It's about that time! Bring on the Moroccan Dinner Party Menu (including a prep schedule) and all the mint tea please!
Our Moroccan adventure a few years back was one for the record books. We packed it full of incredible food, tons of adventure and a lot of spa time (it's where I live my best life). You know my favorite thing to do after an epic trip like that is to bring it home and turn it into a dinner party, so that's exactly what we've got going on today!
Moroccan food is loaded with tons of fun spices, herbs, nuts and dried fruit... the works. And guess what - it's super healthy! Perfect for the new year. I took the best of the best from our time in various parts of the country and gave it my west coast spin. There's a tagine, tons of herbed couscous, the most incredible harissa olives you'll ever have in your life and more! It tastes like you're wandering the food stalls in the souks and your kitchen will smell incredible! It's the perfect dinner party menu for no matter who's coming over! Picky eaters will love it, and adventurous eaters will appreciate a fun new spin on a dinner menu! Ready to see what we've got in store... here we go!
Let's start at the beginning...
Every meal in Morocco, no matter what part of the country you're in, starts the same way... mint tea!! There's no real recipe for it - just hot water and fresh mint leaves! It's refreshing and clears your palate and I drank approx 3990384 glasses of it a day and I haven't stopped since returning home. Some people like to add black tea as well - but we all know I don't handle caffeine all that well 🙂
We've got 2 appetizers on deck...
Marinated Green Harissa Olives - if you're obsessed with olives like me, Morocco is your place. Every market is lined from floor to ceiling with olives of every shape and color! Just toss your fav olives with my harissa sauce to give them an extra punch. The result: perfection.
Roasted Eggplant Dip aka Zaalouk with Homemade Naan - Guys, we have to talk about Zaalouk. It's a north African version of baba ganoush and I don't think I've ever loved eggplant more than this. Serve it up with homemade flatbread and the rest is history.
And then onto the main course...
Moroccan Tomato Salad - this simple salad was my LIFE in Morocco. I ordered it at every single meal and I could never get enough. It's perfect and compliments any main course perfectly.
Chicken Tagine with Olives - oh man did we have a lot of tagine!! It was the main dish on every table and we tried chicken, beef, lamb, goat, seafood and even an egg tagine. So I upped the ante on everything we had in Morocco and made an even better recipe! One that doesn't actually require a tagine because you can bet I wasn't hauling that thing home!
Herbed Couscous - I'm not going to lie to you, by the end of the trip you couldn't have paid me to eat any more couscous. But in my defense, in Morocco they just serve it plain, and I always need a little more pizzazz in my life. So, I brightened it up with herbs and some citrus because it makes everything better, always!
And to finish it all off with a simple dessert...
just whip up an assorted fruit platter and throw some dates and turkish delight on it! Whatever is in season is perfect. Here you'll find a variety of winter produce, but truly you could serve just about anything and it would make sense!
Full Menu looks like this:
- To Start: Marinated Green Harissa Olives and Roasted Eggplant Dip
- Salad: Moroccan Tomato Salad
- Main: Chicken Tagine with Herbed Couscous
- Dessert: Seasonal Fruit Platter
- Drinks: Mint tea should for sure be served before / during and after the meal. The basic recipe is listed above. And if you want to add a cocktail, might I suggest an assortment of beer! If you can get your hands on a case of Casablanca, that's the route!
Okay let's talk Prep Schedule for this dinner party menu:
Morning of (sometime between 9am – 11am)
- Make the harissa for the marinated olives. Once it's ready, go ahead and combine it with the olives and cover and refrigerate until dinner time. Talk about the easiest app of all times
- Prep the entire Roasted Eggplant Dip from start to finish. Transfer to a container and cover until dinner time.
- Make the chicken tagine marinade mixture and slather the chicken with it. Then refrigerate for a few hours.
Afternoon of (sometime between 1pm – 3pm)
- I know we don't NORMALLY like to refrigerate tomatoes, but I make an exception today. Prep the Moroccan Tomato Salad start to finish, cover and put in the fridge until dinner. It's great to serve this semi-chilled since it's a nice compliment to the piping hot tagine!
- Chop all the herbs for the herbed couscous and transfer to a damp paper towel lined bowl. Cover with more damp paper towel and store in the fridge.
- Arrange your season dessert platter and cover with a damp paper towel to keep it moist. I prefer fruit to be served at room temp, so leave it on your counter (covered) until you're ready to transfer to the table.
Right before guests arrive:
- Remove the Harissa Marinated Olives and the Roasted Eggplant Dip from the fridge and let come to room temp before serving.
- Prep the crudite and/or pita bread to serve alongside the Roasted Eggplant Dip. Arrange on a platter and add a bowl of the dip.
- The Herbed Couscous only takes about 10 minutes to cook so go ahead and cook the plain couscous now. Once cooked, fluff with a fork and toss with the herbs and seasonings and transfer to a serving bowl
- Roughly 1 hour before you want to sit down for dinner, remove the chicken from the fridge and finish making the tagine. You'll want to aim to have the chicken seared off and starting to simmer by the time your guests arrive. That way your house smells amazing and then the chicken can do it's thing for 30 minutes unattended. If you need a few more minutes to hang before sitting down to dinner, just remove the chicken from the heat once cooked and let rest. It will stay warm with all the liquid.
Before you sit down for dinner:
- Remove the Moroccan Tomato Salad from the fridge and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Transfer everything else to the table and serve.