I will never forget the first time I ate at a Moroccan restaurant in Paris in 1992. For a girl who grew up in South Texas, my range of exotic cuisine at the time did not extend past Tex-Mex. But the complex flavors of the tagines – the Moroccan stews – with the ground cinnamon, ginger, cilantro and chiles astounded me, and I was hooked, returning with my roommate every Sunday when our host family took the day off. I especially loved heaping a pile of couscous on my plate and pouring the vegetables with the broth all over, enthralled by the tiny grains of semolina that seemed to have an endless ability to soak up every bit of liquid in the vegetarian Moroccan stew.
It is this memory that inspired me to go about developing a vegetarian Moroccan-style tagine, or stew, that is savory and slightly sweet with a hint of spice. Interestingly, the word tagine originates in North Africa and refers to the cone-like earthenware pot (similar to the one pictured below that can be found on Amazon), as well as to the stew-like dish that is slow cooked in said earthenware pot. The bottom of a tagine is a wide, shallow circular dish used for both cooking and serving, while the top of the tagine is distinctively shaped into a cone, the purpose of which is to return moisture to the base of the tagine.
While the tagine is a very cool presentation that would be great for entertaining, it is not necessary in order to make this Vegetarian Moroccan Stew. My recipe calls for a 7-8 quart heavy pot with a lid, or something similar you may have in your kitchen. The Vegetarian Moroccan Stew can be served as an entrée or a side dish to accompany roast chicken or beef. Enjoy and drop me a comment if you happen to try it! xoM
Vegetarian Moroccan Stew
- You will also need a 7-8 quart heavy pot with lid
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp harissa
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 12 oz. bag chopped butternut squash
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
- 2 cups cauliflower, chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes, or unitl softened. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Stir in the tomato paste, harissa, cinnamon, ginger, and 1/2 cup of the low sodium vegetable broth. Bring to a boil.
- Add the butternut squash, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, and remaining vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
- Add the cilantro and chickpeas (garbanzo beans), and season with salt and pepper. Serve atop a bed of couscous.