When I first tasted this dish prepared for me by Renée Tangy I was amazed at how simple, yet delicious it was. The sweet, soft prunes almost melt in your mouth, while the crunchiness of the toasted whole almonds adds a nice balance in texture. Although it may seem to be more like a dessert, the addition of sautéed onions gives a certain savory flavor making it a perfect side dish for roasted chicken, lamb, or any other kind of meat. You may also prepare the prunes over steamed couscous for the Moroccan festival of Mimounah at the end of the Passover holiday.
2 pounds pitted prunes
(about 2 dozen jumbo size)
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions (about 1 1/2 medium)
2 teaspoons orange or lemon zest
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup vegetable or chicken stock
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup blanched, whole almonds
1. Place prunes into a medium sized bowl and fill with warm water to cover. (If you are using prunes in the can they may already be very soft and moist, so do not soak or they will become too mushy when cooked; Skip to step #2). Soak for 15 minutes to soften prunes, then drain.
2. Heat a large skillet with the oil for 1 minute over high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until golden, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the prunes and mix well with the cooked onions. Lower to medium heat and cook
10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning.
4. Combine the zest, orange juice, stock, cinnamon, and sugar in a small bowl and mix well. Add to the prunes and cook over medium heat until prunes become very soft, about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and taking care not to break up the prunes.
5. Place almonds onto an ungreased baking tray and bake in a 350 F. oven for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature, then toss with the cooked prunes.
6. Serve hot as a side dish to lamb, veal, or beef.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10 (Makes About 4 Cups)