End of Summer, Lowkey Moroccan- Inspired Feast

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I call this a lowkey feast because it comes together easily despite being composed of a good number of dishes and the prep work is separated over two days, meaning you don’t have to spend the precious last days of summer in the kitchen. What is all that beautiful food, you’re wondering??

Grilled Butternut Squash topped with Almonds & a Mint/Ginger Yogurt Sauce

Grilled Eggplant & Harissa Pizza

Harira Soup with Lentils

Grilled Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Kale and  Herbs

Grilled Couscous & Chickpea Tagine Stuffed Bell Peppers

It’d be perfect for a dinner party or just impressing someone you care about (and, the best part, then having leftovers all week). Leaves you plenty of time to play I spy with my little eye an eggplant..

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The first day you prepare the pizza dough, sauces, soup and squash. The second day you grill everything. This is a complex and well-rounded meal, made up of 5 dishes/8 recipes and serves 6 happy people very well, yet it comes together in about 2 hours. It doesn’t get better than this.

 

DAY 1 – soup, pizza crust, sauces, squash

Day 2 – tagine stuffed peppers, grill, serve and eat. Then talk about how good it all was the rest of the night.

At the bottom of the post I wrote out an order of operations for the grill

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We’ll start with the soup, because traditionally that’s what a Moroccan meal begins with. This is harira soup which is typically served when breaking the fast during Ramadan, but it’s also served throughout the year. Its flavors are even better the second day, perfect for our method of splitting the prep work over two days. It’s hearty, spice-filled and I know I’ll be able to count on it to warm me up once the temperature starts dropping. Not only does this soup make your tongue and stomach equally happy, it’s also inexpensive, vegan and waste-free; everything you can easily find in the bulk section of any good grocery store.

Next, the pizza crust. If you wanted to, you could do this up to 4 days early and it would keep getting better each day, but the crust develops a much better flavor after being aged even one day. My two previous posts with all the info on pizza crust are: Artichoke Heart Pesto Pizza and Breakfast Pizza. Once you’re done kneading it, put it in a large container with a tight fitting lid and store it in the fridge over night.

Now onto the sauces..

A chermoula is generally used as a marinade, but my version with more herbs/less oil has the consistency of a thicker sauce. If you had to leave out any part of this meal, this is probably the obvious choice, but I really love it and find it invaluable. Creating new flavors by adding a little dollop of it here and there makes the whole meal much more interesting and, to your tongue, doubles the amount of dishes served. Make extra as it stores well and is amazing on…everything (especially roasted potatoes). I made mine with parsley, cilantro and tulsi (holy basil) but any variety of herbs will work (dill, mint, basil or marjoram would work especially well). It’s a shame tulsi isn’t more popular here in America as it’s one of the best medicinal herbs there is. It’s as versatile as it is delicious, so it’s no surprise that nearly every house in India has a tulsi plant. I grow it in a big pot on the front porch and it is far and away the most fragrant plant in the garden.

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It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to make double the amount of the yogurt sauce while you’re at it, too. It’s good on everything and impossible to stop eating. You’ll always be happy as long as you have a tupperware of this in the fridge. I was sad to use up the last of the preserved lemons I made all the way back in February but they died a most honorable death. In this meal, it’s used to top grilled butternut squash and, together, is one of my favorite things I’ve eaten all summer. So, so good. The squash melts in your mouth and holds the spices amazingly.

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This harissa pizza is insane, it’s truly ridiculous how good it is and I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to think of using it as a pizza sauce considering it contains nearly all the same ingredients; the familiar cast of characters in a pizza sauce are all there: garlic, tomatoes, red chiles, olive oil, red wine vinegar, fennel..plus new ones like allspice, coriander, nutmeg and lemon zest. Just believe me when I say it’s unbelievable. Harissa is a popular condiment/chile paste in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine and can be found at plenty of grocery stores in America, but I’ve always made it myself. For this application, I added a couple of fresh tomatoes to make the consistency more like a sauce and less like a paste.

