I am happy to announce that it appears the flu bug that swept our house has retreated, but has been replaced by a sniffly little cold bug. My boys are both sniffly little creatures and I too have not been spared. Luckily the husband is doing better – probably because he’s out of the house most days! I managed to make a chicken tajine last night albeit a bit heavy on garlic (I admit that did help to clear out my sinuses though!)

I am thinking to spend the next few posts focusing on Moroccan salads – of which there are many. I wish I could say that I ALWAYS make these but more often than not I’m lucky get the main dish on the table and whip together a little green salad for the side. These are easy enough to make a few ahead of time. This one specifically will keep in the fridge for several days. (My mother in law would be aghast at the prospect of that!) Typically a meal is started with several small plates of salads, a mezze of salads for those familiar with Middle Eastern tables. Taktouka is a very popular and traditional salad that often can be seen accompanying a main dish of chicken. I am sure that there are salads that go with specific meat dishes, however I have not spent enough time analyzing the specifics of this although it is something I’d love to do.
These salads always alluded me at first. Mostly because they were served cool, and for several they just didn’t seem like they would be all that good cold. I must admit I still think that for many of them, they would be better served warm but maybe that’s just personal preference.

• 4 tomatoes – skins removed and chopped up
• 2 large green peppers (roasted – will describe in directions)
• 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
• 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 tablespoon paprika
• 2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 tsp tumeric
• ⅓ cup olive oil

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To Roast Green Peppers:
Traditionally these are roasted over an open gas flame until the outside is completely black. My mother in law then tosses them into a plastic bag that is sealed until the steam inside loosens the skins and it can easily be pulled away from the flesh. On gas stoves in the US this works great. and this is how I generally roast these peppers. You could also do them under the broiler of an oven on a cookie sheet but make sure to watch carefully and turn them often so that they do not catch on fire.

To Remove Tomato Skin: 

If you are good at peeling these with a paring knife go ahead, unfortunately I am not so good. Instead place a pot of water on high until boiling and score each tomato with an X. Once water is boiling put the tomatoes in and cook for 2-3 minutes. The skins will become loose and peel right off.

Once the skin of the vegetables is removed, chop both the tomatoes and peppers into small pieces. In a large pan pour 2/3 of the olive oil and bring to medium heat. Saute the garlic for 1-2 minutes and then add the green peppers and tomatoes. Begin to saute and add the spices. Continue to cook on medium high stirring occassionally until the the tomatoes are very soft and can easily be mashed. This may take less time depending on whether or not the tomatoes were soft from removing the skins. Mash the tomatoes with a fork or spoon and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced. If it becomes too dry add the leftover oil.

This can be served warm or cold – but more often than not is served lukewarm to cold. It is eaten by scooping up the salad with a good crusty bread. Also this can easily be doubled or tripled depending on the number of guests you have or if you plan to reserve some for later.