Moroccan Baked Fish with Onions, Olives and Preserved Lemon

 

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

We made an extra-gigantic batch of preserved lemons this year, so I’ve been on the hunt for recipes.  A friend pointed out this NY Times recipe a while back, and I’ve been meaning to make it.

gigantic batch of preserved lemons

Our local salmon fisherman, Wild Run Salmon, has started catching and selling cod early in the farmers’ market season. I recently bought some from him and the rest is history, as they say! I decided to make this with cod even though it was not called for in the original recipe. This is a WOW dish –  tasty, colorful and that it’s easy to make is an added bonus. Randy and I were both happy it made enough for two meals this week.  A Sauvignon Blanc was a great match for these flavors.  (I don’t this this would be the case with a New Zealand SB – American or French have the right flavor profile.)

Ingredients for 4 servings

1  pound firm white fish such as halibut, snapper or cod, cut into 4 pieces
Salt and pepper
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped leaves and stems
2 garlic cloves, processed through a garlic press
1/2-1 serrano chile, very finely chopped, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
1/2 preserved lemon, finely diced
1/2-1 cup green and/or black pitted olives, cut in half

Directions 

Marinate the fish in cilantro sauce

Toast 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon coriander seeds in a dry skillet till fragrant.  Cool slightly and roughly grind in a mortar and pestle. Place the cilantro, garlic, chile, 1 teaspoon of the ground spice mixture and the paprika in a bowl.  Whisk the 1/4 cup olive oil and lime juice together and add to the cilantro mixture. Salt to taste. Stir to combine thoroughly. Place some of the cilantro sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the fish on top of the sauce, and optionally salt and pepper to taste.  Set a small amount of the sauce aside for serving at the table with the cooked fish. Place the remaining sauce on top of the fish. Cover the dish and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. You can marinate for longer, but refrigerate except for the last hour.  NOTE: 1/2 serrano packed a lot of heat in the sauce, so I say use sparingly so the heat doesn’t blot out the flavor.

Moroccan Baked Fish with Onions, Olives and Preserved Lemon

Prepare the sauteed onions

Slice the onions. I recommend cutting “pole to pole” rather than “around the equator”.  I learned this technique a few years ago, which results in firmer and less stringy onions. Place the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan and heat over a medium burner. When it begins to shimmer, add the butter. When butter is melted and slightly bubbly, add the onions. Stir to coat, then add the remaining ground spice mixture, 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, the turmeric and cayenne and stir to combine thoroughly. Turn up the heat slightly and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions just begin to brown, 10-15 minutes.  Place in an oblong baking dish large enough to hold all the fish on top of the onions. Stir in the preserved lemon and place the olives on top.

Bake the fish with the onions 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.   Place the fish on top of the onions, scraping all the remaining sauce on top of the fish. Bake on the top level of the oven for 10-15 minutes, until fish is firm to the touch.

Serving suggestions

You can place the fish on top of the onions on serving plates or alongside as shown in the photo. Place a little of the reserved sauce on each serving. You can see we served with fresh roasted asparagus – it’s that time of year!  I think roasted potatoes or some sort of rice dish would be a nice complement.

 

 

Aunt Suzy says . . .

The holidays have been filled with eating, eating, eating – mostly rich food!   Randy and I have decided it’s time for a primarily vegetarian diet over the next couple of weeks.  I decided to start with this Moroccan stew, which  I’ve had on my mind to make for a couple of months, ever since it was served at my book club.  (thanks to Ruth Charchian!) I’ve been looking for some new recipes that use preserved lemon and harissa and this one is delicious!  It’s a riff on one originally posted on Smitten Kitchen.  Orange-based Corfu Salad is a delightful complement to this flavorful stew, and a dry rose wine pairs perfectly!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 1/2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (about one small squash)
2 1/2 cups peeled and cubed red potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, including juice
Pinch saffron threads (optional)
1/2 preserved lemon peel, minced
1 cup brined green olives (I used green olives in herbs de Provence)
1-2 teaspoons harissa, to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Toasted sliced almonds
Couscous, cooked according to directions (I used whole wheat)

Heat olive oil in a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add onion, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon.  Cook, stirring, until spices are aromatic and onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add squash and potatoes, stir to coat and saute another couple of minutes. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes with juice and saffron, if using. Bring mixture to a bubble, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  The squash and potatoes should be easily pierced with a fork, but not mushy or falling apart.

Remove from heat and stir in preserved lemon, olives and harissa. Serve over the cooked couscous and garnish with the cilantro and almonds.

Cook’s Notes: If you do not have preserved lemon, add the juice of 1/2 lemon at the end instead.  If you do not have harissa, but want a little heat, you can use hot sauce to taste on individual portions.  I think this would be good with Kalamata or Moroccan oil-cured olives as an alternative to the green.  If using these, I would cut back on the amount.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I love salads with oranges!  I’d never had one until I started exploring the food of North Africa.  Once my antenna were up, I saw that many cultures use oranges in salads.  This is the first salad with oranges that I made, and I go back to it over and over.  It is especially good with rich Moroccan stews and tagines.  This recipe makes enough for six people but is also flexible.  So vary the quantities according to number of people and your tastes.

