This weekend, bring the lush spices and vibrant flavors of Moroccan cuisine into your home. Chef Mourad Lahlou, chef/owner of San Francisco’s award-winning Aziza restaurant, created this delicious feast, which is perfect for memorable a gathering of friends and family.
From simple nibbles of marinated olives and almonds to a traditional vegetable tagine, these recipes will add new colors, spices and textures to your table. Using a mix of scratch ingredients and products created for us by Chef Lahlou, they range from super-simple to more involved projects — something for every cook.
Try the recipes, then read on for our entertaining tips to help you pull off the party.
Start off the evening with simple snacks of seasoned olives and almonds. A variety of green olives with different textures, sizes and degrees of intensity keeps it interesting, as do additions of citrus, herbs and chiles. Crostini spread with goat cheese and tomato jam make delicious hors d’oeuvres, too.
Gather around the table and begin your meal with a beautiful beet salad, paired with fluffy, creamy avocado puree and a sweet-savory pumpkin seed crumble.
A main course of chicken charmoula with chickpeas is simple to prepare with Mourad’s braising sauce. A mixed vegetable tagine of fennel, cauliflower and root vegetables is the perfect accompaniment, along with sauteed chard flavored with preserved lemons.
Offer spiced caramelized onions as a condiment, like Moroccans do. And classic couscous, steamed in the traditional method and finished with brown butter and parsley, is a must for soaking up all of the flavorful sauces. It’s a bit labor-intensive, but you’ll be rewarded with some of the best tender, fluffy couscous you’ve ever tasted.
For dessert, wow guests with an impressive dessert that’s still light and refreshing. Chef Lahlou tops his orange blossom parfait with lime granita and serves it with a delicate hazelnut tuile.
- 1 week ahead (or more): Make the olives and almonds and refrigerate in a covered container. Make the tomato jam and store in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator.
- 1 day ahead: Make batter for hazelnut tuiles and refrigerate. Roast the beets for the salad.
- Morning of: Make and freeze the dessert granita.
- Afternoon of: Make the orange blossom parfait for the dessert. Make pumpkin seed crumble and avocado puree for the salad. Caramelize the onions for your condiment. Bake the hazelnut tuiles. Steam the couscous up until the final steam. Bake crostini.
- Before serving: Finish and assemble the salad, couscous, crostini and dessert. Make the tagine and the chicken charmoula. Lastly, saute the chard.
- Instead of matching salad or appetizer plates, choose complementary ones in a similar color palette. They’re easy to mix with other solid white dinnerware you may have — or choose a solid in a vibrant shade to pair with them.
- Tagines aren’t just for cooking. They move easily from oven to table for simple family-style serving (with just a little bit of drama).
- Hammered silver serving pieces inspired by vintage Moroccan tableware make a beautiful accent for a bright table.
- Add texture to the table with embroidered napkins that suit both formal and casual occasions.
- Colorful dishes and table accessories don’t need much embellishment. Skip a big floral centerpiece and opt for a simple table runner and a few fresh flowers in a glass or jar.