liquid as possible.
  4. Add garlic, tomato paste and spices and simmer for another 10 minutes, mashing the soft aubergine with a fork. Mix in both oils.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Once cooled to room temperature, add the fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley and mix in well. Serve cold or at room temperature, shaped into little molds garnished with arugula and spinach.

Courgette salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 smallish courgettes, coarsest grated it cut into small even cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp white vinegar (to help maintain the bright green colour)
  • Salt and paper to taste
  • 1/4 cup each finely chopped fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley.

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a medium sized frying pan and stir fry the courgettes until soft.
  2. Add the vinegar, garlic and the spices.
  3. Mix in both oils and season with salt and paper to taste.
  4. Once cooled to room temperature, add the fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley and mix in well.
  5. Serve cold or at room temperature, shaped into little molds garnished with arugula and spinach.

Carrot salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 large carrots cut into small even cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and paper to taste
  • 1/4 cup each finely chopped fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley.

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, cover carrot cubes with water and simmer until they are soft.
  2. Strain water off and return to pan and cook the remaining moisture off.
  3. Add the lemon juice, garlic and the spices and cook for about 5 minutes longer (carrots should be cubes but soft enough to squash – but don’t squash them), remove from heat.
  4. Mix in both oils and season with salt and paper to taste. Once cooled to room temperature, add the fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley and mix in well.
  5. Serve cold or at room temperature, shaped into little molds garnished with arugula and spinach.

Courgette is top left, carrot is top right and the aubergine is front and centre

And I’ve finally got all the photos up on Shutterfly, so if you’re interested (and I am beyond flattered if you are), you are welcome to view our humble vacation photos in this link.

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