Monday, December 1, 2014

Moroccan Vegetable Tagine



When wintertime drags on and on and the sun seems like a distant memory, I start cooking colorful foods. Moroccan cuisine has always lifted my spirits with its tangerine-tinted-tagines. Visions of amber, North African sunsets come to mind. My cabin-fever-blues are chased away.

Adapt it to your favorite vegetables like butternut squash and/or regular potatoes. Get creative and make it your own.

                                                


Tagines are spice infused stews laced with saffron and ginger. My husband says they help to cure his seasonal colds. This stew develops layers of flavor from a few key spices. A smoky backnote of Spanish paprika makes it warm and satisfying.





Moroccan Vegetable Tagine Recipe

 makes an entire large pot full




Some Notes 


Let's talk about the spices a bit. I don't want you to get hung up on trying to find all of them for this stew. I think the smoked paprika and cumin are essential to this dish. The saffron and the ras el hannout lend a purely Moroccan flare which is delicious.But don't stress if you can't find it. I buy my ras el hanout from a wonderful source, Soluna Garden Farm. Use the saffron sparingly as it's very strong and can easily overpower a dish.

I think it's necessary to thicken this stew and most vegetarian stews, otherwise they tend to lack body.  My go-to, gluten-free thickener is usually a few tablespoons of potato starch mixed with a few tablespoons of water. In this stew I used garbanzo bean flour with cold water. Both work well.

Rapunzel No Salt Bouillon Cubes are my go-to vegetable broth base when I don't have time or will to make my own. I buy them at Whole Foods or online.
I find I have more control over the consistency of the cauliflower when I roast it. I add it at the end so it doesn't become a mushy mess in the stew. It retains its shape and texture better this way. 

Serve it with rice and it forms a complete protein. Couscous, quinoa or even flat bread would pair nicely with it too.



Ingredients


  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 large red onion or regular onion, diced
  • 1 baking potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 orange, red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced. Remove the seeds and veins to reduce the heat or omit if you don't like it spicy.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or pressed in a garlic press. 
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (optional)
  • 1 lemon or lime 
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 16-oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained. 
  • 2 dried bay leaves. Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving.
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • A pinch of saffron, about 5 threads (optional)  
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ras el hanout (optional but very good, see notes)
  • 8-ounces of tomato sauce. A little more than half of a 15-ounce can. I use Muir Glen brand.
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  •  3 cups of water  
  • A few tablespoons of potato starch mixed with cold water or a few tablespoons of chickpea flour mixed with cold water to thicken the stew. (for explanation, see notes)
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Sea salt to taste   
  • To serve: basmati rice, pita bread, slivered almonds, dollop of creme fraiche, sour cream or Greek yogurt 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put cauliflower in a baking pan with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt. Cover the pan with foil and roast until it's tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno (if using) with a little salt and cook until tender. Cover the pot and stir frequently. When the vegetables are soft, add the bay leaves, smoked paprika, ras el hannout and cumin. Saute the spices for about a minute to release their flavor. Add the rinsed and drained chickpeas, the sweet potato, regular potato, garlic, ginger, tomato sauce, bouillon cubes, and 3 cups of water. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add a pinch of saffron (if using).
Cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the flavors meld and mellow. When the vegetables are soft and the stew is almost done, mash some of the potatoes with the back of a spoon, stir in the chickpea flour/water mixture or potato starch/water mixture, roasted cauliflower and frozen peas. Cook for about 1 minute more. Remove bay leaves.
Squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice over it. Serve with regular rice, basmati rice, couscous, flat bread and/or slivered almonds.


Bon Appetit!

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