Deep vegan flavor with subtle spicing
Tagines (aka tajines) are at the heart of Moroccan cooking. And when the weather turns chilly, these stew-like dishes satisfy.
This version is vegan, with sweet potatoes and cauliflower. It’s simmered in a tomato sauce that’s fragrant with cinnamon, cumin, and ground ginger.
Roast-veggie tagine is so succulent that meat eaters won’t complain. And you can make this dish ahead of time (in fact, it tastes better if prepared the day before you plan to serve it).
So get ready to Moroccan roll.
Recipe: Moroccan Roast Vegetable Tagine
OK, maybe we should call this Moroccan-style tagine, because the preparation isn’t strictly traditional. For a traditional tagine, you need to cook all the ingredients together for hours.
For our recipe, you prepare the tagine base (a richly spiced tomato and chickpea stew), then add vegetables that have been roasted separately. Because roasting intensifies the flavor of vegetables, this results in a much tastier dish. So, although the preparation isn’t traditional, the flavor sure is.
We use a couple of Roast Sweet Potatoes and a small or medium head of Roast Cauliflower that we’ve prepared ahead of time. But you can use almost any vegetables you fancy. And exact quantities are not critical.
The base for this dish is a spicy tomato sauce that contains onions and jalapeño peppers. Chickpeas add protein and extra flavor. We finish the dish with some quickly cooked green beans (peas would work too).
This is recipe is intended to be a main-course dish (and it’s really a complete meal). But if you want a bit more, just add some crusty bread and a salad.
Prep time for this dish is about half an hour. Roasting the veggies takes 30 to 45 minutes (depending on how hot you set the oven). Preparing the sauce and finishing the dish takes about 45 minutes.
This recipe yields about 8 main-course servings. Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
For the roast vegetables:
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 1 small or medium head of cauliflower
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste (maybe 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, total; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (maybe ¼ teaspoon)
- cayenne pepper to taste (optional; ¼ to ½ teaspoon)
- 1 large onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or other oil of choice)
- salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
- water (about 3 cups; see Step 5)
- ~12 ounces green beans
- juice of 1 lemon
- parsley or cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Roast the sweet potatoes and cauliflower according to the recipes linked in the headnote. Basically, all roast veggies are prepared the same way: Wash and peel the vegetables if necessary, then cut them into appropriately sized serving pieces. Toss the veggies with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Scatter the vegetables on a baking sheet (cleanup is easier if you line the sheet first with aluminum foil). Roast the veggies in a pre-heated oven at a fairly high heat (350 to 500 degrees F). After the veggies have roasted for 20 minutes, turn them over, season with cayenne pepper if desired, and continue roasting until done (timing depends on how hot your oven is and what particular veggie you’re using; typical total roasting time is 30 to 45 minutes). Remove the roasted veggies from the oven and set them aside until ready to use. We generally roast vegetables a day ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator.
- Start the tomato base for the tagine: Peel the onions and cut them into ½-inch dice. Peel the garlic and cut it into thin slices or mince it finely. Wash and dry the jalapeño peppers (if using), then cut off their stem ends. Cut a few slices of pepper and set them aside for garnish, if desired. Slice the remaining peppers in half lengthwise. With a teaspoon, scrape out the seeds and ribs. Cut the peppers into fine dice (careful, the jalapeño oil is hot, so keep fingers away from your eyes). Set aside. Now wash your hands with soap and water to remove the spicy oil.
- Place a wide-based Dutch oven (one that holds at least 5 quarts) on medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the olive oil. When heated (it’ll shimmer), add the chopped onions. Season with salt to taste. Sauté for 5 minutes. Then add the chopped garlic and jalapeño and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste to the onion mixture and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the paprika, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne to the onion mixture. Add the can of diced tomatoes. Open the cans of chickpeas, then drain them and rinse off the gunk they’re stored in. Add the chickpeas to the cooking pot. Add enough water to make a thick sauce – usually 2 to 4 cups.
- Cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, wash the green beans and snap off the stem ends if necessary.
- After the tomato sauce has cooked for 20 minutes, add the roast vegetables and the green beans to the cooking pot. Stir to combine. Cook for another 20 to 30 minutes. Squeeze a lemon, add its juice to the tagine, and stir in.
- Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve. We like to garnish each serving with sliced jalapeño peppers and/or chopped parsley or cilantro.
- Instead of adding the green beans in Step 7, we sometimes steam them separately, then add them to the tagine 5 minutes before serving. That way, the green beans retain their bright color.
- Alternatively, you could roast the green beans and add them with the other roast veggies (they have wonderful flavor when roasted).
- For this dish, you can use just about any roast vegetable that sounds good to you. Summer or winter squash would be awesome. Roasted bell peppers would be good. Or maybe roast eggplant. If you want a “meatier” flavor, try adding some portobello mushrooms.
- You could also skip roasting the veggies and make this tagine the traditional way. If you want to go that route, here’s how: Wash the veggies and cut them up. Add them to the tomato sauce when you add the chickpeas (Step 5), then cook until the vegetables are tender.
- We serve this dish “neat,” as Moroccan cooks do (they typically serve it with bread to scoop up the tagine – the bread serves as silverware). But you could also serve this dish over couscous, polenta, rice, or noodles.
- We like the hint of acid that lemon juice delivers in this dish. You could substitute vinegar if you prefer.
- Or skip the acid entirely. But remember that a touch of acid makes the dish taste “brighter” and sharpens the flavor, much as salt does.
- Speaking of salt, we use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the flakes are larger and coarser, so it packs a measure less tightly). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- Programming Note: We’re taking several weeks off for vacation. So we won’t be posting (or visiting other blogs) for a while. We’ll be back on the last Wednesday of November with a new recipe. Happy Halloween and Thanksgiving, everyone!
Ship of Fools
“Love this dish,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Loads of flavor, and fun to serve to company.”
“Yup,” I said. “Good thing this recipe makes a lot. Our readers will be able to live off the leftovers while we take some down time.”
“And what down time it is,” said Mrs K R. “We’ll be cruising from Hawaii to Tahiti. With a visit to Bora Bora.”
“Always wanted to see it,” I said. “And now we will.”
“Loads of good food onboard ship,” said Mrs K R. “Wine and cocktails too. We might discover some new Tiki drinks.”
“And maybe get some new ideas for a pupu platter while we’re in Hawaii,” I said.
“Research at its finest,” said Mrs K R. “In paradise!”
In our case, make that Fool’s Paradise.
See you in late November!
You may also enjoy reading about:
Moroccan Beef Tagine
Moroccan Kefta and Tomato Tagine
Roast Sweet Potatoes
Couscous with Dried Fruit
Pumpkin Ravioli with Herbal Butter Sauce
Mushroom and White Bean Ragout
Easy No-Stir Oven Polenta
Or check out the index for more