I let E pick the sandwich tonight. Instead of following his stomach, he decided to pick a country that he felt most inspired by from Google maps and let that decide what we ate. “Morocco.” he declared.
I was last in Morocco in 1998, on a weekend trip during my study abroad semester in Spain my junior year of college. I ate loads of couscous, bought a rug, rode a camel. I also had a beefy Spanish boyfriend, Javier, who was waiting for me to return from my trip at my apartment in his white Volkswagon Golf wearing the tightest pair of crotch-hugging Levis and a white t-shirt and two spritzes too many of Hugo Boss men’s cologne. Que suave! I thought. Until my visa expired and I came to my senses.
E was there in 2010, on vacation in between programming gigs, kitesurfing around the world, picking up chicks and bedding them when he had some spare time in between catching waves and wind (or so he says). This, of course, was before he met moi. “One day, I will take you there,” E said. But first, dinner.
Lamb sausage sandwiches with harissa and sweet potatoes, plus a side of Moroccan spicy carrots, were what he decided on. Neither one of us had made this dish before. Finally, he and I had an even playing field in the kitchen.
E moved around like a tornado from the cabinets to the countertop slinging spices around. He prepped roasted tomatoes (which he’d made before, but these were a condiment for the sandwich) and spicy carrots with chermoula, a parsley and cilantro-based marinate. “I have no idea how this will come out,” he admitted.
I got to work on the sweet potatoes using a classic recipe for Moroccan sweet potato salad, but without the parsley. Spices were everywhere. “This meal is either going to be awesome, or disgusting,” I said. “Well, we’ve got wine, so it won’t be that bad.” E answered.
When the vegetables were almost done, we cooked the sausages on the stove and assembled the sandwiches. The sausage was complimented by the sweet strips of sweet potato scattered throughout, and the bread was slightly softened by the roasted hearty tomatoes. “Mmm! We’ll make this again!” E said.
This was a man’s sandwich. Though we served it up with those spicy carrots, I could see this paired with ruffled potato chips or French fries. This sandwich was a meal to eat while watching football, or playing poker, or chilling out after raking leaves or plowing the driveway, or something I would make for E when he felt like lounging on the couch and watching James Bond movies.
But tonight, none of that would happen. “We’ve got a new Family Guy on DVR!” E declared.
4 baguettes or crusty rolls
4 ripe on vine tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne
2 sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons harisa sauce (you can buy that at an specialty grocer or Middle Eastern market)
1 1/2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
For the roast tomatoes: boil a soup pot’s worth of water on stove, and have a mixing bowl of ice and water handy. Cut an x on the bottom of each tomato, boil in hot water for 20 seconds each, then shock in the cold water. This allows the skin to peel off easy. Skin tomatoes and cut into halves. Then slather on olive oil, salt and pepper, and a few shakes of cayenne. Pop in oven at 400 for 45 minutes.
Next sweet potatoes: peel and julienne sweet potatoes and place in oven safe small pan. In another small bowl, mix the olive oil, ginger, paprika, cumin, lemon juice and honey. Pour mixture over carrots and stir well, making sure all of the carrots are coated. Add pinch of salt, and pop in oven for 30 minutes.
When veggies are 5 minutes from cooked, slice the sausages down the middle and cook in non stick skillet with the tiniest bit of olive oil (a small splash). Cook on both sides until brown. Toast baguettes. Make a spreadable harissa sauce by blending the harissa and Greek yogurt (we used equal parts of both, but you can add more harissa to make it as spicy as you wish). Assemble sandwiches by spreading harissa mixture on bread slices, then placing sausage (we only used one half a sausage on each sandwich), tomatoes, and carrots inside. Serves four.
For the spicy carrots: peel and slice carrots, then steam until tender. Place in bowl and pour in chermoula. Stir until carrots are evenly coated, and refrigerate while you make vegetables and sandwich. Serve as side dish.