My friend Mark is a homecook like me but he loves to make complicated Moroccan food. The dishes that are thirteen thousand ingredients and counting. I do not. I want my food and cooking. It’s not that I don’t think that dishes with a lot of ingredients aren’t tasty; on the contrary, I find them delicious. I just like making things that are unfettered. Personally, I just want to taste 4 or 5 ingredients. Good quality ingredients with a simple preparation; very much like Alice Waters.
Mark recently asked me to help him cook a Moroccan dinner which was a thoughtful gift that he gave to a recently married couple. I was honored that he would ask for my help and since it had grown into a party of 10, he needed it. As part of the menu, he already planned two tagines: one lamb and one chicken, a fish b’stilla (the savory pie), cous-cous and roasted vegetables along with several appetizers. The one thing that the host specifically wanted was a series of Moroccan salads.
Mark, Mary (another homecook friend also asked by Mark to assist him) and I sat down to look at recipes that would be easy and complementary to his tagines featuring figs, dried apricots, preserved lemons and exotic Middle Eastern spices such as zatar and sumac. We started to look through several including a couple from Paula Wolfert.
Since, Mark was already making several tagines from Paula and another cookbook, I scanned “Morocco” by Jeff Koehler. One of the first that popped out was a Moroccan Cabbage Salad with Olive Oil, Lemon and Garlic. With a quick look at the recipe, I knew this was a keeper. It’s delicious with freshly ground Himalayan pink salt for finishing. (This is my adaptation of it.). I also knew that I wanted to make it.
What you need:
One head of Cabbage
5 Garlic cloves
1/2 cup of oil
Let’s make this puppy:
1. Wash and slice the cabbage about a 1/4 inch thick into a large bowl for tossing. Don’t slice it too thin. (For color, you can add a little red cabbage.).
2. In a smaller bowl, press the garlic cloves and extract all the liquid. Throw the pulp into the bowl too.
3. Squeeze the juice out of lemons (removing all the seeds) into the same bowl. Add the olive oil and whisk.
4. Depending on when you serve this salad and how “cooked” you want the it to be, is when you should mix dress the salad. If you let the cabbage sit in the liquid too long, it will get less crunchy. So, I like to dress it about 20 minutes ahead of time, set aside and then serve with a finishing salt and parsley.