Salade Juive ( Moroccan Confit Of Tomatoes and Peppers with Coriander ) or Shakshouka

This is one of my favorite recipes. I am not sure if it is because of the story of how it came to be or if it is because it just so flavorful. It is a perfect when you are gathering the last of the tomatoes and peppers and can be frozen for several months. It especially goes well with Tagines, but it makes for a perfect room temperature side dish or, as we had it served to us when we first tasted it, as a salad with lunch.
30I was traveling in Southern France with Joan Nathan. Joan can deconstruct the most extended of family stories and seamlessly blends the threads of history and brings forth a recipe all while teaching us the roots of the Jewish world. Joan has unraveled many a recipe or a food story based on a comment. I have been witness to Joan going to great lengths in search of a recipe only to discover no recipe, but instead a great story. Being with Joan on her quest for her next story can be a mind altering, dizzying experience. She was on a mission to find the Jewish roots of recipes long forgotten as Jewish when she was working on her book, Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France.

She “heard” that there was a Jewish chef in Luberon, just outside of Gordes, and we went searching to meet this person. We pulled into the restaurant, Le Mas Tourteron, just as lunch service was ending. We were greeted by Elizabeth Bougios, the chef and owner. Joan immediately stated her mission and asked Elizabeth if she were Jewish. She replied, “pas du tout—not at all.” Not to disappoint us as we had driven two hours from Saint Reny, she invited us to take a seat and stay for lunch.

We were served a plate of three salads alongside a cold zucchini soup. Our favorite was the cooked tomato and pepper salad with coriander. When we inquired about it, Elizabeth, exclaimed: “ca, c’est la Salade Juive-that is the Jewish Salad!”, and told us of a Jewish Moroccan woman who worked in her kitchen. Joan found her recipe! And Joan made a friend in Elizabeth and invited her to Washington, D.C. to partake in her annual fundraiser, Sunday Suppers. For the past eight years, Elizabeth and I have been volunteering for this fundraising event that brings chefs from all over together to prepare meals in host homes, with the proceeds going to the two largest soup kitchens in the U.S.. Every year we reconnect with Elizabeth and both Joan and I continue to serve Salad Juive, often retelling our story!

My own take on this recipe is that this is Shakshouka, which is a North African dish. When I was in Morocco, a salad was served to me that tasted very similar but with preserved lemons. Here I serve this with a goat cheese soufflé. Make a double batch and serve it for brunch with poached eggs on top!

This recipe was adapted from Joan Nathan ’s Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France.

314 pounds peppers, red or yellow

1# thinly sliced yellow onion

2 pounds ripe red tomatoes (you can use canned)

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, ground

1-teaspoon cumin

2 cloves of minced garlic

¼ cup of minced shallots

¼ cup white wine

½ teaspoon saffron threads

Salt to taste

1-tablespoon tomato paste

1-tablespoon fresh chopped chives

½ teaspoon hot cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

taginesPlace the peppers on a hot grill, turning them as they get charred for about 20 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a brown bag and seal it. This allows the steam to loosen the skin of the peppers. When they are cool, peel them, and remove the seeds and stems.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for a minute or two, remove with a slotted spoon, and cool in a bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin. Roughly chop the tomatoes.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the cumin and coriander seeds and allow to mellow for a minute, then add the shallots, garlic, tomatoes and peppers.  Add the wine, saffron and tomato paste to the frying pan and cook slowly, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the hot pepper and the lemon juice and sprinkle with the fresh cilantro and chives. Serve as a salad or appetizer.

Yield: 8 servings or about 4 cups

For Brunch:

In a skillet, place the pepper mixture and allow it to gently heat through. Make two “holes” in the center of the pan and crack an egg in each spot. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes- depending on how well done you like your eggs.

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