This week I'm planning a Moroccan-themed dinner. All of my friends will be attending a big birthday bash on Saturday night, so I thought it would be fun to get together early and have a delicious dinner. Instead of sending invitations, I've called everyone to personally invite them to dinner.

The menu is simple and flavor-packed. To get the party started, I'll serve mini Moroccan lamb burgers with lemon yogurt sauce and Moroccan carrot goat cheese sandwiches with green olive tapenade. The main course will consist of a fragrant Moroccan chicken potato salad with olives.

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Mini Moroccan Lamb Burgers with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

Mini Moroccan Lamb Burgers with Lemon Yogurt Sauce


For the lemon yogurt sauce:
1 pint plain Greek-style yogurt, preferably full-fat
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
Kosher salt
1 loaf brioche bread
For the mini burgers:
2 pounds ground lamb (preferably shoulder meat)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
About 20 grinds fresh black pepper
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 small head red leaf lettuce, washed, dried, trimmed and torn into small pieces
4 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds


  1. Make the sauce: in a medium mixing bowl, stir together the yogurt and lemon zest and juice. Season, to taste, with a couple pinches of salt. Sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before using.
  2. Cut the brioche into about 1/3 to 1/2-inch thick slices and then use a small glass to cut out as many circles as possible, about 3 inches in diameter, from each slice. Place the bread "buns" in an airtight container until ready to use so that they stay moist and soft.
  3. Make the burgers: preheat the grill.
  4. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and work together until they are fully incorporated.
  5. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop the mixture into little balls about 1 to 1 1/2 inches big and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Using your hands, flatten burgers to about 1/2-inch thick and just a couple inches in diameter.
  6. Once the grill is hot, place them on the grill and cook, about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until fully cooked through; cook time varies based on how hot your grill is.
  7. Place the cooked mini burgers on top of the cut brioche and add a piece of lettuce and a tomato slice. Top with a dollop of the lemon yogurt sauce and serve.

Serves 6.

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Moroccan Carrot Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Green Olive Tapenade

Moroccan Carrot Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Green Olive Tapenade


For carrots
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 lb medium carrots (8)
For tapenade
1 1/4 cups green olives (6 to 7 oz) such as Cerignola or picholine, pitted
3 tablespoons drained bottled capers, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 flat anchovy fillet, chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
For sandwiches
12 slices good-quality pumpernickel sandwich bread
6 oz soft mild goat cheese (3/4 cup) at room temperature


  1. Prepare carrots: whisk together sugar, lemon juice, spices, salt, and oil in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Halve carrots crosswise on a long diagonal, then, starting from diagonal ends, cut into 1/16-inch-thick slices using slicer.
  3. Cook carrots in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 45 seconds.
  4. Drain well in a colander and immediately toss with dressing. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then marinate, covered and chilled, at least 4 hours.
  5. Make tapenade and assemble sandwiches: pulse olives with capers, parsley, anchovy, zest, lemon juice, and pepper in a food processor until coarsely chopped, then scrape down side of bowl with a rubber spatula.
  6. Pulsing motor, add oil in a slow stream and continue to pulse until mixture is finely chopped (do not pulse to a paste).
  7. Spread tapenade on 6 slices of bread and goat cheese on remaining 6 slices, then make sandwiches with carrots.

Makes 6 sandwiches.

Make ahead: carrots can marinate up to 2 days. Tapenade can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered.

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Moroccan Chicken and Potato Salad with Olives

Moroccan Chicken and Potato Salad with Olives


1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes (about 5)
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
7 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3)
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
1/3 cup black olives, such as Kalamata, halved and pitted
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan with salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a gentle boil until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes.
  2. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small glass or stainless-steel bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, cumin, paprika, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the ginger, and the oregano. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of the oil.
  4. Heat a grill pan or a heavy frying pan over moderate heat. For the grill pan, coat the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes.
  5. Turn and cook until browned and just done, about 4 minutes longer.
  6. Remove, and when cool enough to handle, cut the chicken into 1/4-inch slices. For the frying pan, heat the oil in the pan and then season, cook, and slice the chicken in the same way.
  7. In a large bowl, combine the warm potatoes with half of the dressing. Add the chicken, onion, olives, parsley, and the remaining dressing and toss.

Serves 4.

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