Simmer this bountiful, warmly spiced, vegetable loaded tagine for a genuine accompaniment to couscous; you’ll have loads of beautifully reheatable leftovers for the whole week. A touch of chickpea flour at the end creates a lightly creamy broth that bathes the veggies in a golden glow. It’s easy to shake this recipe up by swapping in different vegetables; sweet butternut squash in the winter and zucchini in the summer are my favorites.
If you have a big clay pot or very large clay tagine use it here. If not, a heavy, enameled cast-iron or stainless-steel pot is your friend in preparing this dish.
- 1 very large yellow onion, peeled, sliced in half, and sliced into 1⁄4-inch-thin half-moons (about
- 2 cups of slices)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 large leek, roots trimmed and white and light green parts sliced into 1-inch-thick rings
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced into 1⁄2-inch chunks
- 1 smallish head of cauliflower, about
- 1 pound
- 2 cups diced ripe red tomatoes or one
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 cups chickpeas; if using canned, rinse well and drain
- 2 teaspoons ground sweet paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
- One 3-inch stick cinnamon
- 2 1⁄2 cups vegetable broth
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons chickpea flour
- 1 recipe Fluffy Spiced Couscous ,prepared and kept warm
Ras-el-hanout is a special Moroccan spice blend perfect for this couscous and tagines. If you can find some, use 1 tablespoon or more in place of the ground spices. (For more info on ras-el-hanout *.)
1. In a large pot over medium-high heat fry the onions in olive oil for 5 minutes, then add the garlic, leek, and carrot and fry another 15 minutes until leeks are softened. Slice the cauliflower into quarters, remove the leaves, and cut away the thick inner stem, then slice into large chunks at least 2 inches wide. Add to the pot along with all of the remaining ingredients except for the chickpea flour and couscous, stir everything well to incorporate the spices into the broth, and bring the broth to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Pour the chickpea flour into a small bowl. Scoop out 1⁄2 cup of the cooking liquid from the pot and whisk it into flour to form a thick sauce. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sauce back into the pot and gently stir to dissolve the sauce into the broth, taking care not to mash up the cauliflower too much. Leave the pot uncovered and simmer another 10 minutes. Test the vegetables for doneness; if they’re tender enough, turn off the heat. If they could use a little longer continue to simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes until the desired tenderness is reached. Turn off the heat, cover the pot once more, and let stand for at least 15 minutes or more before serving to allow the flavors to blend and the stew to cool down slightly.
To serve, spread freshly prepared couscous onto a serving dish or individual dishes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the veggies onto the top of the couscous, then pour the sauce over the veggies and couscous and serve immediately.
With Winter Squash: Add 2 to 3 cups chunks of peeled winter squash. Make the chunks at least 1 inch wide to prevent them from falling apart during the simmer.
With Summer Squash: Slice on a diagonal 2 pounds of summer squash into 1-inch-thick pieces. Add toward the end of the simmer along with the chickpea flour mixture and simmer until tender but not completely falling apart.
With Preserved Lemon: Stir in 1 tablespoon of finely chopped preserved lemon (see Preserved Lemons, Two Ways).
With Saffron: Use 1⁄4 teaspoon of saffron threads in place of the turmeric.
With Okra or Green Beans: Replace leeks with 1⁄2 pound of trimmed, small okra pods or green beans.
RAS-EL-HANOUT: You feel like you’re doing something particularly smart when buying a spice blend whose name translates to “best in the shop”! Used in Persian cuisine, ras-el-hanout can be a complex, heady mix of up to twenty different spices. Try rubbing it into tofu or seitan before marinating or grilling, or stir into rice before boiling.