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You’ve reached the last of the prep work for day one! All that’s left is to peel, chop and season the butternut squash (save the seeds to top the salad.. rinse all the squash-guts off, then boil for 2 mins, drain and dry. Lightly oil them and roast at 425 for 5 mins). Look at all the pretty spices =^.^= After tossing it, I cover it in a little pouch made out of tinfoil and store it in the fridge, that way it’s ready to throw on the grill tomorrow night.


At the star of prepping on day two, take the pizza dough out of the fridge so it warms up a bit before being rolled out. Next get started on the filling for the stuffed peppers (which is a play on a traditional tagine). A tagine is a dish named after the pot in which it’s cooked and often starts a Moroccan meal, following the soup and/or salad. This is another vegan and easily packaging/waste free dish.

Next is the herbaceous grilled cauliflower/brussels sprouts salad. It has no formal dressing as the olive oil brushed onto the vegetables before grilling is enough to, uh, wet it up, and just a few squeezes of a lemon, tons of herbs and spices takes care of the rest. Blanching the brussels sprouts makes them much easier to get onto the skewer. This method of cutting/grilling cauliflower is known as ‘cauliflower steaks’ and a great way to consume one of my favorite vegetables.

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Next roll out the pizza. Grilling pizza can be a bit tricky, so I add more flour than usual while rolling it/use a generally less hydrated crust so it’s easier to work with. Have a good idea of how big your grill is when rolling it out, as you’ll be occupying space with the squash. The smaller the pizza, the easier it’ll be to maneuver on/off the grill too. I liberally olive-oil up a piece of tin foil and slide the pizza dough onto it (way easier than oiling the grill well enough to prevent the dough from sticking). You first grill the dough with no toppings, then flip it after about 4 minutes and then top it. The bottom can get too black very quickly without watching, so be sure to rotate it frequently. I put everything needed for topping the pizza right next to the grill so I can top it quickly.

 

Day 1 recipes:

Harira Soup with Lentils

6 large servings

ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, diced

2 tbsp dried ginger

1 tbsp + turmeric (to taste, I added nearly 2 tbsp to mine)

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp coriander

4 cups diced tomato (if not in season, canned is preferred)

1/4 cup lovage leaves (or celery)

salt + pepper

2 cups dried lentils of choice (I used a combination of green and brown)

10 cups vegetable stock (or water)

1 cup chickpeas, cooked

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions. Cook for 8 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and spices, tossing to evenly coat. Cook for 1 minute or so until adding the tomatoes and lovage leaves. Add the lentils and broth, bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour. Add the chickpeas ~10 minutes before serving.

Chermoula

makes 1 cup

ingredients

2 cups cilantro (leaves and stems)

1 cup parsley (leaves and stems)

1 cup herb of choice (I used tulsi, but dill, mint, basil, marjoram would all work beautifully)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

juice of one pretty-damn-juicy lemon

1/4 cup olive oil (poured slowly while blending until desired consistency is reached)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Serve at room-temperature. For storage, make sure all the herbs are under a layer of olive oil, add more oil if necessary.

 

Yogurt Sauce

makes 1 3/4 cup

1/3 cup peeled and diced cucumber

1 preserved lemon (peel, pulp and all), diced (recipe found here Sunday Quick Post: Birthday Breakfast Charcuterie Board)

1.5 cups greek yogurt

1″ knob of ginger, peeled and diced (about 2 tbsp)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small tupperware, stirring until thoroughly combined. Put on a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator.

Harissa Pizza Sauce –

You can find my harissa recipe here: Sunday Quick Post: Birthday Breakfast Charcuterie Board and add 1 large very ripe tomato while blending so that it is a lighter consistency.

Grilled Butternut Squash

serves 6

1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1″ chunks

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp coriander pods, crushed

splash of olive oil

salt and pepper

4 tbsp roasted/salted almonds, chopped

1/4-1/3 cup yogurt sauce

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to evenly coat. Store in a lidded tupperware overnight in the fridge. Cover in aluminum foil, making a pouch, and grill for 30 minutes over medium-high heat, flipping once at 15 minutes. Garnish with the chopped almonds and yogurt sauce.

