Monday, 21 February 2011

Moroccan salads with chargrilled (or roasted) green peppers and tomatoes

While I was living in Dubai, I had an electric stove; I was living in a flat without balcony,  option to char-grill peppers was out of scope. So I ended up buying bottled char-grilled peppers coming from Tunisia, and it turned up to be a good alternative although they were having an after taste of bitterness.

Roasted green peppers and tomatoes with preserved lemon
The chargrilled peppers (or roasted in case you really can't) are used in a handful of cooked Moroccan salads. You will see that some of these versions can be perfectly considered as dips with some toasted bread or crackers.

Taktouka (chargrilled peppers cooked with tomato sauce) is one of these versions where roasted peppers and tomatoes are cooked and served warm or cold. Its cousin would be Hmiss in Algeria and Slata mechouiya in Tunisian Cuisine..

The trick in theses salad is how to char-grill the peppers and clean them. Well the best way is to do that on a gas fire or on a charcoal BBQ. You keep turning them until all sides of the vegetable are literally “black-burnt” looking. Pop them straight away in a ziplog plastic bag because this steaming process that will happen in the bag with help you pulling out the skin easily.

Here are few versions of the Taktouka (salad with tomatoes and char-grilled peppers):

  • Char-grilled peppers with raw tomatoes, cooked at a later stage  OR Taktouka
  • Char-grilled peppers and roasted tomatoes (same process: roast the tomatoes, seed and dice)
  • Char-grilled pepper and tomatoes (raw or roasted) but no cooking at a later stage.

Twice-cooked char-grilled peppers with tomatoes (raw or roasted)


Ingredients
For 4 persons.
Prep: 20 min/ Cooking: 0 – 20 min

- 500g or more of good ripe fresh tomatoes (peeled, seeded and diced)
- 3 to 4 large long green peppercorn roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped)
- 2 to 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 5 tbps of chopped parsley and coriander (more coriander than parsley)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp of paprika
- 1 tsp of cumin
- 4 tbsps of good extra virgin olive oil
- Moroccan preserved lemon (skin only)

The same salad with a finer texture. a matter of choice

Put all ingredients in a pan and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally. Cook for about 10 minutes until tomatoes are cooked thru. Roughly smash the tomatoes.


Add in the pepper (see below how to), the cumin and the herbs finely chopped and let simmer for another 10 minutes until you get a thick sauce. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with preserved lemon skin (diced).


How to handle peppers: Roast the peppers on gas fire or a BBQ (charcoal version). Keep them in a plastic bag (preferably with a zip to prevent the heat from coming out). Peel them with your hands or with a knife. You might need to wash your hands and pass it through the peppers but never wash the pepper directly; they will just lose their taste. (See post in french for more pictures of roast peppers).


Then seed them and chop them into 1 cm squares or so. Keep aside.

NB: you might consider adding red peppers; they enhance the taste and give a wonderful colour.


Char-grilled peppers with tomatoes (raw or roasted)

The same previous recipe remains valid except that we do need less paprika; we add a hint of garlic, and definitely less herbs or not at all (I usually add 1 tablespoon only).The cooking stage is no more needed. 1 tablespoon or 2 of finely chopped onions would be nice to mix with the rest of the ingredients but that is actually not a standard, it’s just a preference.

Finally, add in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon.

This version can be made few hours before serving, just leave the spices and vinegar on the top of the vegetables and cover. Stir all ingredients until last moment.

In any case, use good tasty tomatoes and good 1st draft extra virgin olive oil! You could also add some capers to this salad, the way people from Safi do.

Enjoy your salads at room temperature or cold!





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