Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Moroccan Munchies

I never really understood the movie Casablanca. What can I say: maybe it’s Humphrey Bogart. I just can’t get behind someone with the name Humphrey. Do they call him Hump for short? “Hey, Hump!” I have the problem of not being able to disconnect between a celebrity’s personal life and on-screen persona. I refuse to see any Tom Cruise movie because of his wackadoo Scientologist views. And Christian Bale? He’s known to be the biggest verbally abusive prick in Hollywood, but damn if he doesn’t make good movies (sadly).

Regarding Casablanca, I know I’m speaking romantic and classic movie blasphemy right now, but this post isn’t really about my sorry cinematic views, but FOOD! Doesn’t it always involve food? I love Mediterranean food so this weekend I whipped up several Moroccan favorites: baba ganoush, a tasty carrot salad (parve), zaulook, which is an eggplant dish served hot or cold, and a big bowl of roasted vegetables with Israeli (aka pearl) couscous. Lots of eggplant, lots of olive oil, lots of parsley, and lots of chowing down.

There is something innately sensual about Mediterranean food: the aromatics of it all, the fact you eat so much of it by hand. Unfortunately the Hopkins household version include sweatpants and football games, but hey, that’s just our flavor. I can’t imagine Matt feeding me olives and fruit with a crackling fire behind us – yuck!

I was inspired because we visited a Moroccan restaurant with our in-laws a couple weeks back and I was in love with the first course, which had an array of cold salads/spreads: hummus, baba ganoush, parve, zaulook, and a wonderful and cool diced cucumber and tomato salad that I’ll have to replicate soon. Moroccan food just has so much character – I could give a FIG (get it, get it?!) about meat and potato entries, but when chicken is covered with apricots or vegetables are roasted on a smoky hearth I go gaga. I also liked that our waiter, who went by Moses (we did not ascertain if that was his real name) looked like a pirate, and that Matt and his father had to dance with our female belly dancer, their faces flush with embarrassment. (The male belly dancer – and oh, yes, there was one and Omar was his name– did not come near my mother-in-law and me. I’m not sure what to make of that.)

A few of my favorite things (and colors)...
That gorgeous globe on the left is a Sicilian eggplant.
Refreshing, bright, and vibrant.

Moroccan Carrot Salad
  • 7 carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 3 Tb. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring salted water to a boil (enough to cover the carrots). Boil for approx. 8 minutes, and then drain and rinse under cold water. (Carrots should have a slight crispness to them still; not mushy.) In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the carrot salad.

Olives are a nice touch to add a certain saltiness and brininess (is that a word) to the dish. I didn't add them because I'm not a fan, but we later chopped some up and mixed in, and I have to admit, it was pure delight.
Baba Ghanoush
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 Tb. sesame seeds
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 Tb. olive oil
Preheat over to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet and place the eggplant on it. Be sure to make holes in the skin of the eggplant with a fork before baking. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, turning, until soft. Remove from the oven and cool the eggplant in ice water. Then peel the skin off (should be easy if the eggplant is well-roasted).

Place the eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds, and garlic in a blender or food processor and puree. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and slowly mix in the olive oil. Refrigerate for about 3 hours before serving.

May not look that enticing, but it is.

Moroccan Eggplant Dip (Zaalouk)
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro and parsley, mixed
  • 1 Tb. paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a large skillet or pot and cook over medium to medium-high heat for approx. 30 minutes. Using a spoon smash the mixture until smooth and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold with pita.

We then finished our feast with a big bowl of roasted veggies with Israeli couscous. Divine!


  1. lookit you and your bad self... this all looks phenomenal. drool.

  2. The cous cous and veggies look great, and the carrots are beautiful.
    Brings back good memories of Moses and Omar.

    Like the new blog look.


  3. Thank you ladies! It was a blast to use up all the produce in my refrigerator!

  4. See? It's a post such as this that makes me a) oh so glad that we've made the transition from work-folk to friends and b) contemplate becoming that one friend who not-so-mysteriously keeps popping up for meals :)

  5. Kathryn,

    It all looks so yummy! Fabulous job! I'm glad to be back in the blogging world, hope you are doing ok!


  6. Rosie,
    Thank you and welcome back (and congrats on the twins!!!). I write a lot about trying to get those one of those little buggers through IVF and other means. Glad to hear you're doing so well.

    I'm not going to get all syrupy but our friendship has meant a lot, and you know, with friendship comes passes for free meals at Chateau de Chow - so stop on over!

  7. I'm crashing the party with Danita, can I get some Baba Ghanoush! Also, Love the new look!