Menu of the Week: Moroccan Wedding Feast for 110

Chickpea Cutlets, part of a Moroccan wedding dinner (recipe after the jump)

The stars aligned and the weather was perfect for Lee-Anne Early and Russell Bolme’s wedding this past weekend at  the Saratoga Springs Retreat Center in Lake County, California.  The couple chose as the theme for their wedding dinner a Moroccan feast, as Morocco is one of the many countries where they have traveled. Complete menu, along with recipes and more photos after the jump…

MENU FOR LEE-ANNE AND RUSSELL’S  MOROCCAN WEDDING DINNER:

Moroccan Boneless Free Range Chicken Breast (marinated with lemon, onion, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and roasted with green olives and preserved lemon and with a cilantro garnish)

Harissa Sauce**

Chickpea Cutlets with Spicy Tomato Sauce**

Couscous Pilaf w/ Turkish apricots, golden raisins and toasted, slivered almonds**

Tagine of artichoke hearts, roasted cherry tomatoes, saffron potatoes and peas (recipe:here)
Steamed green beans with lemon zest and olive oil

Salad of baby greens with house-made herbal vinaigrette

**RECIPE BELOW

CHICKPEA CUTLETS WITH SPICY TOMATO SAUCE

These cutlets are delicious fried in a generous quantity of olive oil and sauced amply as well.  I used Trader Joe’s Organic Marinara Sauce perked up with harrisa sauce, the traditional spicy Moroccan condiment, but you could use whatever picante salsa you have on hand.

1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 medium carrot, grated

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

olive oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

a sprinkle of umeboshi vinegar or lemon juice

3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (save the liquid)

2 cups soft cooked brown rice

1 tablespoon tahini (optional, but good)

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Heat a little olive in a sauté pan and sauté the onion, carrot and garlic until tender, 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the chickpeas in a food processor, adding in a little of the cooking liquid as needed.  In a large bowl, combine the rice, chopped chickpeas, the sautéed ingredients and all the other ingredients. Mix well, taste and check the seasoning, add more umeboshi vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  To insure that the cutlets will stick together, process half this mixture in your food processor.  Add this back, mix well again and form into six cutlet-shaped patties. Fry on a well-oiled, hot griddle or pan 5-7 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Sauce generously.

HARISSA SAUCE

This is hot, so use in moderation!

8-10 dried red guajillo chiles (often labeled New Mexico chiles, available where Mexican ingredients are sold)

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled

1-2 teaspoons ground cumin and 1-2 teaspoons ground coriander, or to taste

pinch of salt

2/3 cup olive oil or as needed for a smooth sauce consistency

squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten flavor (optional)

Soak peppers in warm water to cover for about an hour.  Drain the peppers, pull off the stem ends, open and remove the seeds.  When the peppers are cleaned, put them along with the remaining ingredients except the olive oil and lemon juice in your food processor.  Process, gradually adding olive oil, until you have a smooth sauce-like consistency.  Taste, and season with salt and lemon juice, if necessary. To store, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top and refrigerate. It should keep several weeks.

COUSCOUS PILAF WITH TURKISH APRICOTS, GOLDEN RAISINS AND TOASTED, SLIVERED ALMONDS

Here’s a festive grain dish that’s remarkably fast and easy to make.  Either regular or whole wheat couscous works well, and you could make a wonderful rice pilaf using the same additional ingredients.  If you can’t find dried Turkish apricots, California apricots will do.  I recommend Turkish apricots because of their sweeter, denser, less astringent flavor.  If you look closely at the photo below, you will see that I used both kinds in the pilaf for Lee-Anne’s and Russell’s wedding! Serves four.

olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and diced

a few strands of saffron (optional)

1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock

a tiny pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous

1/2 cup golden raisins (plumped in a little water, if dry)

1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, thinly sliced

1/2 cup toasted, slivered almonds

Using a thick-bottomed casserole type pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil, sauté the onion 6-7 minutes, adding in the saffron, if used.  When the onion is tender , add the water or stock, a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  When the water boils, add the couscous, stir, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the couscous sit, 7-8 minutes.  Uncover and fluff with a fork, adding a little olive oil or butter if you like, garnish with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Couscous Pilaf with Turkish Apricots, Golden Raisins and Toasted, Slivered Almonds

The wedding day also included a sandwich-salad bar picnic lunch in the meadow. Russell, the groom, is at the far right.

The Heart Lodge, at Saratoga Springs, where most of the indoor events happen.

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