I haven’t posted to this blog in a long time. Partly it’s because I’ve been travelling a lot, and partly because I’ve been cooking old, familiar recipes instead of trying new ones. But mostly it’s just that I’ve gotten behind. I have a stack of recipes that I’ve cooked and keep meaning to blog about, but never seem to get to. And the longer I wait the less I remember. But last night I made a new recipe that’s definitely worth blogging about. It’s a moroccan-style tagine from the Angelica Home Kitchen cookbook by Leslie McEachern. Derek and I have tried vegetarian (or at least meatless) tagines at Moroccan restaurants before, and never really cared for them. The broth is always a bit boring and the vegetables bland and overcooked. And the cous cous never really excites us. I decided to try this tagine recipe because it didn’t look like what we’ve gotten in restaurants! There are lots of spices and not much broth.
Ingredients for the spice mix:
- 1.5 tsp. coriander seeds (originally 1 tsp.), toasted
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted
- 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds, toasted
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, toasted
- 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns, toasted (not in original recipe)
- 3 cloves, toasted
- 2.5 tsp. ground cinnamon (originally 1 cinnamon stick , which is about 1.25 tsp. ground)
- 1.5 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 – 1 tsp. cayenne powder (originally 1 tsp.)
- 1.5 tsp. sea salt (originally 2 tsp.)
Ingredients for the stew:
- 3 cups roughly chopped onion
- 2 Tbs. chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- spice mix from above
- peel from 1/2 of an orange, julienned (originally 2 strips orange peel, which are removed before serving)
- 2 strips lemon peel, julienned (originally 2 strips lemon peel, which are removed before serving)
- 2 tsp. peeled, minced ginger
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 2 cups diced turnips (or a mix of turnips and potatoes)
- 7 – 8 oz (200 – 225g) seitan in chunks (optional, not in original recipe)
- 1 – 2 cups of water (originally 2 cups)
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas (If using seitan reduce to 2.5 cups, about 400g)
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes and their juice
- 1 large or 2 small zucchini cut in medium-size dice, about 2 cups (I cut mine into half moons)
- 1/2 head cauliflower, cut in florets (about 2 cups)
- 1 ounce seedless raisins (about 1/3 cup packed—my addition, not in original recipe)
- 5 prunes, roughly chopped (my addition, not in original recipe)
- 1/2 cup firmly packed Kalamata olives, pitted and halved (not more finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Chop the onions and mince the garlic and ginger. Let them sit.
- Toast the coriander, cumin, caraway, fennel, cloves in a small skillet until fragrant. Grind them to a fine powder in a spice mill or coffee grinder. Stir in the cinnamon, cayenne, turmeric, and salt.
- Chop the carrots and turnips.
- Place the onions, garlic, and olive oil in a 5- to 6-quart casserole dish over medium heat. Saute for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
- Add the ground spices, fruit peels, ginger, carrots, turnips, and seitan. Saute briefly, then add 2 cups of water, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes more.
- Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, and the tomato juice and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the zucchini and cauliflower.
- Add the zucchini and cauliflower and continue to cook uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes more.
- Add the chopped olives and the dried fruit and simmer 3 minutes longer.
- Mix in the cilantro and serve hot.
I tweaked the recipe a bit, either because I couldn’t find certain ingredients (like the turnips), because I was tired of chopping (the olives), because I am leery of too much salt, because I wanted some more protein (the seitan), and because after tasting the final dish I thought it needed more spices (the extra cumin and cinnamon) and sweet flavors (the raisins and prunes). Dried apricots would have also probably worked well. The recipe called for 1 tsp. cayenne powder, but that sounded like a lot so I started with 1/2 tsp. and it was spicy enough for me, but not for Derek). I misread the 1/2 Tbs. of turmeric as 1/2 tsp., but next time I want to try the full 1.5 tsp. I couldn’t find turnips so I used about 1 1/3 cups diced potatoes. My jar of chickpeas only contained 400g (about 2.5 cups), so I also added about 8 ounces of homemade seitan. I got tired of chopping so left out the olives.
I added some water (about 2 cups) before I added the tomatoes, because I was afraid the stew would burn before the vegetables were cooked through. Most of the water cooked away though, and the stew ended up being quite thick, not brothy at all. The flavor was complex and well-balanced, and all the different vegetables and cuts gave lots of textural contrast. It’s pretty healthy too. The only downside is that it seemed to take forever to make. (The ingredient list is really long!)
The recipe says to take the lemon and orange peels out before serving. I had used my microplane to zest the lemon, but I just broke the long strips of orange peel up into smaller pieces. I thought they’d be bitter, but they weren’t at all. They actually added a lot of flavor. When you bit into a piece there was a burst of orange flavor that was a really pleasant surprise. I think next time I’d use a bit more orange peel, but cut it up into smaller pieces from the beginning.
The cookbook says this recipe serves 6-8, but I think if you’re having it as a one-dish meal as we did, without cous cous or another grain, then it probably only makes about 5 to 6 servings (with the added seitan). It’s not particularly high fat (about 25% of calories from fat without the olives). So if you want a more filling dish maybe add more seitan and a bit more olive oil.
Derek really liked the dish. He said it was well-balanced and very satisfying—a well-made dish.
Derek: A– (on the low side of A-, but better than a B+)
Update October 21, 2012: I made this again but used slightly large amounts of vegetables (e.g., heaping 3 cups of carrots, slightly more than two cups of carrots, 1/2 of a very large cauliflower, etc.) It was good I used a 6 quart dutch oven because the dish ended up filling the entire pot! The spices were good except I only used 1 tsp. of salt, which wasn’t enough, even with the kalamata olives. And at the end I added a bit more cinnamon. I added the dried fruit with the tomatoes, which was a mistake as the prunes totally fell apart. This time I used store bought seitan which was stiffer than my homemade seitan. So we cut it into smaller pieces and it didn’t add as much texturally as the last time, but still I liked the addition. I only added 1 cup of water this time and the stew was quite thick. There wasn’t much broth at all. If you want a brothier dish add a bit more water.
I made this as a one pot dinner for four people (with 1 cup of dry cous cous). I didn’t have any cous cous but the other three finished it off, and we ate most of the stew. I think each person had about 1.5 servings and there were about 1.5 – 2 servings left, so I guess the recipe does make about 6-8 servings total. Again, Derek and I liked this dish. It’s not fancy food but it’s satisfying, colorful, full of bright flavors, and healthy.
Update April 2014: I doubled this recipe tonight, because I wanted lots of leftovers. I used my 8-quart stockpot but it wasn’t big enough. I had to saute the cauliflower and zucchini separately. I forgot to toast the spices before grinding them, but I couldn’t tell the difference. I also chopped the olives too small, so you couldn’t really taste them much. Jessica sliced the carrots thickly instead of dicing them, and I liked the cut. She cut the potatoes and turnips into large squares, which were also good, and the zucchini into half moons. Other than that the problem with the pot not being large enough the recipe worked very well. But next time even if I want a lot of leftovers I’ll just multiple it by 1.5, not 2!