Marinated olives the Moroccan way: 6 ways of making “zitoun mchermel”

This post is all about how to marinate cured olives the Moroccan way. As I have promised in the previous post about Moroccan olives, I’ll pass on to you some of our family recipes on how to reproduce the marinated olives you find in the Moroccan stalls and Moroccan olive shops.

From left to right: Moroccan pickles, green olives with spinach and herbs, green and violette olives with harissa and garlic, plain pitted green olives
We have a few recipes which are so easy to make. So if you love olives, then you’re in the right place.
Harissa all the way!
I’ll be using 250g of olives for all the following recipes. I must say that the additions are all a matter of choice, so adding or reducing garlic, harissa, herbs is all up to you.
Green olives with garlic and fresh parsley and coriander in the making
Like I mentioned here, unpitted olives which are not floating in tons of brines are the best thing to get but if you really (but really) can’t then the others will do.
This is an amazing mix I bought from the olives guy, he mixed marinated green olives pickles and rice, This goes straight in sandwiches or is added to briouats and rolls fillings, to seafood bestillas…
Notes before getting started
1- Depending on how they’ve been handled, some olives might be harder than others. Nothing wrong with that. However, if you have hard olives in your hands (as opposed to soft), then make sure you place them in boiling water for 15 min at least twice then drain and pat-dry them before going ahead with the marination.
2- A pestle and mortar is much better to obtain the pastes used for the marinades.
4- These recipes are mostly to guide you to on how to get some of those pastes commonly used by Casablanca olive shops (If you happen to be there, grab a taxi and head to Benjdia Market (7 am to 5 pm) in downtown Casablanca or Friday’s market or Marche Jem’aa not far from El Houbous.
Today’s recipes are all in here!
Ingredients
250g of unpitted olives (ideally done by you)
Prep: 5 min – No cooking required
1- Olives with chermoula (any kind)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste
  • 3 tbps of fresh parsley and coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 tbsp of preserved lemons with the core, chopped
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne or 1 heaped tsp of mild harissa,  or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3 tbsps of olive oil.
The soft black olives are marinated with chermoula made using a pestle and mortar (we were generous with the preserved lemons)
2- Olives with harissa
  • 2 tbsps of mild harissa or to taste
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste (optional)
  • 3 tbsps of olive oil
Harissa can be mild or hot. We prefer the mild version because it brings the flavour without disturbing the palate
3- Olives with thyme and garlic (goes well with soft Moroccan black olives)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of dried thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste 
  • Enough olive oil to cover half of the olives (which I use for cooking or for salads)
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional)

 

4- Olives with dried herbs and garlic (goes well with soft Moroccan black olives)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of dried thyme, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste 
  • 3 tbsps of olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
5- Olives with tuna and harissa (ideally with sliced the green olives)
  • 50g of tuna (in a tin)
  • The oil from the tuna (optional, replace with olive oil)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste (optional)
  • 1 tbsp of mild harissa
  • 2 tbps of chopped pickles including cauliflower, green and red pepper, carrots, gherkins, cabbage (optional)
Usually, if the green olives and cut this way they catch more of the tuna marinade
6- Pitted green olives with spinach paste (chopped green olives will do as well)
  • 1 cup of poached spinach and squeezed to drain, finally chopped (poach in hot water for 1 min then dip them in ice-cold water for another minute then put them in a strainer)
  • 2 -3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or in paste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of parsley and coriander, in fine paste using a pestle and mortar
  • 1 tbps of preserved lemons with the core, finelly chopped (optional)

 

You could more be generous with the spinach mix but this picture is showing the minimum you could go for
how beautiful does this spinach and preserved lemon green olives cone looks?

 

Preparation

Mix all ingredients and keep in a clean jar for at least 48 hrs before serving. Keep in the fridge at all times.
The version with tuna should be consumed within 3 days. For the rest, anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks.
I can’t have enough olives in my house!

Appetizers: Stuffed mini-batbout with tuna and cream cheese dip

I’m using a tuna and cream cheese dip to stuff Mini-batbout but also to spread over Lavash flatbread to make wraps (you could use tortilla).

This tuna dip is really easy to make and can be made ahead (a few hours) and left in the fridge.
This goes well with Nachos or crackers. I just happen to love Batbouts, so I make them ahead of time and freeze them.  And today they ended up stuffed with the tuna dip for a 10 min appetizer recipe.

 

You can also use this recipe to make soft mini-batbouts, it has a different ratio of white flour to fine semolina flour.

Ingredients
For 20 stuffed mini-batbouts/
Prep 7 min

For the mini-batbouts(30 +)

 

 

For about 1 ½ cup of filling
  • 150g of cream cheese (Philadelphia, Kirri, St-Moret, or just a good fresh cheese)
  • 100 to 150g of canned tuna, drained
  • 3 to 4 tbps of finely chopped cucumber
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 soft black olives, finely chopped
  • Cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chives or fennel leaves ( they look like dill and come on the top of a fresh fennel bulb)
  • A few drops of lemon juice

 

Preparation
Mix all ingredients with a fork. Adjust the seasoning and place in the fridge for a couple of hours before using it.

