It's hard to be in a bad mood when the freshly fallen snow makes my neighborhood look like a snow globe and I'm having vegetable tagine with cilantro-mint charmoula over a bed of saffron couscous for dinner. This cold weather begs for a comforting, piping hot meal filled with spice, tang, and sweetness. After all the Thanksgiving leftovers were finished, I wanted to reset and go back to eating light, clean meals so when the Mister requested a meal with couscous, I instantly thought of this vegetable tagine.
Traditionally, tagine is a slow-simmered stew of meat and vegetables and cooked in a shallow, clay vessel called tagine. In the absence of a tagine, I use my dutch oven or a heavy-bottom pot to get comparable results. This vegetable tagine with cilantro-mint chermoula is a perfect vegetarian meal with the chickpeas acting as the protein. It is so hearty, you won't even miss the meat. Some of you will ask if this tagine can be made in a slow cooker, to which I say, I'm sure it can but it would miss out on the caramelization of the vegetables and spices and then the deglaze of the pot that adds a richness to the stew that the slow cooker cannot bring. That being said, if you're hard-pressed for time, throw it all in a slow cooker!This tagine starts with a medley of fresh vegetables which are caramelized until they become soft and sweet. The best part about these fresh vegetables is that they are customizable to your palate. I used red onions, red peppers, green peppers, carrots, cauliflower, and potatoes. But you can use whatever you have in your fridge. I also deglazed the pan with the juice of ½ a lemon mixed with my homemade chicken stock but vegetable stock can be subbed in just as well. Stock mixed with a little bit of lemon juice is similar to deglazing with wine and is a great substitute for alcohol-free cooking. And for those who are wondering, when you deglaze, you are using liquid to remove bits of food stuck to the pan, at a high heat, which allows the liquid to reduce almost instantly to create a thick, concentrated sauce.
Chermoula is a spicy, green sauce, similar to a chimichurri sauce and is traditionally used as a sauce or rub on meat, to give it color and flavor. This chermoula combines heat with the earthy flavors of mint and cilantro to cut the sweetness from the tomatoes and raisins in the tagine. The combination of the heat and sweet, mixed with the soft texture of the saffron couscous makes winter bearable. This chermoula stays good in the fridge for up to 5 days and is great on not just this vegetable tagine but on sandwiches, pastas, and I've even used it on my eggs in the morning. In other words, it won't last as long as you think it will.All of the ingredients are placed in a blender together, along with some good quality olive oil and the chermoula is good to go! In my hurry to get this recipe up, I forgot to take pictures of the couscous cooking! Couscous is so easy to make; easier than making rice. And it has a nice, nutty flavor that dances when paired with saucy dishes. The key is to make sure the liquid is at a rolling boil. Cooking the couscous in water is fine but I like to cook it in either chicken or vegetable stock so the grains can soak up all the wonderful flavors of the aromatics and herbs of the stock. Cover for five minutes and fluff with a fork before serving. How easy is that?!Print
Vegetable Tagine with Cilantro-Mint Chermoula and Saffron Couscous
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 1x
- For the Tagine:
- 1 cup red onion, chopped
- 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas or 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
- 1 28 oz can peeled whole tomatoes
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground corriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- juice of ½ lemon (¼ cup)
- 1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup raisins (optional)
- ¼ cup toasted slivered almonds, for garnish
- 1 cup water
- For Chermoula:
- 1 packed cup mint
- 1 packed cup cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1-3 tbsp good quality hot sauce (adjust to spice preference)
- juice of 3 lemons
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp salt
- For Couscous:
- 2 cups uncooked medium grade couscous
- 4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
- 5-7 strands saffron
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- make the tagine: Heat olive oil in a medium-sized dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and stir. Add carrots and red and green bell pepper and cook for an additionally 3-4 minutes. Add salt, paprika, turmeric, corriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and red pepper. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
- Mix lemon juice with stock, increase flame to high and drizzle in stock mixture into pot, using a spoon to scrape down the sides. Cook for 2 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates.
- Add tomatoes and mash with the back of a spoon to break up the tomatoes. Add chickpeas and mix well. Add honey and water. Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add potatoes and cauliflower, cover and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Stir in raisins and simmer for 2 more minutes. Take off heat.
- make the chermoula: Add the cilantro, mint,hot sauce, garlic cloves, salt, and lemon juice in a food processor. Turn the food processor on and slowly drizzle in the olive oil and blend well. Once the mint and cilantro have formed a sauce. and add water 1 tbsp at a time, until the sauce reaches desired consistency.
- make the couscous: In a medium pot, bring stock, olive oil, and saffron to a rolling boil. Stir to make sure saffron dissolves. Slowly add in couscous, stirring to make sure no clumps form. Turn off heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
- To serve: Layer couscous at the bottom of a wide bowl, add tagine, drizzle chermoula and top with slivered almonds.