I tend to be a little overzealous when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. While they are usually attainable goals, it’s the sheer number that makes them difficult to complete. I do have a few for 2015 that I’m quite serious about, though. One is to push myself even further in the kitchen: I want to work with new ingredients and spices, try new techniques, and constantly try to learn through trial and error. The goal inspired me to tackle a Moroccan tagine, something I have never thought to make before. It’s often the cuisines I know very little about that daunt me the most, which is how I felt with Moroccan food. But I’m so glad I took a chance with this dish. It turns out that tagines don’t need much “tackling” at all: this recipe was wonderfully easy to make and, best of all, didn’t require any obscure ingredients.
Named after the traditional clay pot it is cooked in, a tagine is a lightly-spiced stew that is often made with meat. For this vegetarian version, I used chickpeas to add heartiness and protein. With fragrant spices like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon and dried fruits like apricots and raisins, the dish is packed with wonderful flavors that come together to make something both comforting and exciting. And I love that it only requires one pot, since the uncooked couscous is added directly into the stew. Healthy and filling, I view this as the perfect vegetarian dish.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- Two cinnamon sticks
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅓ cup dried apricots, chopped
- ¼ cup raisins
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can cooked chickpeas, drained
- 2 carrots, chopped
- ½ head cauliflower, chopped
- 1 cup pearl couscous, uncooked
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ cup toasted pine nuts
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, sautee the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat for about five minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir for about two minutes, and then add the apricots, raisins, tomato, stock, chickpeas, carrots and cauliflower. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15-25 minutes.
- Add the uncooked couscous and cook until the couscous is al dente, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.
*Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Pearl Couscous Tagine recipe in How To Cook Everything Vegetarian.