Just finished my last class of the season, on mezze, and even though Morocco doesn’t have a tradition of mezze as such, there is a whole range of Moroccan salads (salades variées) that fit perfectly into a mezze spread. Here is one of them, made by mixing grilled peppers, preserved lemons and a little parsley with a chunky tomato sauce. A perfect snack or mezze dish for a warm summer day. That is, if we get warm summer days. Am still waiting and it’s nearly August,
Start by making the tomato sauce: drain two cans of cherry tomatoes and put in a wide sauté pan. Add 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 tsp red chili flakes and place over medium high heat. Let bubble until most of the excess liquid has evaporated.
While the sauce is cooking, grill the peppers. This should take more or less the same time if you place them very close to the heat making sure you don’t burn them beyond the skin. Once done, peel the peppers. Then take out the seeds and cut into long strips.
Add the peppers to the sauce. Chop a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley and add to the sauce. Then take 4 tiny preserved lemons (known as doqq lemons), remove the pith and cut the peel into strips. Add to the sauce.
Mix well, and let bubble for a few minutes to get rid of any excess liquid. Season with salt to taste.
Take off the heat. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth and let cool. Then transfer to a serving dish and serve. You can, if you want, sprinkle a little chopped parsley all over to lift the salad.
Here is the full recipe:
Moroccan Grilled Pepper Salad
4 yellow bell peppers
3 x 400 g cans cherry tomatoes, drained
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic crushed
scant 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 preserved lemon, peel only, cut into strips
50 g flat-leaf parsley most of the bottom stalks discarded, finely chopped
1. Grill the peppers for 25-30 minutes, turning them over to expose all sides, until the skin is charred and blistered and the flesh soft. Let cool a little, then peel the peppers and discard the seeds and core. Cut into medium thin strips.
2. Combine the olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, chillies and paprika in a large frying pan. Add salt to taste and cook over a medium-high heat for 15-20 minute, stirring occasionally, until all excess liquid has evaporated and the sauce is thick, fresh and chunky.
3. Add the peppers, preserved lemon and parsley to the tomato sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 5-10 minutes, until the sauce is very concentrated. Serve at room temperature.
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