Moroccan Meatless Feast
Simchat Torah 2018!
We have been hosting the Simchat Torah Party ever since we got married, forty two years ago. We call it affectionately the Drunken Lunch. This is the day we are are told to make lots of Lechaims, and when all guests arrive in various degrees of soberness. Or should I say drunkenness? It always start at the borderline of late lunch and early dinner, in order to make tolerant previsions for the disarray that never fails to take place in Schul on that day. Joyous Controlled Chaos. Incidentally, Simchat Torah marks, give or take just a couple days in the Jewish Calendar, our Hebrew Wedding Anniversary: October 21st 1976 in English (oh gosh, circa the Carter Administration), Kof Zayin (27) Tishrei in Hebrew: one added reason for this marriage veteran – or should I say survivor – and her husband, to celebrate!
Is Moroccan Meatless Feast an Oxymoron?
But this time around, I was determined to accomplish two things in one fell swoop:
- Not to include any meat or poultry dishes. This Simchat Torah meal marks the closure of a whole month of festivities that include no end of meat and poultry. I cannot think of a better antidote to the meat overload than a meatless/fish/vegetarian theme.
- Moroccan! We host over 35 guests on that day, Moroccan food worshippers all. Here is my chance – and theirs! – to get treated to an all-Moroccan feast. And here is a chance for all our glorious vegetable dishes, to get fully vindicated, and get the ultimate showcase treatment. Likewise, here is a unique chance to include some Moroccan street food only a native would include. I am specifically thinking here of something as plebeian and as luscious as Fava Bean Soup. Nobody but an old hippie girl like me would even dream of offering such humble fare to distinguished company. But that’s just it: You will only eat it either right in the streets of Marrakesh, or at the home of a rebel hostess like me. And sure enough, all guests swooned about it, and kept asking, how come we NEVER had this anywhere before
Our Moroccan Meatless Feast Menu:
It was glorious just as it was, so I am leaving it intact. Again, ALL Moroccan recipes
Yes, we Moroccan have glorious antipasto, even though we don’t call it that. Israelis just call it Salatim and dig into them throughout the meal.
Olive Lemon Salad That’s right: Not Salad with Olives! We Moroccans grew up eating olives at every meal, not only in salads but cooked with our dishes. In this dish, they ARE the salad. I love mixing and matching good quality olives for this olive salad. The lemon here is not a garnish, but a real ingredient in its own right, and gets eaten, skin and all. In this salad, the olives are the star, practically all by themselves.
Eggplant Salad with Preserved Lemons Eggplant salad is a huge favorite in our Sephardi Cooking. We make eggplant salad in dozens of ways. This dish is all roasted, so it is pretty streamlined, and pretty lean. This eggplant salad version is overlaid with Moroccan flavors. Preserved lemons, Moroccan oil-cured olives, Moroccan herbs and spices. The end result is much like Zaalouk, sans tomatoes.
Roasted Pepper and Artichoke Salad: No recipe. Good quality bottled roasted red peppers, frozen or canned artichoke bottoms, sliced. Add olive oil, lemon juice and zest, ground pepper, pinch red pepper flakes, oregano.
Rice-filled grape leaves. I almost never buy anything ready made. I make a significant exception for these vegetarian grape leaves, as they are 100% natural and delicious.
Tehina Sauce with Zaatar. I just whisked tehina paste with water until nice and smooth, and added zaatar, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper. And drizzled olive oil over all.
I centered all the Antipasto salads right along the center of the buffet.
Now the buffet dishes proper:
Full disclosure: I didn’t want to look at Challah any more, let alone serve it. But I had an elegant solution for the bread: I bought a stack of delicious Laffas from Grill 212, and served them piping hot. It turned out to be a well-inspired idea, as my guests couldn’t tear off those hunks fast enough, or dunk them deep enough!
Fava Bean Soup I brought the crockpot right to the table, and watched it get wiped out.
Israeli salad with loads of herbs I enrich with lots of good herbs, and dress it with a terrific Tehina Zaatar Dressing. More chopping than I like to do, but the good news is, my chopped salad can be easily elevated to main course status.
Potato Omelette A great favorite in our Moroccan cuisine. This rustic dish (Amhammar) is a good example of how we make something rich (eggs) or starchy (potatoes) go a long way.
Swiss Chard Fresh Date Tajine My Chickpea Tajine is chock-full of delicious stuff:Dates, Swiss chard, almonds. Does this sound fabulous and nutritious or what? Chickpea tajine makes for a very substantial vegetarian main course dish!
Summer Couscous This Vegetable Couscous is a summery version of the all-time classic: We make it light by using quick-cooking and fragrant light summer vegetables, like fennel, artichokes, zucchini, tomatoes. ————————————
Roasted Salmon with Lemon Caper Sauce This is one of my favorite salmon dishes: It is so simple, so zippy and so delicious. We Sephardis are suckers for Mustard-Caper-Lemon Trinity.
Smoked Fish Mousse I know it sounds pretty corny, right? I played with a few funky ingredients and ended up with this fabulous mousse. This is such a fun dish to use as a spread or thinly sliced over good bread or crackers.—————————————————
Makrod is a great North African Dessert Classic. It showcases some of my absolute flavors: semolina, dates and honey. I have always rather neglected this wonderful treat because the traditional preparation requires frying, my nemesis. Frankly, I don’t think I have more than a handful of fried dishes in my whole repertoire. But, I tweaked the recipe to do my bidding as a baked, not fried, treat, and the result is scrumptious! Sephardi flavors at their best.
Almond Fillo Pastries They are a staple in our Moroccan Pastry repertoire. There is no Moroccan Dessert display without fillo pastries, first cousins of Baklava. Although I am showcasing the glorious almond in the filling of these Fillo Pastries, you certainly could use the walnut or pistachio filling listed in my Baklava recipe link.
Anise Sesame Galettes Galettes are as close to food as to dessert. I make them with spelt flour and unrefined sugar (evaporated cane juice, available in health food stores, and increasingly available in supermarkets), and often call them lunch.
Quince Mold Quince are the delightful rustic and funky apple cousins that appear at the end of summer. Their seeds and skin are very gelatinous, and contribute a great deal to the gelling quince mold is so prized for.
Raw Halvah Pie OK. Seriously. It is the stuff of proverbial dreams: To die for, raw, gluten-free, easy, satisfying in small servings. You won’t believe this: It made me twenty servings! My Chocolate Halvah is overlaid with Sephardi Flavors.