Packed with loads of delicious, robust Mediterranean flavor, this Moroccan Vegetable Tagine is 100% vegan, easy to make and is very good eaten on it’s own or served with couscous (or your favorite rice dish).
Moroccan preserved lemons are ridiculously easy to make and would be a fabulous gift for any adventurous cook; however it takes a few months before they’re ready to eat so if you don’t have any or haven’t been able to buy them, just substitute fresh lemon juice in the couscous recipe below.
Chermoula is a marinade that’s used in classic North African cuisine and works equally well with fish, meat, seafood or vegetables. There are many versions of chermoula and I particularly like this one – all you’ll need is a food processor.
The vegetables need to be cut roughly the same size and you can mix them up by substituting different ones or adjusting the proportions to taste. When it comes to any recipe containing ground cumin, I recommend dry-roasting whole cumin seeds in a skillet until they’re fragrant, then grinding them up. You’ll get tons more flavor than you will from powdered, store-bought cumin.
MOROCCAN VEGETABLE TAGINE & COUSCOUS with PRESERVED LEMON
Ingredients for the chermoula:
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
About 1 inch (3cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
The juice of 3 medium lemons
3½ fl oz (100ml) of olive oil
1 tablespoon each of honey, ground cumin, smoked paprika & turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne (increase or decrease, depending on how much heat you like)
1 cup measure (240ml) of chopped fresh cilantro / coriander leaf
Ingredients for the tagine:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 medium carrots, cut into chunks (I used the rainbow variety here – no need to peel if they’re very young)
1-2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
Half a medium sized butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into chunks
2 red onions, cut into chunks
2 large sweet (or regular) potatoes, cut into chunks
4 medium leeks, trimmed, cleaned and thickly sliced
12 dried black mission figs, stalks trimmed (use pitted prunes or dates if you prefer)
A couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh mint, to serve
To make the chermoula, pulse all the ingredients in a blender then set the sauce aside.
I use a slow cooker, otherwise pre-heat the oven to 425F (220C).
Put the vegetables in a large bowl and toss them in the oil. Over a medium-high heat in a wide heavy pan, saute the veg until lightly browned (you may need to do a few batches). Transfer the veg to a large casserole/dutch oven or slow cooker and stir in the dried figs.
Add the chermoula then pour 14fl oz (400ml) of water over and stir to combine well. Put the lid on, stick it in the oven and cook for 45 mins then reduce the heat to 350F (180C) for another 45 minutes.
If using a slow cooker, cook on ‘high’ for about 3-4 hrs, or until the veg are tender and fragrant.
Serve the vegetables on their own or with couscous (recipe below), sprinkled with chopped fresh mint.
COUSCOUS with PRESERVED LEMON
2 cups (480ml measure) of plain couscous
2 (480ml) cups of water
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 shallots, finely minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (480ml) of pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon of Preserved Lemons, finely chopped (or substitute 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice)
1 tablespoon each of finely chopped fresh parsley and cilantro (coriander)
Put the couscous in a shallow pan with a lid. Heat the water and when it boils, pour over the couscous and put the lid on. Let it rest for about 5 mins to absorb all the water.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over a medium heat then add the minced shallots, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes.
Fluff the couscous with a fork and fold in the cooked shallots, toasted pine nuts, preserved lemons (or lemon juice), cilantro and parsley. Serve immediately.