Vegan Moroccan Dinner Party – Part 1

I recently had the pleasure of hosting a vegan dinner party for new friends.  As I don’t normally cook this way, it was a challenge to come up with a menu that didn’t consist of any animal products—no meat, dairy, eggs, cheese, honey, etc.  After a little research, I decided to do a Moroccan meal. This flavorful cuisine utilizes lots of vegetables, legumes, spices and herbs so I thought it would be suitable for an entire vegan menu.

This is part one of a two part blog.  This blog will cover the appetizers and cocktails and part two will cover the table setting and dinner menu.

The Cocktail

I always like to serve a welcoming cocktail that sets the theme for the coming meal.  In this case, I wanted to create a cocktail that would combine some of the classic flavors of the Middle East, including citrus, spices and the unique perfumey flavor of orange blossom water (available at Indian and Middle Eastern stores or online).  After a little research and some mandatory taste testing, I came up with this recipe.

The orange peel and spice simple syrup infusion smelled wondering simmering on the stove.The cocktail turned out to be a very unusual yet refreshing drink with flavors my guests found to be somewhat mysterious!

Feel free to experiment with this recipe.  Substitute cloves or cardamom for the star anise or try switching the orange liqueur to limoncello.  Instead of using sparkling water, you could use unsweetened iced tea.  And if you’re looking for a non-alcholic version, use orange juice instead of orange liqueur.

For a non-alcoholic version, replace the orange liqueur with orange juice.

Appetizers

I found a very unusual hummus recipe that included saffron, cumin, cloves and cinnamon.  I was a little afraid to try it because it called for honey and it was hard for me to imagine a sweet hummus.  However I was pleasantly surprised to find the flavors worked so well together and will definitely make it again.  It was both both savory and sweet and the combination of spices gave it a rather complex flavor profile.  Here’s the recipe. (Note: I substituted agave syrup for the honey to keep it vegan.)

Moroccan Spiced Hummus with Honey

Starting at the top left corner going clockwise: chili spiced peanuts, Moroccan spiced hummus, olive tapenade, pita bread, taktouka.

I also made a Moroccan dish called “taktouka” which is primarily made with tomatoes and green peppers.  I substituted pasilla peppers for the green bell peppers which gave it some mild heat.  I served the taktouka and hummus with a basket of pita bread.  Here’s the link with the recipe.

http://mymoroccanfood.com/home/taktouka

I rounded out the appetizer tray with some store bought chili spiced peanuts and a dish of olive tapenade.  I used a silk scarf with a colorful paisley pattern to line my serving tray.  The blue and white hand painted vase was a gift from a former student from Turkey (from my previous career as an international student advisor).  I filled it with some greenery from my backyard and added a candle on the other side of the tray.  While my living room is not exactly a tent camp in the middle of the Sahara, I tried to represent in some small way the warmth and hospitality of a Middle Eastern gathering.

Next week’s blog will feature the dinner menu and table setting.  Stay tuned!.

I thought these paper napkins with the thistle crowned owl were appropriate as they reminded me of the falcon, an important symbol in the Middle East. The white ceramic appetizer plates from Crate and Barrel also seemed fitting because of their textured handmade finish.

2 thoughts on “Vegan Moroccan Dinner Party – Part 1

  1. It looks lovely and delicious. (I can tell by the photo of the simmering citrus items how lovely the house must have smelled!) I think I’d be skeptical of a sweet hummus, too, but hummus is so adaptable to so many flavours, I suppose it could be sweet, too. 🙂

  2. Thank you! I do encourage you to try the sweet hummus, although I know it’s hard to imagine until you taste it. It is really an interesting flavor and it’s not overwhelmingly sweet.

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