Open the batbouts from the edges for about 1/2 of the circle.

Spread the tuna dip/cream. Sprinkle some finely chopped letuce.  Press slightly

Serve within the day…


Grilled sardines: quick and healthy

 

The thing about El Jadida is that there is an abundance of mints (many types), vegetables and sardines. So it will be rude not to enjoy all these things while I’m here!
People over here do not like the big sardines, they’ll tell you that medium size and slightly curled is a sign of a good sardine which is good for grilling, straight from the sea…
Last weekend, my mother went to the port and went crazy, she bought squids, whiting, anchovies, a big fish for stuffing and of course sardines..
I was trying to convince my mother that the best grilled sardines should be as fishermen do: as a whole with intestines and everything, literally straight from the sea to the grill, no fuss. She said that it needs inner cleaning..So I made 2 rows in my grill, one with cleaned sardines from the inside, one without.

Guess what? Keeping the sardine intact gives you tasty and juicy sardines, there should be no argument about it. When you have it in front of you in your plate, clean it up (inside and skin off)! Ask the fishermen! They know their stuff..

 

Ingredients
Serves 2 to 6 (entrée or main dish)
Prep: 15 min – Cooking: 8 to 10 min
  • 1 kg of fresh sardines, medium-size, no cleaning required
  • Sea salt
Preparation
Line up the sardines on a grill, sprinkle sea salt and char-grill them (low flame) about 3 minutes from each side or until there is no red colour close to the bone.
Serve with squeezed lemon or harissa sauce (paste with lemon and olive oil).

 

Note: if you can’t grill this BBQ style, heat the oven at maximum temperature, grill position. Place them on a grill, covered with aluminium foil.

 

We peel off the sardines and serve them with a spicy tomato and harissa sauce
That’s how juicy the sardines are, when freshly caught and grilled

 


Chicken rolls and a chicken pie, because we need easy comfort food

I must say that this is an overdue post. I have made these chicken rolls and this chicken pie while I was still in Qatar, but somehow, it got forgotten!

One of the things you should know about me is that I recycle leftovers a lot. I hardly throw food unless I really have to. My family is quite good at it as well..So ideas overflow especially when it comes to roasted meat. In this case, I had a whole chicken breast and we didn’t feel like having it the way it looked. So it ended up in a pie and a handful of rolls. Besides, these things freeze well, so it’s a make-ahead dish. You just pop it in a hot oven and it’s ready.

Isn’t this enough for a dinner?

Like any recipe using leftovers, you can adjust it and change it the way you want, but you have to remember that brik or phyllo sheets need cold or room temperature reduced stuffing or they tear into pieces.

Closer from inside
Ingredients

Serves 2 to 4
Prep: 5 min – cooking: 10 min – baking: 20 min

  • 1 chicken breast (no bones, cut in cubes or stips), or any meat you like
  • 1/4 cup of frozen green peas (or frozen spinach)
  • 1 medium-size onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bell pepper or zucchini or any of your favourite vegetable, chopped (optional)
  • Chopped herbs (coriander, or parsley, or thyme)
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Paprika (optional)
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of creme fraiche or cream cheese, more if for the pie
  • 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp of grated cheese (your favorite)
  • About 250g of filo (phyllo) sheets or brik sheets
  • Some melted butter for the sheets

 

Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200 – 220 C.

Chichen creamy filling (you can even make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge)

In a skillet,   heat the oil, cook the onions, frozen peas and any other vegetable you have in hand until almost tender. For a chicken and mushroom pie, sautee the sliced mushrooms along with the chicken.

Add the chicken pieces (even raw chicken is ok, it cooks quickly anyway) and garlic.

When all ingredients are cooked, add cheese and/or creme fraiche and mustard (for a dry mix to use for the roll, use less cream and add chopped pickles or olives). Set aside to cool and drain.

However, If you are going to make a pie, there is no need to drain or wait until it cools down, you will actually need more cream (about 5 tablespoons) to have an oozing stuffing.

Same recipe, I just added the leftover roasted carrots, cut in cubes for the pie

Add the grated cheese, feel free to add the quantity you want.

Making the rolls/the pie and baking

Brush each sheet with melted butter and stuff it just like this. You need to cover the other unused sheets so they don’t dry in contact with air.

Bake for 10 to 15 min for the rolls or for 20 to 25 min for the pie until golden brown.

Serve warm (not hot, so the cheese thickens) with a salad on the side or some soy sauce or just lemon slices for freshness.

 

Good looking, comforting and easy  to make type of pie, if you are not in the mood for making rolls