Vegetable Tagine is a vegetarian Moroccan stew loaded with heady warm spices. Make this with any veg you have – just don’t skimp on the spices!!
BUT still insanely tasty of course! And if it could also be made in one-pot, be super-easy, as well as super-quick … well that would be just dandy. 😂
Though I wouldn’t classify it as super-quick, calling for a good 45 minutes cook time to make the vegetables tender and absorb all those wonderful flavours, it’s certainly very easy.
So, this is the first recipe I’m delivering in response to reader demand!
Tagine is a Moroccan stew traditionally cooked in, well, a tagine. This is an earthenware cooking vessel with a cone shaped lid in which steam circulates as it cooks, letting the flavoured condensation drips back down into the stew.
But we’re using a good ole’ Dutch oven today. And it’s ok! 😉
Ingredients in Vegetable Tagine
When you see the load of spices in this, you know your tastebuds are in for a good time. But isn’t it nice when they’re all everyday spices you can find at the grocery store? 🙂
While this has a generous amount of spices in it, it’s not the kapow! flavour like you get in Indian curries. It’s more of a warm spice mix.
The cayenne does add a touch of fire, so just skip it if you don’t want any heat in it at all!
And here’s what goes in the Vegetable Tagine. This one’s all about using what you’ve got, so don’t be concerned if you don’t have all the vegetables!
Here’s what I used:
Chickpeas – This is the only starch in this dish, adding a nice nutty texture and bulks it out. Substitute with any other beans;
Lemon – For a fresh finishing touch, both the zest and juice;
Onion & garlic – The usual flavour base suspects; and
Vegetables – Here, butternut pumpkin/squash, capsicum/bell peppers, green beans, eggplant (aubergine), cauliflower and tomato (which sort of becomes part of the sauce). This is a nice combination of colours and textures that’s in season at the same time, making this a terrifically economical dish.
How to make Vegetable Tagine
A key step here to extract the most flavour out of each vegetable is to pan roast each vegetable individually to get some colour on them before simmering with heavily spice doused liquid. Because after all, as I always say, colour = flavour!
Saute onion and garlic first (our flavour base, as mentioned);
Pan-roast each vegetable individually, just to get some colour on them. We don’t cook them through, we just give them a blush of colour;
Cook the tomato for a minute. This effectively deglazes the pan (ie. gets all the tasty stuff off the bottom of the pan from sautéing the veg into our stew). Then add spices and cook for a minute to let the flavours bloom;
Add all the vegetables back in as well as water. (Yep, water, not stock. In a true tagine, all the flavour comes from the ingredients alone.) The water should almost cover the vegetables, but not quite, remembering that the vegetables will sink as they cook. If you add too much water, you’ll end up with a watery sauce;
Bring to a simmer;
Cook, covered, in the oven for 30 minutes. This is the easiest way, because it requires no stirring. You could also simmer on the stove over a super low heat, but stir gently so the vegetables don’t turn into mush;
Add the green beans and chickpeas, then simmer on the stove for 15 minutes to reduce the liquid. At this stage, the pumpkin and cauliflower are quite soft, partially breaking down, which helps thicken the liquid. It shouldn’t be soupy, but it should be brothy. Trust me when I say – you want that broth!!
Finally, stir through lemon zest and lemon juice. A fresh finishing touch works wonders here to lift and brighten the dish, as it does with many others from a Lentil Soup to Magic Broccoli (aptly named as such because it’s so simple but so good!).
I love how the broth is naturally thickened by the vegetables that are soft cooked so they ever so slightly disintegrate into the sauce. Flavour, flavour, flavour!
What to serve with Vegetable Tagine
For a traditional experience, serve with couscous. I’ve put the post up separately as it’s a handy and quick no-cook side dish for many dishes, not just Morrocan or Middle Eastern food.
With all the flavours going on in the tagine, a plain couscous would be just fine, but I’m not one to say no to a sprinkling of fresh herbs, or dried fruit and nuts!
Standalone – just a big bowl of this like a really chunky, hearty stew
Cauliflower rice (for a very big satisfying low-carb, low calorie meal!)
Homemade or store bought flatbreads for dunking
I’ve also added a dollop of yogurt, a nice and cooling, creamy touch that compliments the rich combination of spices nicely. A sprinkle of slightly predictable coriander/cilantro and a pinch of cayenne pepper for a dusting of extra spice. Because, well, why not? 😇 – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Tagine spice mix:
- 1 tbsp cardamom powder
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground fennel seeds / fennel powder
- 1 tsp cayenne (omit for non-spicy)
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
Tagine (Note 1):
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 red onion sliced; (sub any type of onion)
- 1 garlic clove , finely minced
- 800g/1.6lb butternut pumpkin / squash (1/2 a small), peeled, cut into 2.5cm / 1" cubes
- 1 small eggplant , cut into 2.5cm / 1/2″ cubes
- 1/2 cauliflower head , small, cut into bite size florets
- 1 capsicum / bell pepper , cut into 2.5cm / 1" pieces (red or yellow)
- 2 tomatoes , seeds removed, cut into 1cm / 1/3″ dice
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 400g/ 14oz canned chickpeas , drained
- 200g / 60z green beans , cut into 3.5cm / 1.5" pieces (~2 cups cut)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
Garnishes / for serving:
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds , toasted
- 1/4 cup coriander / cilantro , roughly chopped
- Plain yogurt
- Pinch of paprika or cayenne pepper
- Combine Tagine Spice Mix ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, heavy-based pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook until onion is wilted (~ 1 1/2 minutes), then remove to a large bowl. Scrape out any remaining garlic bits from pan (so they don't burn).
- Add pumpkin / squash and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until lightly golden on most sides. Remove to same bowl.
- Add 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook eggplant for 3 minutes until tinged with gold on most sides, remove to same bowl.
- Add 1 tbsp oil if pot is looking dry. Add capsicum and cauliflower, cook for 2 minutes until the cauliflower is a bit golden on the edges. Remove into bowl.
- Add tomato and cook for 1 minute. Add Spice Mix, stir for 1 minute.
- Add all vegetables back to pot. Add water (it should just about cover the vegetables, they will sink), salt and pepper. Stir, bring to simmer on stove, then transfer to oven for 30 minutes. (Alternatively simmer on low stove, but stir gently otherwise veg may breakdown too much.)
- Remove from oven, add beans and chickpeas. Simmer for 15 minutes uncovered on stove on medium-low to cook the beans and reduce the sauce.
- Stir through lemon juice and zest. The idea here is that some of the veg (butternut, cauliflower) breaks down a bit to slightly thicken the sauce. It also gets thicker left overnight.
- For a traditional experience, serve over couscous. Otherwise, try white, brown, or basmati rice, or quinoa. Or, serve just as is like a chunky stew. For a low-carb option try cauliflower rice! I like to top mine with a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkle of almonds, coriander/cilantro and a pinch of paprika or cayenne.
Life of Dozer
Really doesn’t like his daily post-beach showers. Kind of ironic, isn’t it, that he spent the last hour swimming?