EPC and I had been looking for a Moroccan cookbook for ages. It seems that the majority of them place little focus on vegetarian options and lay heavy on the lamb. I guess this make sense, but we were hopeful that something out of the ordinary would present itself.
One Saturday afternoon last month, as we were drooling over the Emile Henry Tagines on display at our neighbourhood kitchen supply store, my husband noticed a copy of Ghillie Basan’s Tagines and Couscous rounding out the display of crockery. We flipped through it and in comparison to the other options we had, this cookbook had a fair selection of delicious-looking vegetarian tagines (8), couscous (3 out of 5 recipes), and side dishes (11). We jumped at the chance and purchased it on the spot.
Tonight was the first chance I had to delve into the cookbook and I settled on two salad dishes, one with chickpeas and the other, the star of the show, a delicious roasted eggplant and tomato salad.
Sure, roasting (and then peeling) eggplant and tomatoes is kind of a pain, but if you do it early in the afternoon and leave it on the counter to cool, the salad is ready in no time. We served it with some whole wheat pita bread left over from New Year’s Eve, but serving it with the recommended crusty bread would be even better. There is something about sopping up savoury dish with a thick hunk of bread that a triangle of pita bread just can’t compete with.
Moroccan Spicy Eggplant and Tomato Salad
2 large eggplants
4 large tomatoes
1/2 cup of olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of harissa paste*
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground (I used a motar and pestle)
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Put the eggplants on a baking sheet
- Put the whole tomatoes in a casserole dish and cover with 1/4 of olive oil
- Bake both for 30 minutes and then cool on the counter
- When then have cooled (about 45 minutes), halve the eggplant and scoop out the inside and discard the skin. Chop the eggplant into a pulp.
- Peel the tomatoes, discard the seeds and chop into a pulp
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron pan and saute the garlic until it begins to turn colour.
- Add the tomatoes and harissa and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add the eggplant, cilantro and parsley and cook for about 5 minutes until the eggplant is heated through.
- Add the lemon juice, cumin seeds, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with the remaining olive oil drizzled on top and don’t forget the bread!
* You can pick harissa up at a speciality store or follow Ghillie Basan’s simple recipe:
8 dried chilies, seeded and then soaked in warm water for 1 hour
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, ground
4 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Drain the chilies and combine in a food processor with garlic and salt until a thick paste. Mine never got to a thick paste, but c’est la vie.
- Add the cumin, coriander, and olive oil and blend well.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 1 month