One of the requirements for our Thanksgiving is that each family had to bring a dish from their country. We had Indian Samosas with chutney, South Indian idlis with another type of chutney, Mexican minced meat stuffing and chicken, a French beet creation (our French friend said it was French but didn’t have a name for it), baked brie in puff pastry, and another French potato dish. Even though I’m American and made all the traditional American Thanksgiving food, I also had to represent the Moroccan side of our family to stay true to the spirit of our multicultural Thanksgiving. So I chose Moroccan chicken with lemon and olives and a Moroccan-inspired stuffing.
Since there is no such thing as stuffing in Morocco, googling “Moroccan stuffing” got me nowhere, I had to create my own. If you’re interested in making stuffing with a Moroccan twist, adding in dates, almonds, pears and Moroccan spices, here’s how I did it. And by the way, this was one of the most popular dishes on Thanksgiving. I made two stuffings, a traditional and a Moroccan-inspired, and everyone except my cousin, who is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, preferred the Moroccan.
2 loaves of ciabatta bread (or baguette), one white and one wheat, shredded into bite size cubes and left out to dry for 2-3 days.
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
3 stalks celery
2-4 cloves of garlic (depending on your own preference for garlic)
2 cups vegetable stock (more may be needed)
¾-1 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup almonds, toasted on the stove
1 pear (crisp, not too ripe), diced with skin
¼ cup parsley
3-4 T each of fresh chopped sage, thyme, oregano, cilantro (you can also add or substitute rosemary, marjoram, savory or any of these other Thanksgiving spices you may have on hand- the more the merrier)
1 T cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Toast the bread in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven. While the bread is toasting, dice the onion, garlic and celery. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat until onions are soft (10 min).
Add all the spices and cook for a few minutes more, until fragrant. Remove from heat. Add the veggie stock, eggs (beat them with a whisk or fork first), and bread. Add the dates, almonds and pear. The pear should not be too ripe or it will get a little mooshy.
When all ingredients are combined, put the mixture in a casserole dish and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Notes and Modifications:
The bread mixture should be very moist but not soggy either. The bread should definitely not be at all dry or you need more veggie stock. You may need to adjust veggie stock to get the right amount. You can also use chicken stock but I wanted to make this dish vegetarian.