Saturday 13 October 2012

Autumn Vegetable Tagine

While I don't really want this to turn into a food blog, there's nothing like a great recipe to pull me out of blogging apathy and get me posting again, and this one, which began as a half-hearted attempt to use up some aging veg from the fridge while Eddie was working late last night and ended up one of the tastiest dishes I've cooked all year, is a cracker.

The onions and garlic are in and drying, the courgette plants are fruiting their last, and, even though my own crop failed completely, the shops are full of gorgeous pumpkins. (I find it so strange how they sell 'carving pumpkins' cheaper than the pumpkins in the vegetable aisle, don't you? They're just as good to eat! I love how you can get so many meals out of a £1.50 pumpkin!) With all these plus sweet potatoes and dried fruit, this Moroccan-influenced dish is absolutely seasonal, it's awesomely healthy, it's quick and easy to make, and the flavours... the flavours are aromatic, sweet and wonderful. Enjoy as a midweek family supper or posh it up for something more special. If you don't have harissa paste, flavour the couscous simply with lemon juice and seasoning, or add cumin, garlic, paprika and chilli to taste as a substitute.

Autumn Vegetable Tagine with harissa couscous
(serves four)
  • Fry one large chopped onion in a little oil until soft. Add 2-3 cloves chopped garlic and a tablespoon grated ginger, and soften for a minute or two.
  • Add a teaspoon each of cumin, ground coriander and cinnamon, then stir in two sweet potatoes, diced (approx 300g), and around 300g pumpkin or winter squash, diced.
  • Add four chopped tomatoes, a handful of sultanas (chopped dried apricots would also work nicely) and just enough vegetable stock to cover, and simmer around five minutes.
  • Add a courgette, diced, and simmer another ten minutes or so until all the veg are soft.
  • Meanwhile, put 200g couscous in a heatproof bowl. Mix a heaped tablespoon harissa paste with 400ml hot water, pour it over the couscous, and cover.
  • Toast a handful of flaked almonds in a dry frying pan until they're just turning golden brown here and there. Set aside.
  • Add a can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained, to the veg. Cook another couple of minutes to heat through. Check seasoning.
  • Sprinkle some lemon juice over the couscous and fluff up with a fork.
  • Serve the tagine with the harissa couscous, and topped with the almonds and some chopped parsley.

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