Foodiva's Kitchen: September 2012

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and Beetroot Smothered in Moroccan Chermoula Sauce

I am my best work... a series of road maps, reports, recipes,doodles, and prayers from the front lines. 
~Audre Lorde, poet

I made this for lunch recently and really hadn't planned on posting this recipe up on the blog, but sometimes life doesn't always let you have your way. What actually happened was, I had taken some shots of this dish using my iPhone and uploaded a picture onto Instagram just to share what I was eating with the bunch of people there (as one does). The number of inquiries I subsequently received about the recipe got to the point that I decided that well, maybe it was just better to record it on the blog so that everyone who wanted it could easily refer to it here. So here we are, a coincidental blog post!

I must say, I am fascinated by Chermoula sauce, which is typically used as a marinade for fish in Morocco and the North African region, but can also be used as a stuffing or sauce. Its uses are endless, apart from being a marinade, you can also serve it over roasted vegetables like squash, potatoes, chickpeas and like in here, I chose to spoon it over roasted  eggplant and beetroot.

There are a number of variations of Chermoula. Some use only cilantro while others include parsley, while I used both (what the hell, just live a little!). Some use preserved lemon, while others prefer just the fresh juice; then you can use powdered ginger, but I used fresh; and use smoked paprika as opposed to regular paprika. Just feel free to adapt it to your mood and what you have available.

The best thing about Chermoula is that it requires you to do nothing more than put all the ingredients in a mini-food processor and blend them until you reach the desired consistency. Ideally, this should be still a little rough, not fully pureed. It will taste even better if you make it an hour or so in advance to let the flavors develop. The traditional way to blend Chermoula is in a mortar and pestle, apparently the result is incomparably better than anything made in an electrical blending gadget. But I wouldn't know because I was too lazy to work my arm muscles out the day I made this. 

The sauce-smothered vegetables can be served over fluffy cous cous, but I chose to personalize the dish by serving it over shredded iceberg lettuce... and yes, it did make me feel better doing this, thanks for wondering. I added sliced oranges, pumpkin seeds and extra cilantro as garnishes. Just a quickie meal, but satisfaction's guaranteed! :)

Have a fab weekend all!

Roasted Eggplant and Beetroot with Chermoula Sauce
(Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free)
Yields about 3/4 cup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: none!

Chermoula Sauce
1 bunch of cilantro, leaves and tender stems only, well washed
1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon cumin power
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
big pinch of saffron
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon or 1/2 of a preserved lemon, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Vegetable and garnishes
1 medium beetroot, peeled
2 medium sized eggplants
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 orange, peeled and sliced thinly or chunkily
a fistful of cilantro leaves and stem, chopped
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

1. Combine all ingredients in a mini-food processor, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle. Process until a thick, moderately rough sauce is formed. Set aside, covered, for one hour before use.
2. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350F/180C and prepare the vegetables and garnishes. Cut eggplants and beetroot into 1/2 inch thick slices and brush both sides with olive oil. Place on a lined baking sheet and  roast for 20-25 minutes until softened but not dried. remove from oven and set aside.
3. Warm up a skillet over medium heat and carefully toast the roasted vegetables until crisp on the cut sides, about one minute each side. Leave to cool before plating.
4. Stir the Chermoula sauce and spoon or drizzle on top of each vegetable slice. Garnish with orange, cilantro and pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.

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