Thursday, June 6, 2013

Moroccan Vegetable M'Hancha

Let the Moroccan food parade begin!  Today we're starting off with an appetizer, the M'hancha, or vegetable pastilla.  During our time in Marrakech, boyfriend and I signed up for a Moroccan cooking class, to learn the ways of tagine and couscous.  First we had to locate the riad within the twisting maze of the medina.  Located just off the main place, at the end of a small alley, Riad Monceau boasts a heavy door with multiple locks and a beautiful central pool.

 We were joined at the riad by two couples from the Netherlands and eight Parisian women.  There was a lot of gabbing in multiple languages going on.  I even got to practice my french a bit!  Luckily everyone spoke impeccable english while helping to teach me a little bit of culinary french and dutch.

We were in for a long day of chopping, shredding, cooking, sauteing and tangining.  Is that a word?  Maybe not an english word.  One of the most dangerous thing we cooked all day was the m'hancha, because of all the shredding involved and those dangerous box graters!  (When making this at home, the food processor is much more finger friendly.)

The m'hancha came together pretty quickly, probably because all we had to do was shred vegetables, then roll up the coils.  Our chef/instructor took care of sauteing the vegetables and baking the finished m'hanchas. It may be a whole other story when I go to make these again in my own kitchen!  Give these a try, they were deilcious!

Moroccan Vegetable M'Hancha with Tomato Compote
From Riad Monceau

For M'Hancha

8 sheets phyllo pastry
1/4 small red onion
2 carrots, peeled
2 small zucchini, peeled
1/4 head red cabbage
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten

Grate onion, carrots, zucchini and cabbage on a box grater.  Combine with parsley, cilantro, ginger, paprika and cayenne pepper.  Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add vegetable mixture and cook for 8-10 minutes, until everything is softened.  Remove from the heat and taste vegetables, season with salt and pepper, let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cut squares of phyllo pastry into two rectangles.  Take two sheets and lay them end to end, overlapping about 1-inch.  Spread 1/4 cup of the vegetable mixture in a line along the bottom edge of the pastry sheets.  Gently roll up the pastry into a long cigar, curl the roll onto itself and into a coil.  Tuck the end underneath the coil.  Place on a baking sheet and do the same with the remaining phyllo sheets.  Brush coils with beaten egg.  Bake for 20 minutes.

For Tomato Compote

2 pounds tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro
Kosher salt & black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced

Peel and seed tomatoes.  Add the tomatoes to a skillet and add remaining ingredients, heat to medium.  Cook for 30 minutes, until everything is reduced to a gravy consistency.

Serve hot M'hanchas with tomato compote.

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