Moroccan Menu: Cooking with Clay
Recently, a group of my friends and I got together and had a Moroccan-inspired dinner party. We eat, we drank, we laughed and generally had a grand time. I told another friend about it a few days later and he wondered if Moroccan food is difficult to make. It made me wonder how many people out there are missing out on this fantastic cuisine because they are intimidated. So, this week, I'm featuring a few recipes from that dinner party. This time around, we're talking veggies:
You can almost see the tenderness and caramelized flavor that's packed into these vegetables. They are perfectly roasted without a hint of charring or the like. How is that possible? Well, in this case, they were roasted in a clay pot like this:
Otherwise, the recipe is incredibly straight forward. You chop vegetables into similarly-sized pieces (I chose sweet potatoes, eggplant, and onions), toss them with a generous drizzle of oil and spices (you could use a wide variety of spices, but I opted to go with some very common Moroccan ones), and place them in a wet clay pot. Then it's just a matter of letting them sit in a hot oven and think about being one of the most tantalizing side dishes I make. It's just that simple. If you haven't tried clay pot cooking, this recipe is a fantastic place to start and it will have you contemplating other ways to use it to bring beautifully roasted, tender dishes to your table.
- 1 large onion, cut in 1/4-inch slices
- 2 small eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch thick pieces
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut in 1/4-inch pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Combine all of the vegetables and garlic in a large bowl; combine the spices and oil in a small bowl; mix together (I like to do this by hand) and spread the vegetables in the bottom of a large clay pot that has a lid. You should soak the pot and lid under water to get it wet before putting the vegetables inside. This will help insure that the vegetables will not dry out during roasting.
Bake at 400° F for 10 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven, stir well, and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are softened and gently caramelized.
- Yields: 6-8 servings
- Preparation Time: 30-45 minutes