Category Archives: Vegetarian

Going Meatless?

Bitter Orange Salad/Salad d’Oranges Amères

In answer to the e-Newsletter I sent out at the beginning of February, I received this lovely letter from  Danielle Avidan, a follower of this website. She was kind enough to contribute this recipe.

She writes: “My grandmother used a heavy earthenware container, but it can be prepared in an ordinary salad bowl, even a terrine (ça se garde très bien au refrigerateur!)"

 Bitter oranges appetizer

 3 large bitter oranges (Seville oranges) or 4 medium ones

About 10 to 2 black olives, preferably the ‘wrinkled’ ones from Morocco that can be found in Persian markets;

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/2 tsp paprika, or more if you like;

1/4 tsp cumin;

1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional);

3 (or 4) T Canola or grapeseed oil (do not to substitute olive oil!)

Salt and white pepper to taste.

Pit olives. Peel oranges, and cut in small cubes. Remove seeds. Thoroughly mix all ingredients in an earthenware bowl or ordinary salad bowl. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. Adjust seasonings before serving at room temperature.

Note: The longer you keep it the better it tastes! This can accompany any meat, chicken or fish dish, as a first course, or can be served with other ‘salads’ such as beet, eggplant, carrot etc..

Merci Danielle!

 Tita, my own great-aunt and culinary mentor, often prepared a similar salad with the bitter, Seville oranges that we picked in Marrakech. My own version contains Valencia or Navels, dried Kalamata olives, and chopped red onion or diced fennel, depending upon the availability or the inspiration!


Bay Area Impressions


I wanted to share the interesting experience I had on my way to the airport for my Bay Area appearances at Le Creuset stores, last Saturday at 5:45 AM—my shuttle was a no-show. Panicked, I called the company several times: they did finally send a driver 45 minutes later, and I made my flight. However, and FYI everyone, I learned from my driver that reservations agents often confuse AM with PM. So be sure to RECONFIRM your shuttle a few days beforehand. I learned my lesson!

During my “cooking and signing tour” for Le Creuset in their Walnut Creek, Vacaville, and Gilroy, I had the pleasure of making new friends, and of visiting with Moroccan cuisine aficionados, some of whom had driven two hours to attend the demonstration. Here is the Moroccan style ratatouille laced with preserved lemon and flavored with cumin, I prepared. This will taste even better if you make it a day ahead.

Zahlouk: Serves 6

1 globe eggplant, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes

Salt for sprinkling

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow zucchini, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes

3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cubed (or 1 cup canned, organic diced tomatoes)

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 ¼ teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons diced preserved lemon rind (check out my preserved lemon page)

Sprinkle eggplant lightly with salt and allow to sweat for 20 to 30 minutes on paper towels. Rinse under running water. Pat dry. In a heavy, non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and zucchini. Cook, stirring, until vegetables turn soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer vegetables to a colander set over a bowl to drain. Set aside.  To the same pan, add bell pepper. Cook, stirring, 5 to 6 minutes, until soft. Add to the eggplant. Set aside. To the same pan, add a little of the drained oil from the vegetables, if necessary. Add garlic and tomatoes. Stir in black pepper, cumin, and preserved lemon. Cook, stirring until tomatoes thicken somewhat, 5 to 6 minutes. Return drained vegetables to the pan. Heat through, and adjust seasonings. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature for best flavor. 


Those who live near Walnut Creek, CA, MUST go and take a look at the new, flagship Le Creuset store downtown. It is absolutely stunning. I felt as though I had just stepped into a smaller version of the Museum of Modern Art. Backlit glass shelves hold the latest Le Creuset cookware, including a tagine pot in striking Caribbean blue (aqua) that is almost too beautiful to cook in. There is also a small demonstration area where visiting chefs/authors can show off their skills. Be sure and get on the store’s mailing list so you know who is coming there next!

