After a mid-winter week of 40+ degree temperatures, we had snow yesterday. With more snow forecast for the rest of the week, seems like winter’s still here. Thus today’s a perfect opportunity to share this hearty, bone-warming and vegan Winter Vegetable Tagine aka Moroccan Winter Vegetable Stew with you.
This is the hand-painted tagine I’ve been eyeing for the last couple of months on the Williams-Sonoma website. I would have bought it except that it only has a one quart (4 cup) capacity and my recipe makes three quarts. And I surely want leftovers with a dish that requires 2 hours of slow-cooking.
Fortunately any heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid (such as an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven) delivers the same richly spiced and warming Winter Vegetable Tagine.
Yet, there’s something almost magical about the cone-shaped tagines. Just the thought of serving the stew at the table out of this beautiful pot keeps me coming back to the W-S webpage. I’ve come so close to buying it a number of times. Then reason takes over. I remember the small capacity and I sadly leave the page once again.
Ras El Hanout
This classic Moroccan spice blend, translated as “head of the store” brings North Africa to your kitchen with its rich aroma and well-balanced curry-like flavor. Spice merchant’s reputations depend on the quality of their Ras el Hanout. Some blends may include as many as 30 different herbs and spices and flowers.
I recently purchased the blend from Williams-Sonoma. I discovered it during one of my visits to their tagine page. Their Ras el Hanout includes paprika, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, cardamom, allspice, mace, white pepper, rosebuds, nutmeg, cloves, saffron, bay leaves.
My first whiff upon opening the jar instantly transported me back 40 years to the aromas of the small Moroccan restaurant in San Francisco where I first tasted Bastilla. (The down side of this memory has to do with the rather awkward eating of the hot, sticky (and delicious) foods with our fingers as they do in Morocco.) This is one powerful, heady blend of spices, aromas and memories.
Make your own
Ras el Hanout can easily be made at home from spices you may already have in your spice drawer. You’ll find a recipe from Epicurious.com at the end of this post. As an aside, I’ve recently discovered how much I like Ras el Hanout sprinkled on popcorn. Sooo tasty.
Winter Vegetable Tagine
aka Moroccan Slow-Cooked Winter Vegetable Stew
Warm, comforting, vegan and perfect for a winter’s day. Traditionally tagines are served over a bed of couscous. A bed of quinoa makes for a gluten-free alternative.
Makes about 12 cups
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 2 ¾ hours
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced pole-to-pole
2 cups carrots halved lengthwise, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cups celery halved lengthwise, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic crushed
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 cups (1 pound) winter squash peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups (scant 1 pound) small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and sliced ½-inch thick
2 cups (scant ¾ pound)) turnips, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
1½ tablespoons Ras el Hanout
¾ cup raisins
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
1 cup water or vegetable stock
½ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
¼ cup minced preserved lemons, optional
- Add oil to a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium high heat. Stir in the onion. Cover the pan and cook until the onion softens and becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the carrots, celery, garlic, ginger and salt and cook 5 minutes.
- Add the squash, potatoes and turnips. Toss the vegetables with the raisins, Ras el Hanout, cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices and the cup of water or vegetable stock.
- Bring to a boil. Cover the pot and lower the heat. Simmer the tagine without disturbing for 2 hours.
- Transfer the Winter Vegetable Tagine to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs and optional preserved lemons. Serve hot or at room temperature over a bed of couscous or quinoa.
Moroccan Ras El Hanout Spice Blend
Recipe from Epicurious.com
Active time: 5 minutes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients until combined well. Ras el Hanout can be mixed in advance and stored in an airtight container for about a month.