gluten free christmakwanzakah dinner!

This year we didn’t travel to Montreal and celebrate Christmas eve with the in-laws.
We decided to invite a bunch of friends over and cook up some Moroccan, and Persian
savoury dishes alla the 3 kings. 🙂
I decided everything had to be gluten free!


Dried black olives
Local (Ontario) sheep’s milk Feta
Quinoa crackers
Raw crackers: beet, flax, sunflower seeds, onion, olive oil, lemon, corriander, sea salt, cilantro, red pepper flakes (pureed in a food processor then dehydrated over night).

Muhammara (dip, spread)
Two giant organic red peppers (roasted, then peeled)
2/3 cup- toasted walnuts (lightly toast them in a pan)
garlic (4 giant cloves)
1.5 tsp- cumin (ground)
1.5 tsp- hot red pepper flakes (you could also use Jalepeño or more pepper flakes)
2 tsp- Pomegranate molasses
Muhammara generally calls for stale french bread, sour dough, or wheat crackers- I used Quinoa crackers instead!
2/3 cup broken up Quinoa crackers. But, you could also use the Raw beet crackers mentioned above. They would add more spice and colour!

Roast the peppers until charred all over.
Rinse under cool water then peel, stem and seed them, then chop coarsely.
Place everything in the food processor and process until quite smooth. Taste for salt. I rarely, if ever use salt.
Let stand several hours before serving. If chilled, bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve with gluten free flatbread or sesame crackers, etc..

Zeitoun Parvardeh (I cannot get enough of this stuff!!)
The first time I ever tried Zeitoun Parvardeh was at the Pomegranate restaurant
in Toronto. Listed as ‘vegetarian caviar’. It is SO good! Eat it out of a bowl with a large spoon, with sesame flat bread, like a pesto on pasta, in a salad, with eggs. It is just simply that good.

6.5 ounces (36 lrg olives or more) Green pitted olives
1.5 cups- walnuts (toasted)
.25/.5 cups- pomegranate molasses
.25 cups- lemon juice
2 cloves- garlic
.5 tsp- golpar- angelica (similar to parsley only sweeter)
if you cannot find angelica no worries! Add some fresh parsley.

toast walnuts lightly then grind them up until fine in your food processor.
chop up olives or add them to your walnuts in the food processor. This really
depends on your preference for chunky or paste-like dip consistency.
Add the pomegranate molasses, if you like a more sour taste- add more.
Add the lemon juice (I didn’t add lemon juice this last time and it was great!)
Add the garlic after pressing/crushing it. Then add the golpar or parsley.
This spread actually gets better after it sits in the fridge for a day or two but rarely lasts that
Before serving I added fresh pomegranate seeds, chopped walnuts and fresh mint. YUM!

The next several recipes are heavily adapted from a book we were given years ago, “The Moroccan Collection” by Hilaire Walden. We’ve created almost every dish in the book and some have stuck with us as favourites!
I should add that most of the recipes are fairly conservative with the spices. What makes Andrei’s lamb Tagine so damn fantastic is that instead of using only one sad cinnamon stick broken in half he uses something like three or more handfulls worth of cinnamon sticks! No kidding, we’re talking over a dozen sticks here but the results are truly phenomenal.
We use only organic and local when possible. Italian parsley for anything that calls for parsley- and, we love Cilantro!! Muwahahahaha!! Even or friends that HATE Cilantro, love it in the lamb tagine.. and other dishes we’ve created. Honest.

I’ll start with the vegetarian dishes first.

Warm Chickpea salad tart, tangy and soOOoo good!
1 giant can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed or two 14 oz cans.
1 tbs of red pepper flakes
fresh grated ginger (the original recipe calls for a 1.5 inch piece) we use double that
juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1 bunch of Cilantro chopped
2-3 garlic cloves finely crushed
1 red onion, finely chopped
5 tbs virgin olive oil
mixed ground cumin and smoked paprika, to serve

Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion, garlic and ginger- cook gently for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
Add the chickpeas, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest- stir for about 25-30 seconds then add the lemon juice and stir until the mixture starts to bubble and is almost dry- add the cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.