 In San Francisco, where I spent the night with friends, I was fortunate to be taken to The Slanted Door (, a highly regarded and very trendy Vietnamese restaurant at the Ferry Building, overlooking San Francisco Bay. There, I sampled what is possibly the BEST Vietnamese food I have ever eaten, including MEMORABLE prawns with caramelized onions, and a feather light Vietnamese omelet stuffed with crab.

I grew up on Vietnamese food in Casablanca (a number of French-speaking Vietnamese emigrated to Morocco after the War of Indochina.) We locals mistakenly lumped all Asian-style restaurants under the “resto chinois” label. It wasn’t until I came to the US and tasted Cantonese food, that I realized that the “Chinese dishes” I ate in Morocco were actually Vietnamese (I will travel miles for a good “nem”, fried V-N eggroll (also called cha-gio) wrapped in fresh lettuce, mint, and cilantro leaves!) Strangely enough, this North African-Asian cross-cultural exchange now extends to the Moroccan kitchen itself. Cuisinieres all over the country have taken to using maifun (chinese bean threads or rice noodles) instead of rice or couscous (the national staple) seasoned a la marocaine, as a stuffing, or as a filling for a seafood bestila (savory phyllo pastry). So don’t be surprised to see packages of maifun stacked up on tarps lining the ground at a country souk! 

Bismillah, and Bon Appetit,



Couscous with Seasonal Vegetables

Serves 6

A vegetarian version of the Moroccan national dish. Meat eaters will add lamb, beef, or chicken. Use any seasonal vegetable or root vegetables. In Casablanca, Couscous Beidaoui includes at least seven different kinds.

1  1/3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 threads Spanish saffron, crushed
1 cup couscous
1/2 cup frozen baby lima beans
1 small onion, finely diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium green zucchini, peeled an diced
1 medium yellow zucchini, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and the saffron to a boil. Add the couscous and the lima beans. Stir once. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until couscous is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. (Couscous should yield about 3 cups.)

In a medium skillet over medium high, heat the remaining olive oil. Cook the onion, carrot and garlic, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables. Cook, stirring, until zucchini is crisp tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, mound the couscous on a platter, and top with the vegetables.

copyright Kitty Morse 2008.

Carrots with paprika and Capers

Serves 6

This is only one of the wide assortment of salads–think of them as Moroccan-style tapas-that open up a  meal. Like most Moroccan salads, this is best prepared a day ahead, and served at room temperature.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 cup finely diced green onion
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into slices 1/8-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons drained capers
1/2 teaspoon salt
Minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

In a medium skillet, stir oil and paprika over medium-high heat until paprika begins to foam. Add onion. Cook, stirring, until soft. Add carrots, garlic, and water. Cover and cook over medium-low until carrots are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add vinegar, capers, and salt. Cook, uncovered, until carrots are lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

From The Vegetarian Table: North Africa. Updated and copyrighted Kitty Morse 2008

Garbanzo Bean and Squash Soup

Serves 4

This nutritious soup is full of healthful ingredients.  Cooks in Morocco can purchase soaked  beans at the market or from street vendors, then must cook the beans before using them. You can do the same if you purchase dry beans. I opt for the convenience of organic, canned garbanzos. Any winter squash, or yellow fleshed squash will do.

1 pound Mediterranean, butternut, or acorn squash, or sugar pumpkin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3 cups vegetable broth
One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans,  drained and  liquid reserved
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Cilantro leaves (also called Chinese parsley or fresh coriander), for serving

Heat oven to 375 F. Place squash in oven-proof dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool, then peel and seed squash, and scoop pulp from the shell in small chunks. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool.

In a blender or food processor, puree in batches, the squash, onion, broth, reserved liquid from garbanzo beans, and half of garbanzo beans. Return puree to pan. Stir in tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Add cayenne, if using. Heat through and add remaining garbanzo beans. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

From The Vegetarian Table: North Africa. Updated and copyrighted Kitty Morse 2008