Loco for Morocco

I remember my first meal in Morocco quite clearly, and for good reason. We had just arrived to our hotel in Tangier and were welcomed to a feast of traditional Moroccan dishes. Atop a round serving dish meant for the table was cooked lamb pieces in a savory, spicy sauce that was accented by sweet elements, such as currants, prunes and dried apricots, which soaked up the juices from the meat fat and complementing sauce and became soft, easy to chew and absolutely divine. At the time it seemed bizarre to me – dried fruit and spicy, juicy meat? But it worked. Oh, did it work…

I’m not that big of meat eater these days, but I like to mimic the tastes of that meal by working my palette the same way—savory Moroccan spices + dried fruit. Moroccan carrot salad is the country’s lighter, more body-forgiving version of the dish I enjoyed. It pairs the bang of coriander, cumin and sweet paprika with the sweetness of orange juice, lemon and dried fruit.

Carrots and I have a love/hate relationship. I love carrot juice, baked carrots, carrot fries, carrot chips, steamed carrots, carrots in soup, and, well, basically any cooked carrot. Raw carrots, however, I find too fibrous and tough and annoying to chew and swallow and overall deal with, especially when I’m haaaangry.

However, I recently realized that if I shred carrots to the smallest versions of themselves, then I may – okay, most certainly do – indeed love this vegetable in its raw state.

Even better? The citrus in this dish – lemon and orange – softens the carrots (the acid actually helps break down the tough fibers).

Normally, I would use mint to garnish this salad, but I subbed in some sprouts because that’s what I had on hand! Use mint, though, for the full Moroccan effect Smile.

Moroccan Shredded Carrot Salad

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Ingredients:

– About 4 carrots, shredded

– handful of mint (I used sprouts, which worked well too. Parsley and dill would also work.)

– The juice of one lemon

– The juice of one orange

– 1 tsp cumin

– 1 tsp coriander

– 1/2 tsp sweet paprika

– tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

– About 4 or 5 prunes, de-pitted and chopped

– Dash of salt

Serves 2

 

Directions:

Shred the carrots by hand or with a food processor. I’m old school on this one…

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Put aside in a bowl while you prepare the other ingredients.

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Time to make the sauce. In a separate bowl, begin by squeezing the juice of one lemon and one orange. Watch out for dem seeds!

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I usually squeeze by hand and use the “knife technique” (not that it’s properly called that or anything). I use my knife to twist the inside the lemon and orange to help get all the juices out. Be careful not to go slice through the skin that and nab your palm on the other side.

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After the citrus is set and the seeds are nowhere to be seen in the sauce, add 1 tsp of each the cumin and coriander and 1/2 tsp of the paprika.

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Mix the mixture until all the spices are evenly distributed. Then grab a handful of prunes, chop them up, and add to the mixture. I like them to sit in there for a bit to soak up the juices and become softer.

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Before tossing this with the carrots, put the sprouts (or mint, parsley or dill) in the carrot bowl too!

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Then let it rain like Wayne.

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Toss it all together until the carrots are evenly coated with the sauce.

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And drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some salt atop the finished product. The olive oil really brings the flavors together and give an added Moroccan feel. Don’t skimp!

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Yummiliciousness served:

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This is a great dish to bring to a barbecue or to have on the side at dinner or as a mid-day snack.

 

Bon Apetit!

A hint for next post:

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OoOo LAaA LaAaA…

Guilt-Free Falafel

I am a huge fan of chickpeas. I grew up addicted to hummus (GK version of this recipe to come…), and while I always enjoyed falafel, I wasn’t too gung-ho about the frying, the flour, and the oftentimes used egg. Hence, the birth of my GK version of falafel.

Guilt-Free Baked Falafel

Ingredients:

– 3/4 cup dried chickpeas (2 cups canned chickpeas)
– Water (to soak and then to boil chickpeas)
– 1/2 white onion, diced
– 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
– 2 green onions, peeled and diced
– 1/2 tsp paprika
– 1/2 tsp cumin
– 1/2 tsp coriander
– 1/2 lemon, squeezed
– Salt & pepper to taste
– About 1/4 cut extra virgin olive oil
– About 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
– 1 tbs olive oil to coat baking dish
– 1-2 tsp tahini (sesame oil) to drizzle for presentation
– Parsley for garnish

Directions:

Place dried chickpeas in a bowl, covering with cold water. Allow to soak overnight. Omit this step if using canned beans.
Drain chickpeas, and place in pan with fresh water, and bring to a boil.
After boiling the chick peas, drain the water and transfer them to a food processor.  If you are using canned chickpeas, skip directly to this step.
(Note: canned chickpeas will make the mixture moister than if you soak, boil, and drain them yourself)
Time for the flavor! First the onion.
Parsley time! I love the color contrast that parsley brings to the dish. It also adds a big boost of fresh flavor. Into the bowl goes a big handful of parsley, chopped finely.
2 green onions, diced.
Next come the fixin’s. These boys bring flavor, spice, and the familiar tastes of falafel we’re all used to–paprika,  cumin, coriander, lemon, and salt & pepper (not pictured).
Extra virgin olive oil…
…and Worcestershire sauce! I use Worcestershire sauce in the most random of recipes, but it really makes a difference, and in a good way at that! Just a big ol’  jooooj should do it.
That’s all there is to it!  Now comes the fun part–getting your hands dirty. I started mixing with a spoon, but in order to really get the consistency you want…
…you gotta use those hands! Dip your clean hands in some water first to prevent sticking. Start like this:
Finish with this:
Shape the mixture into 1-2 inch balls.
Coat the bottom of a glass baking dish with olive oil, and place the falafel balls in the dish.
Drizzle with olive oil.
I could eat ’em just like that (and I did…2 to be exact). BUT, they’re better cooked. So pop those babies in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until they look like this:
The tops should be browned, crispy and bite-worthy.
You can crumble this GK version of falafel over salads, eat them in a variety of sandwiches, or have them plain! I love mine drizzled with tahini (sesame oil) and garnished with parsley to accent the flavors of the falafel itself.
Guilt-Free Falafel has the taste of its original counterpart without the excess oil or addition of eggs and flour.
Bon Apetit!
xoxo