By Michelle Lyn

The wild thyme company   |   7163 Construction Court, San Diego
Neighborhood: Sorrento Valley
(858) 527-0226

Buck tradition and host a holiday dinner party with a global twist this year. The holidays are a great excuse to get together with friends, but let’s be honest: You can only do so many turkey dinners in one month. Dawn Parks and Keith Lord from The Wild Thyme Company show us how to think outside the box when hosting guests during the holiday season.

From florals to the tablescape to the menu, here are some tips on how to throw an eclectic Moroccan dinner party that will take your guests on a sensorial trip around the world (passports not required).

Mood Setting
We love using candles and lanterns for ambience. There is so much great traditional Moroccan music or you can make a great mix, alternating the familiar with the traditional for excitement.

Table Decorating
Use a lot of fresh flowers, but watch the strong scented varietals; you don’t want to cover the rich scents of the spices in the food. During the day, take the family out on a walk, gather autumn leaves to complete the tabletop look, and use the table decorating as a family activity.

Menu Planning
Moroccan foods can be very holiday friendly because they are so full of rich aromatic spices that make the whole house smell amazing. The dishes are often slow-braised meats and vegetables with an amazing amount of side dishes to pass around with a variety of different flavors. Carrot salads, marinated peppers, cauliflower, beets, lentils and garbanzos are side dish combinations that pair well with the tagines (earthenware pots).

Designated Drinking
We like Moroccan mint tea (sweet iced tea with lots of mint), but even more than that, we like it when you add lime juice and vodka for a refreshing food-friendly cocktail.

Butternut Squash & Harissa Hummus (Recipe courtesy of The Wild Thyme Company) 

Yields 6 cups

– 2 pounds butternut squash

– 1 cup plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– 4 cloves garlic, peeled

– 2 serrano peppers, seeded and cored

– 1/4 cup tahini paste

– 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

– Salt and pepper to taste

– Curried yogurt for garnish

– Green harissa for garnish

– Cilantro leaves for garnish

– Spiced roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Rub with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place squash cut side down on parchment lined sheet pan and bake until very soft.

Over low heat poach the garlic, serrano peppers and remaining olive oil until completely soft. Garlic should be very lightly browned.

Scoop out flesh from roasted squash and add to food processor. Add poached ingredients (garlic, serrano peppers, olive oil), tahini and lemon juice. Puree smooth. Season.

So take notes, people, and start planning the dinner party everyone wants to be invited to this year. If your heart’s in it, but you just don’t have the time to do all the cooking, you can always call Dawn and Keith and let them do the cooking so you can take the credit.