Moroccan around the Christmas Tree
at the Christy party house.
Pour some spicy sauce over couscous grains
and you’ll please even a mouse.
Tangy yet sweet, it can’t be beat
for the flavor or the smell.
So pair it with a Moroccan wine
and let the party jell.
It’s less than a week until Christmas and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, except for the procrastinators (myself included) that are panicking about last minute gifts, party menus, and how they can delude their guests into thinking they are the “hostess with the mostess.” I’ve got a solution that will work for those looking for a great meal to entertain guests, a homemade gift to show someone you care (but are unable or unwilling to spend a bundle), or a book for the foodie in your life. Look no further than Anabel Langbein’s cookbook “The Free Range Cook – Simple Pleasures.”
This book is filled with tantalizing global recipes that will make anyone’s taste-buds stand up and take notice. The recipes are user friendly with readily accessible ingredients. My copy is flagged with so many post-its that I could cook for a month and not repeat a recipe. I recently made Anabel’s Moroccan Tomato Sauce and it was phenomenal. It’s tangy, sweet, acidic, and spicy with a great depth of flavors that burst forth seriatim like a starburst firework. Serve it with Moroccan Meatballs over couscous and you have a festive holiday meal.
I paired the Moroccan Tomato Sauce with a bottle of 2012 Ouled Thaleb Moroccan Red Blend purchased at K & L Wines for $13.99 a bottle. The wine is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Grenache, aged for 10 months in French Oak, and has a 13% ABV. This wine originates from the region 10 miles from Casablanca and has 2,500 years of winemaking history. The tannins are smooth with notes of eucalyptus, sage, plum, and cherry. While somewhat austere in the European (old world) style, it has plenty of fruit to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
I gifted several bottles of the Moroccan Tomato Sauce and received rave reviews back from the beneficiaries with comments like “you should bottle and sell this sauce,” “best sauce ever – will you share the recipe?,” and “when are you making more – put us on the list for a jar.” Minimal effort, maximum results! So make a batch for your family and friends or bring as a hostess gift. Pair it with a copy of Anabel’s book if you think the recipient worthy or are trying to garner some Christmas gratitude from you boss. If gifting for a true loved one, add a bottle of of Moroccan wine to make them think you are Santa incarnate.
Give this recipe a try and start Moroccan around your Christmas tree this year!
- 3-4 red chilies to taste
- 5 oz fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into chunks
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- 2 onions coarsely chopped
- 2 red bell peppers chopped
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 – 28 oz cans tomatoes in juice
- 2 cups tomato juice
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup soft brown sugar
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon fine black pepper
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup torn or chopped cilantro leaves
- Roughly chop chilies and place in a food processor with ginger, garlic, onions, bell peppers and oil and pulse to a coarse paste.
- Transfer to a very large pot or preserving pan. Add cumin and fennel seeds and cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, for about 30 minutes until softened, smelling aromatic and starting to thicken. Add the tomatoes, tomato juice, vinegar, sugar, lemon zest, pepper, salt, and cilantro. Cook uncovered, over a low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent catching, until it is a thick spoonable consistency (approximately 2 hours).
- Sauce can be stored in jars in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks and also freezes well.