In this Moroccan tagine recipe the vegetables are the hero. First roasted to intensify the flavours, then cooked in the tagine until soft and yielding. A wholesome and satisfying vegetarian dish for 4, or, a perfect vegetarian addition to a shared meal when entertaining.
- 1.2 kg pumpkin, peeled and cut into pieces 5 cm x 3 cm
- 3 small fennel bulbs, cut into 8
- 2 eggplants, not too large, cut into pieces 5 cm x 3 cm
- ½-¾ cup olive oil (don't try to economise on this, you may need even more)
- 1 dash tabasco sauce
- sea salt and freshly ground black or white pepper
- 950 ml vegetable stock, either homemade or made with Marigold Bouillon Powder (see Note)
- 1 fat pinch saffron
- 8 French shallots, left whole or cut in half depending on size
- 8 garlic cloves, 6 peeled but left whole, the rest finely chopped
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp sweet paprika
- ½ long red chilli, finely chopped
- 200 g organic chickpeas, soaked overnight and boiled till tender
- 1 handful parsley
- 1 handful coriander
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Baste the pumpkin, fennel and eggplant generously in olive oil, season with tabasco, salt and pepper. The eggplant and pumpkin can go in the same tray, but ideally the fennel should go in separately as it may take a little longer. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until tender, golden and slightly charred all over.
Meanwhile, bring stock to the boil in a saucepan. Combine 250 ml of hot stock with the saffron and set aside. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the shallots on quite a high heat for about 10 minutes, moving the pan about to prevent burning, till they are transparent and a rich gold. Then add the whole garlic cloves and sauté again adding a little stock to prevent them from burning.
Add the cumin and paprika, stirring all the time and another ladle of stock. The spices should start to form a paste with the stock and the shallot's emerging juices. Keep stirring while adding the stock a little at a time, the sauce will become thicker and richer as it absorbs the spices and the shallots collapse and some all but dissolve.
If using a tagine (see Note), transfer this rich and unctuous sauce to it.
Set on a heat diffuser placed on a gentle heat and carefully transfer the roasted vegetables, layering them with the firmer fennel on the bottom, then the pumpkin and finally the eggplant.
Reheat the saffron stock, pour over and gently stir through the chickpeas. It's quite OK for some of the pumpkin and eggplant to break up a little and add to the rich body of the tagine.
Cook gently like this for about 10-15 minutes, adjusting the heat as you see fit, increasing it if the liquid seems at all watery, or decreasing it if seems too thick. You can also add a little more stock to keep the whole thing moving - neither too dry, nor too wet is the way and keep basting the vegetables with what should now be a velvety and full bodied sauce.
Season with salt and pepper. Chop the parsley and coriander and add just before serving to maintain, their lively, herbacious freshness.
Serve with chermoula and fried flour tortillas.
Marigold Bouillon Powder is available from health food stores.
If your tagine is unglazed, it's wise to take the precautionary step of soaking it overnight in the water to make sure it doesn't crack.