I have a pantry and refrigerator full of winter vegetables to eat before I leave Philadelphia to spend the holidays in the Midwest. Ever since I tried a vegetable tagine* at a little Moroccan restaurant in the hilltowns of Southern France last spring, I’ve wanted to make my own. Luckily, my local middle-eastern market carries harissa** and I’ve had a small can waiting until winter for this warming dish. My household tends to like dishes more savory than sweet, so I topped the tagine with green onions, though raisins are traditional.
Moroccan Tagine with Couscous
1 sm. Onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 ½ Tbs. harissa paste
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 ½ c. vegetable broth
Freshly ground pepper
15 oz. can chickpeas
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
½ crock-neck squash, peeled and cubed
1 inch piece of peeled ginger root
1 bay leaf
½ cauliflower, chopped into small florets.
1 ½ c. cherry or grape tomatoes
1 sm. Zucchini , cut into large chunks
1 ½ c. water
2 Tbs. margarine
1 ½ c. whole wheat couscous
1 tsp. salt
Preparation: Fry the onion and garlic over medium-low heat in a large skillet until the onion is translucent. Add the harissa paste, cumin and coriander, reduce the heat to low, and let the spices toast for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and vegetable broth, stir, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chickpeas, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, ginger and bay leaf, raising heat to medium and covering the skillet. After 10 minutes, add the cauliflower, tomatoes, and zucchini. Reduce heat to low, the simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very soft, about 40 minutes.
Bring the water and margarine to boil, the remove from heat. Add the couscous and salt, stir, and cover for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff the couscous with a fork. Serve the vegetable tagine over the couscous and top with green onions or raisins, as desired.
*A tagine is the Morrocan glazed ceramic dish with a domed cover that is traditionally used to cook this stew. You can make yours in a large skillet.
* Harissa is a North African chili paste made with dried or roasted chilis, garlic, coriander, olive oil, often tomatoes, and sometimes rose petals. You can make your own harissa, but it is easier, and usually tastier, to purchase it. Harissa comes in a small can or sometimes a tube, and can be purchased at a middle-eastern or international food store.