By Danielle Del Vicario
Still not sure where to start for your first dinner party? Follow the Moroccan menu and tips below. I’ve included timings to help ensure your party runs as smoothly as possible.
Starter: Moroccan-Style Roasted Tomato and Cucumber Salad, served with Hummus and Pita Bread (30 minutes and nine hours to soak chickpeas both to do in advance)
This salad tastes better if it has time to rest, so doing it advance will actually work doubly in your favour. Serve it with hummus and pita bread as a starter or alongside the tagine (recipe follows). If you are truly aiming to impress, I’ve also included a recipe for homemade hummus. Five minutes before serving, brush your pita bread with olive oil and sprinkle with ground cumin then toast for three to four minutes in a 400 F oven.
2 cups of halved cherry tomatoes
splash of olive oil, plus 3 tbsp for dressing
1 cucumber, chopped
¼ cup chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
2 tbsp mint, choppd
juice from 1 lemon
salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Place halved cherry tomatoes on parchment-lined baking sheet and toss with a splash of olive oil.
- Roast tomatoes for 15 minutes, or until skins are shriveled and just starting to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Once tomatoes have cooled, combine all ingredients in large bowl.
1 cup dried chickpeas
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini (Two spoonfuls or so—no need to measure precisely!)
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated as fine as possible
- In large bowl, combine chickpeas with one teaspoon of the baking soda and cover with two inches of water. Let soak for eight to twelve hours.
- Drain chickpeas and transfer to medium saucepan. Cover with two inches of water and simmer with lid on for one to one and half hours, or until chickpeas are mushy and falling apart. Drain and rinse chickpeas before making hummus.
- Process chickpeas in large food processor for two minutes or until smooth and almost fluffy.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well mixed.
- Taste and add more salt if needed.
Main: Simple Chickpea Tagine with Spiced Chicken and Lemon Couscous (one hour to do in advance and twenty minutes for the chicken and fifteen for the couscous both to do before serving)
This tagine is deceptively easy to make. The chicken is an unnecessary addition, but if you feel your meal needs that something extra, it’s an easy way to accommodate vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. While your tagine is simmering, preheat the oven and prep the chicken with the rub. Fifteen minutes before you want to eat, pop the chicken in the oven and prepare your couscous.
1 tablespoon paprika
1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon
1 ½ tsp each oregano, cumin, coriander
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into one-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1 ½ cups water
1 low-sodium vegetable stock cube
1 can chickpeas
- Combine all spices in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Toast for two minutes to bring out flavours, shaking or stirring regularly to prevent burning.
- Add olive oil and onion and cook until onion turns translucent.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until vegetables are fully cooked. Stir regularly to prevent burning, adding water if it gets too thick.
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon each cumin, coriander
½ tablespoon each cinnamon, garlic powder, chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven 375 F.
- Cut each chicken breast into three pieces.
- Place chicken pieces in between two layers of parchment paper, on top of a cutting board. Using a rolling pin (or an empty wine bottle), hammer the chicken until it is approximately one centimetre thick.
- Combine all other ingredients to make rub and transfer to plate.
- Rub spice mixture into each piece of chicken, making sure that both sides are fully coated.
- Bake chicken on parchment-lined baking pan for 10 minutes or until juices run clear when cut.
2/3 cup uncooked couscous
¼ tsp salt
rind from 1 lemon
1 tsp dried oregano
½ cup of dried fruits (i.e. raisins, dates, apricots)
1 cup boiling water
- Place all ingredients except water in large bowl or saucepan.
- Pour water over top, cover, and let stand until water is fully absorbed, about seven minutes.
- Fluff with fork before serving.
Dessert: Apple Streusel Cake with Chai-Infused Cream (one hour to do in advance)
This cake is deliciously moist and the apple pairs well with the chai cream. Don’t forget to serve tea and coffee with dessert!
½ cup oats
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cups oats
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Combine oats and milk in medium bowl. Set aside for five minutes.
- In large mixing bowl, combine melted butter and sugar. Add eggs and oat mixture, and mix again.
- In separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- Add flour mixture to oat mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in chopped apples, being careful not to overmix. Don’t worry if your batter looks a bit thick–this is totally normal! Transfer to a greased 9×9 cake pan and set aside while you make the streusel topping.
- For topping, combine all ingredients until nice and crumbly. Spread more or less evenly on top of cake.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and the middle is fairly firm to touch. Serve warm or cold, with chai-infused cream.
1 cup whipping cream
4 chai tea bags
2 tbsp honey or to taste
- Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan and gently heat on stove, being careful not to let the cream boil.
- Once cream is hot to touch, remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour.
- Remove tea bags and, if a skin has formed on top of the cream, use a spoon to gently scrape it off. Store in fridge until ready to eat.