The Dressing

2 tablespoons orange juice                             3 tablespoons fruity olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice                              Pinch of cayenne pepper

Splash of red wine vinegar                               1/8 teaspoon paprika

Juice of one garlic clove (use press)           Salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.  Note:  Juice will be expelled when you prepare the oranges.  I always just use that juice, whether it adds up to 2 tablespoons or not.

The Salad

4 seedless oranges (Navel or Valencia)

½ small red onion

18 brined or cured black olives (such as Kalamata, Nicoise or oil-cured Moroccan)

¼ preserved lemon rind, diced (optional)

12 mint leaves or ¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 head romaine lettuce, torn (optional)

Prepare the oranges by cutting off the top and bottom.  Use a knife to cut off the rind (vs. peel with your hands), including the white pith.  This is key to making sure the oranges are not bitter.

Cut oranges in ¼ inch slices, then cut those in half.  Slice the red onion, then cut into half-moons.  Cut the olives in half.  Cut the mint leaves into thin ribbons.   Tear the lettuce into medium pieces; wash and dry.

Assembling the Salad

Toss the lettuce in some of the dressing, then place on a platter.  There are two options after this:

  1. Arrange the oranges in overlapping slices on top of the lettuce.  Place the onion, preserved lemon and olives on top of the oranges.  Drizzle all with the remainder of the dressing.  Sprinkle the mint or cilantro on top and serve.
  2. Alternatively, toss all the ingredients – oranges through mint or cilantro- together with the remaining dressing and place on top of the lettuce.

Note: the lettuce is my addition.  Authentic North African salads of this type do not include it, but I think it adds great texture and flavor.  If you do not use lettuce, increase all other ingredients except the dressing.

Margaux says…

This is the potato salad that I grew up with and that my mom grew up with.  Actually, I can’t really say that  its Grandma’s recipe, but its pretty close.  My mom changed some things, and then I’ve changed some things.  I’d never even seen the recipe until I asked my mom to email it to me last week so that I could submit it to food52’s “best potato salad” contest this week.  I thought I’d actually take a look at the original recipe, to use as a reference for quantities and such…I pretty much wing it every time I make it.  It turns out that Grandma didn’t even follow the recipe either.  So I just went ahead and made it last night, and kept track of what I was putting into it.  Here’s what I came up with:

Ripe Olive Potato Salad

  • 3 cups new red potatoes, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup oil cured black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup pimento or roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • paprika for garnish
  1. Boil potatoes in salted water until just tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Place cooked potatoes into a 9×13″ glass baking dish, and pour olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
  3. In a large bowl, combine marinated potatoes, olives, celery, cucumber, pimento, onion, and one of the eggs. Gently mix in the mayo. Top salad with the other sliced egg, and sprinkle with paprika.

Some side notes:

We usually just use canned black olives, but its really way better when you get oil-cured black olives from the olive bar at your grocery store.  Also, Grandma, my mom and I have always put radishes in it, and omitted the pimento.  But when I saw the original recipe, it had pimento and no radishes, so I tried that version and loved it.  I thought it went really well with the olives.  I also got the pimento at the olive bar instead of jarred (they’re thinly sliced roasted red peppers).  My mom thinks that Grandma just didn’t like pimento, so she substituted the radishes to keep the splash of red color.  I’m wondering if she also did it because radishes were always in the garden, pimento is not.  But if you agree that pimento isn’t your thing, the radishes are also quite good in it.

Aunt Suzy says

It’s potato salad season!  I love exploring different kinds of potato salads and saw this one in a recent Coop flyer.  I usually base the type of potato salad I cook on the season and what’s available.  The nice thing about this one is that it could be made year round given the ingredients.  And what’s not to like about opening a few cans for many of the ingredients?!! Of course all amounts can be varied to personal taste!

Margaux says

I didn’t help make this one at all, but it was delicious to eat!  And it looked pretty easy to make.  I also think this would be good served warm as a side dish in the fall or winter.

The Vegetables

2 pounds small potatoes, red or gold or a combination

3-4 cloves fresh garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound artichoke hearts (not marinated), quartered (one 14-oz can drained)

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced

1/2 cup kalamata or oil cured olives, cut in half

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

The Dressing

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Wash and scrub the potatoes and then quarter or chunk them so all pieces are roughly the same size.  Place in a large mixing bowl.  Process the garlic through a press or mince, then add to the potatoes along with the olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven till crisp on the outside and tender – approximately 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to partially cool.

While the potatoes are roasting, whisk together the dressing ingredients until thoroughly combined and starting to emulsify.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the artichokes, red peppers, olives, oregano and parsley.  Add the dressing and mix well.

Add the potatoes while still warm.  Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.  Serve at room temperature.