Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wednesday: Moroccan Tagine with Tri-Colored Couscous

I had this Vegetarian Times recipe sitting on my counter top for at least 3 weeks, with good intentions of making it. Honestly, I was hesitant. I wanted to try a dish that we have never had before, but was unsure how my family would like it. I might as well let you know right now...I'm a people pleaser. I really want my family to enjoy the meals I cook for them, and sometimes get disappointed when I put in a lot of hard work and the meal just doesn't turn out that great or it is not to our liking. That's one of the reasons I started this blog. I want to share recipes our family has tried and really enjoys, so some of them might become your family favorites as well.

There was a big sigh of relief coming from my end of the table, when we all enjoyed this spiced Moroccan meal. :) We were already familiar with couscous, and have enjoyed it in other recipes, but we don't usually put chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), dried apricots and black olives in the same meal. Check out more about what a
"Tagine" is at the bottom of this post.

Tagine Recipe
6 servings
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp sweet or smoked paprika
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 TB olive oil
1 leek, cut into 1 inch circles
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or a 15oz can, rinsed and drained)
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 dried apricots, quartered
1/2 cup dry-cured black olives, optional (we used kalamata)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1. Combine the first 5 ingredients (spice blend) in a small bowl. Set aside. 
2. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and bell pepper, saute for 3 minutes. 
 Add potatoes, chickpeas and garlic. Mix in the spice blend. Cook for 30 more seconds. 
 Stir in apricots, olives and 2 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes at medium-low heat, or until potatoes are tender. Serve over couscous and sprinkle cilantro on top. 

Note: Don't do what I did...I read the recipe wrong and started cooking the tagine stew in a skillet instead of a pot. After these pictures were taken, I had to pour the ingredients into a soup pot because they didn't all fit. My punishment was I had to wash extra dishes that night! :)

Plan and Prep Ahead

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.

~Chop up all the veggies and keep in fridge until time of use. 
~Mix spice blend together and keep at room temperature until ready to use.
~If using dry chickpeas, make ahead of time and keep in fridge or freeze until time of use.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Use your favorite bean instead of chickpeas. 
~Mix up a different spice blend like oregano, basil and thyme for an Italian flavor instead of Moroccan.
~Skip the couscous and add this stew over rice, bulgur or orzo pasta.
~Instead of leeks try 2 scallions (green onions) chopped up. 
~Replace dried apricots with dried cherries or cranberries for a different flavor. 
~Chop up fresh parsley instead of cilantro.


Moroccan Tagine

A tagine is a traditional North African dish that is slow-cooked inside a ceramic or clay cooking vessel. The bottom of the cookware is a wide and circular shallow dish that is used for serving and cooking, but the top of it is shaped into a dome or cone. Normally, the tagine stew contains meat, chicken or fish with lot's of veggies or fruit with it, but vegetables can be cooked in it alone as well. Learned something new today? I sure did!

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