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01 May 2010

Bright and Tasty Vegetable Stew

The idea for this dish is from a Moroccan tagine. Something that I have never actually eaten, unfortunately, but I saw this recipe for a lamb tagine with all these different vegetables, and I really wanted to try it. We were feeding the missionaries, and what better time to experiment with crazy food than when you have a captive audience, right? Actually, I get super nervous about cooking for other people, start thinking too much and second guessing myself, so maybe not the best idea after all.

The original recipe is from a cookbook I got at the library, "The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent" by Jessica B. Harris. It calls for lamb, carrots, turnips, eggplants, calabash squash (like a pumpkin) and zucchini, along with spices, of course. That combination of vegetables seemed a little more autumnal that I wanted, so I did something a little different, and hopefully still preserved the spirit of the thing. I meant to serve it with couscous, but apparently I didn't have any couscous. It was really good with the rice that I cooked instead with vegetable stock and a little cardamom. You could of course add meat, beef or lamb would be good, brown them to start with in olive oil and spices, then add the vegetables as directed. Or you can grill your favorite meat and serve it on the side, in case you are feeding a vegetarian. Pesky vegetarians.

Vegetable Tagine 
olive oil for sautéing
5-6 carrots, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 onion, chopped not too small
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, roughly chopped 
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
5 or 6 cardamom seeds, or about 1/4 tsp. fresh ground cardamom
pinch saffron (optional)
3 sweet bell peppers, chopped into 1 inch chunks
3 zucchinis, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 - 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
6-8 sprigs cilantro, leaves coarsely chopped
6-8 sprigs parsley, leaves coarsely chopped

Sauté the carrots and the onion in olive oil for a couple of minutes, add cardamom, black pepper and saffron, half of the ginger. Add the bell peppers, and zucchinis  and stock. Simmer covered for 20-30 minutes, add the remaining ginger halfway through. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are soft and there is less liquid, it shouldn't be too dry, but it shouldn't be soupy at all. Add the chopped cilantro and parsley leaves, let simmer an additional 5 or so minutes. The colors of the vegetables should be bright and cheerful, and the flavor with the spices will be bright and cheerful, too. Serve along with rice or couscous flavored with cardamom or thyme.
Serves 6.

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