Remember when I told you about my first experience with the typical Moroccan way to cook salmon à la sauce rouge? Well, I have another story to share with you that has nothing to do with fish or sauces, but that deals with Moroccan cooking nevertheless. I absolutely love having people over for Shabat Friday night dinner, and when I do, I tend to host a Moroccan-type meal where we first serve a bunch of salads with hallah, followed by fish and then the main course. Most Moroccan families tend to stick to the same couple of salads, although I like to mix and match and add some Syrian, Asian, Israeli and Italian salads to the lot, like this cumin-spiced edamame salad. But when I do add a Moroccan salad, it tends to be salade cuite – a cooked salad made with bell peppers and tomatoes. Bell peppers are roasted until blistered and black, then peeled and cooked with lots of oil and tomatoes. The salad takes forever to make as the tomatoes have to first release all their liquids and then soak up all the oil before the salad is ready.
Everyone has their own way to make this typical salad although all contain the same ingredients and take just as much time to cook: four hours if you use canned tomatoes, and up to six for the braver cooks that choose fresh tomatoes instead. You might be wondering why I’d ever torture myself cooking JUST ONE SALAD for six hours, but the result is so darn delicious that it makes the lengthy process entirely worth it.
So now that you know all about the unending ordeal to turn bell peppers into a staple Moroccan salad that my husband and his family adore, imagine my excitement when I discovered a new recipe calling for bell peppers and tomatoes but that takes no longer than 40 minutes to cook! It’s not the same as the typical salade cuite, but when time isn’t on my side this salad perfectly fits the bill. It even won the hearts of Jon’s family, who told me that I shouldn’t even bother making salade cuite anymore given that this one is just as good (and should I mention, so much more healthier since it contains less oil?).
To make this salad, you’ll need two red bell peppers and one green bell pepper, as well as two large tomatoes, an onion, green olives, tomato purée and a couple of spices. Begin by dicing the onion and frying it on medium heat with olive oil until softened. Add the diced bell peppers to the onions and cook, covered, for about 10 to 15 minutes until softened. Add the diced tomatoes, spices, green olives, bay leaf and tomato purée, and let the whole simmer for about 30 minutes until all the vegetables are completely soft and can be mashed easily with a fork. Tomatoes do release a lot of liquid, so if you want a salad with a drier consistency, let the whole cook a bit longer. Some like their salade cuite a bit more mushy, however I love it chunky so I leave it as is. The Moroccans tend to serve the salads at room temperature, but you could also serve this one as a side dish to accompany meat or chicken, or even over potato purée.
For my Moroccan readers out there, or those who are married to Moroccan families, don’t fret any longer over unending days in the kitchen – Savormania is here to help, as you now have a substitute to salade cuite and to saumon à la sauce rouge marocaine that take even less than half of the time to achieve. I promise, there’s more coming!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 10 green olives, pitted and chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Black pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons tomato purée
- 1 bay leaf
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Fry the onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cover the saucepan, cooking the vegetables on medium-low heat until they softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, olives, salt, ground cumin, black pepper, tomato purée and bay leaf. Mix to combine. Cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until all the vegetables are soft and cooked through.
- Remove the bay leaf and serve at room temperature or warm.
How did your cooked bell pepper and green olive salad come out? Share photos of your recipe on Instagram with the hashtag #savormania