L: salade marocaine; R: salade d’aubergine
It’s December 22– how are you feeling? How are you eating?
It’s about this time of year– the holidays– that my diet begins to get unbalanced. My timeworn advice to have just a bit of a treat, rather than having a zero tolerance eating policy, can get dangerous when faced with holiday celebrations that offer only treats. I have to make a conscious effort to remember why my daily diet is #mostlyplants– not only is it better for me, I feel much better.
So let’s reframe this thought, and treat vegetables as treats— because they most definitely can be. I’m sharing the two dishes which opened my recent Moroccan Supperclub. Salads are the traditional starters to Moroccan meals, and the flavors in these simple to prepare, but tantalizingly flavored, recipes will show you why. I chose the two salads I found most commonly on my summer trip to Morocco– Salade Marocaine (a tomato salad), and Salade d’Aubergine (eggplant salad with warm Moroccan spices). These will add some mystery, spice, and most importantly, vegetables, to your holiday spread. They’re easy to prepare in advance so they would make a great potluck option.
Happy holidays to you, and may you have a delicious and interesting new year!
To your health!
Salade Marocaine (Moroccan Tomato Salad)
Adapted from Saveur, 2000.
3 medium ripe tomatoes, or 6 Roma tomatoes (preferred in winter)
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 minced seeded green chile
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
- Dice tomatoes and place in a strainer. Sprinkle with salt, toss gently, and allow to drain for 30 minutes.
- Combine parsley, green chile, cumin, white vinegar, and olive oil in a medium bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add tomatoes, mix thoroughly, and serve at room temperature
Salade d’Aubergine/Zaalouk (Moroccan Roasted Eggplant Salad)
This warm Moroccan Eggplant Salad (Zaalouk) combines cooked eggplant, tomatoes, and classic spices and is enjoyed as a side or alone with lots of bread. The cinnamon is not traditional, but I added it because cinnamon was featured in my favorite version of this at Café la Tolérance, Essaouira, Morocco.
Adapted from Lands & Flavors blog.
1kg or a little over 2 lbs of eggplant
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
1½ teaspoons cumin
¼ teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes
½ cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
black pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ to ½ cup (a large handful) cilantro, chopped
olive oil for roasting the eggplant and for finishing the salad
- Peel the eggplant, leaving a few strips of skin for color and structure, and slice lengthwise into ¼ inch thick slices. Drizzle a large parchment-lined baking sheet with a generous tablespoon of olive oil and arrange the slices evenly. Drizzle another generous Tablespoon of olive oil over the slices, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and roast in a 450°F oven. Roast until the slices are cooked and browned, around 35 minutes. Once they are golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes on the counter.
- In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic and cook for around 30 seconds. Add the paprika, cumin, cinnamon and hot pepper flakes and bloom the spices in the hot oil for 10 seconds before quickly adding the chopped tomatoes, water, salt, black pepper, and bay leaf. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes.
- Now chop the cooked eggplant slices into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the sauté pan, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
- The eggplant should now be fully cooked and tender but shouldn’t have disintegrated. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and the chopped cilantro. Give it a taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
If you enjoyed these recipes, you will also like these other creative, slightly different, healthier holiday options:
Join my community at www.Facebook.com/TheDoctorsSpicebox for more recipes and nutrition tips!