Put the chickpea salad into a bowl, pour over the remaining oil and sprinkle the cumin/paprika mixture over the top.

Carrot salad with cinnamon, lemon and honey Unusually good. Get a Spiralizer!

1 pound of fresh young organic carrots- grated, or if you own a Spiralizer use this place of grating!
.5 cup of plump raisins
6 tbs virgin olive oil
1 lemon- juiced
2 tbs ground cinnamon
1 tbs raw honey
lightly toasted chopped almonds to garnish

Grate or spiralize the carrots- put them in a bowl.
Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, and honey with a whisk and pour it over the carrots
toss it all together- add the almonds.

Minted cucumber and tomato salad
This is so easy to figure out I’m not even going to add the recipe. Make up your own- add lots of fresh mint and lemon juice. Preserved lemon rind adds a whole other dimension!

Fragrant Rice!
1.25 cups of Basmati rice
4-6 cardamon pods
2 tsp saffron threads
2 cinnamon sticks
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
1 tbs olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
2.5 cups of water
2 tbs lemon juice
.5 cups raisins
.5 cup toasted pine nuts

Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Put the crushed cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks, saffron, cumin seeds, and bay leaves in a large saucepan and dry-fry over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the oil, when it is hot stir in the onion and cook for 10 minutes stirring frequently until softened and browned. Add the rice, turning to coat the grains in the oil, when some of the grains start to lightly brown – stir in water, lemon juice, raisins. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes without lifting the lid, or until the rice is just tender, all the water has been absorbed and small holes puncture the surface. Remove from the heat and leave, covered, for a few minutes. Fork through pine nuts and serve!

Andrei’s Lamb Tagine
Several key notes-
The lamb needs to be fresh, and organic (ideally). A boneless leg, or shoulder chops. If you are in Toronto check out Cumbrae‘s or the Healthy Butcher. For real, the cut and locale of the meat makes a huge difference in flavour.
Medjool dates! Do not settle for others. Ever.

3 pounds of lamb, cut into large cubes
1 tbs ground coriander
1 handful of freshly grated ginger
1 whole container of Spanish saffron threads (the rectangular box)
4 tbs olive oil
18 shallots
4 garlic cloves, crushed
(in place of 1 tbs of flour we use Almond meal/flour)
2.5 cups of stock- we blanch the shallots and use this water (reduced) as our stock
2/3 cup of sun-dried tomato paste (home made)
depending on the strength of the cinnamon 12 – 15 cinnamon sticks
1 whole head of cilantro
1/2 a head of Italian parsley
1 bay leaf
2/3 cup of madjool dates, pitted
1 tbs raw honey

The night before
Put the lamb into a large bowl. Mix together the coriander, ginger, saffron, and 1 tbs of the olive oil and stir into the lamb. Cover and refrigerate over night.

Next day, remove the lamb an hour before cooking. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, add the shallots and boil gently for 2 minutes. Drain the shallots, but keep the water that you boiled the shallots in and reduce it!
Meanwhile, rinse the shallots and let them cool- peel them but leave the root ends intact.
Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large pot, add the lamb in batches and cook until evenly browned; add more oil as necessary. Remove the lamb from the pot. Put the garlic into the pot and stir for one minute, add the lamb, shallots, stock, tomato paste, cinnamon sticks, cilantro, parsley, and bay leaf. Stir together- decant into your tagine(s)!
Put the tagine into a preheated oven (400f, 204c) and cook for an hour and fifteen minutes.
Add the almond flour/meal, honey and dates and cook for another 15 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8 and the left overs are amazing!

Suggested wines (served in small ceramic cups):
Wolf Blass Shiraz
Masi Campofiorin

One thought on “gluten free christmakwanzakah dinner!

  1. yumz! These are very satisfying recipes to make so I’m glad you are sharing them…… i just hope that when i go to a pot luck that i can still keep the tagine as my signature dish 😉

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