Day 2 recipes-

Grilled Tangine Stuffed Bell Peppers

Serves 6 with leftover filling which makes a great cold salad

ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

5 large cloves of garlic, diced

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 cup chopped parlsey (leaves and stems)

1 cup vegetable broth or water

2 cups israeli couscous

1 cup cooked chickpeas

3 bell peppers

In a medium pot with a tight fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomato, parsley, couscous, broth and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes or until fluffy. Drain off any excess liquid if needed.

Cut the bell peppers in half, lengthwise and stuff with filling. Grill on medium/high heat for 10 minutes, turning the pepper occasionally.

Grilled Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Kale and  Herbs

(serves 6)

ingredients

15-18 large brussels sprouts, blanched and put onto skewers

1 head of cauliflower

olive oil

paprika, salt and pepper

 4-5 cups of kale, stems removed and chopped

1/4 cup chopped fennel sprigs  (just the tops, not the stems)

1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves and stems

1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems

1 large/particularly juicy lemon

seeds from 1 butternut squash, roasted

Cut the stem of the cauliflower off until it rests flat on a table. Cut from the top down, starting at the edge, into 3 or 4 inch thick pieces leaving as much of it intact as possible (you want it to be flat, sturdy and completely connected). Brush the brussels sprouts and cauliflower steaks with olive oil, then lightly cover with a sprinkling of salt, pepper and paprika. In a medium sized bowl, toss the kale and herbs in lemon juice. Grill the brussels sprouts and cauliflower for 10 minutes or until cooked through, over medium/high heat, flipping each occasionally. Remove from the grill and let them cool, then cut the florest off the cauliflower and cut the brussels sprouts in half. Add to the bowl of greens and toss, then garnish with the butternut squash seeds.

Grilled Eggplant and Harissa Pizza

ingredients

pizza dough (recipe found on my post here: Breakfast Pizza), rolled out with extra flour so it’s sturdy

1/4 cup harissa

~1/2 cup mozzarella

~1/4 cup parmesan

-1 tsp caraway seeds

-a few sprigs of fennel

-2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

– 5 slices/’coins’ of eggplant

1/4 of a small onion, cut into slices

Liberally salt the eggplant and place in a strainer to drain some of the water. After ~10 minutes, pat the eggplant dry. Grill the slices over medium/high heat for ~5 minutes, remove when lightly browned and dry, set aside. With the grill still on medium/high, brush a large portion of tin foil with olive oil and place it on the grill, then slide the pizza onto the tin foil. Grill for ~4-5 minutes or until the bottom is quite browned. Brush the top of the crust with olive oil, then flip it. Top the pizza, brushing on the harissa in a thin layer, sprinkling on the cheese, caraway seeds, the grilled eggplant then the herbs. Grill for another 4-5 minutes, rotating frequently, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is browned/crispy.

Order of operations-

Heat to medium/high

Set a 5 minute timer and add the butternut squash.

When the timer goes off, set a  10 minute timer.  Flip the squash. Add the cauliflower steaks and brussels sprout kabobs.

When the timer goes off, remove the cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Add the eggplant and stuffed peppers. Put on a 5 minute timer.

Start heating up the soup on the stove, then assemble the grilled vegetable salad.

When the timer goes off, remove the eggplant, setting it nearby to assemble pizza shortly.

Add the pizza crust to the oiled tin foil. Put on another 4 minute timer.

When the timer goes off, oil the top of the pizza dough, then flip it. Top the pizza with cheese, eggplant, onion, spices and herbs. Remove the butternut squash from the grill, then put on another 4 minute timer.

Pour the butternut squash onto a large plate, garnish with almonds and the yogurt sauce.

Rotate the pizza frequently and remove it whenever the cheese is completely melted. Remove the stuffed peppers from the grill.

Pour the warm soup into bowls and, there you have it. Everything should be ready to eat.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Patricia Sprague says:

    Beautiful presentation! Someone needs to hire you as a food artist!

    Liked by 1 person

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