My favorite thing about Moroccan dining isn’t the sizzling, sumptuous tagines or the endless cups of mint tea, but the muqabbilat (Arabic for “starters,” according to Wikipedia), the delicious, colorful collection of salads, relishes, and dips that, like the Levantine meze, come at the beginning of every meal.
Two years ago, when I was in Marrakech with my mother, our dinner at the riad included a wonderful cabbage salad with coconut. When we told the waiter how much we loved it, he disappeared and returned with this:
green (white) cabbage
salt + pepper
Not so much a recipe as an ingredient list, but this isn’t really a complex dish; a list of ingredients is about all you need. I tried it out a few times once I got back to Philadelphia, but I haven’t made it in quite a while precisely because this is a salad that requires you to buy two cabbages. Two supermarket-sized choux yields a whole hell of a lot of this salad, so in the past it’s been quite the commitment to make. That is, until I was at Fair Food Farmstand on Tuesday and spied these:
I can fit both in my hand! I could make salade de deux choux and NOT have to eat it for a solid week. And here, I even wrote the recipe down for y’all, albeit with some tweaking:
Salade de deux choux
two small cabbages, one red, one green
1 c dried unsweetened shredded coconut
1 T honey
1 T dijon mustard
1 c chopped toasted nuts–I used pecans
1/2 c olive oil
1 T chopped shallot
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice to taste
I’ll admit right up front that I’m totally guessing about the measurements, because I don’t really like to measure. Eyeball it, taste often, and adjust as necessary.
- Shred the cabbage. A food processor is going to make this step a lot easier if you have one. Toss with coconut and three-quarters of nuts if you care about presentation, otherwise just dump all of them in.
- Make the vinaigrette: whisk the honey, mustard, and shallot until combined. You could also add the lemon juice at this point, but I didn’t add it until the end when I realized something was missing. Stream in olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper, add to salad. Toss salad.
- Get your mind out of the gutter–we’re all adults here.
- If you haven’t added the lemon juice yet, add it now to taste.
- Garnish with reserved nuts, if using.
And if you have a Moroccan bowl in which to serve it, so much the better.
*In French, mon petit chou (lit. “my little cabbage”) means something like “my dear” or “sweetie darling.” Appropriate, mais non?