Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Try a Simple and Speedy Veggie Tagine

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Try a Simple and Speedy Veggie Tagine

Article excerpt

A brimming pot of hearty stew is a gift in so many ways. Its aroma lifts the spirits, reminding everyone who walks through the front door that they are finally home.

And given that it's made in a huge pot, it's an antidote to loneliness. It begs to be shared with your neighbors.

One of my favorite stews is a tagine (pronounced tah-JEEN). North African in origin, the dish gets its name from the unmistakable pot in which it traditionally is prepared. The vessel consists of a wide, shallow cooking pot (usually not more than a couple inches deep) and a tall conical cover. The cover gathers and cools the steam from the cooking ingredients so that it drips back into the dish. This allows cooks in hot, dry climates to cook with as little liquid as possible, yet still produce moist food. But don't worry if you don't own a tagine. In my kitchen, I make do with my trusty Dutch oven, which still does a respectable job.

The cooking technique is not unlike any stew you've probably made saute some aromatics, add the meat and/or vegetables, some kind of liquid, then simmer away. It's the spicing that sets a tagine apart.

Sweet cinnamon, warm ground ginger and a little peppery turmeric combine to form a perfume that transports you to the spice markets of Morocco. Sprinkle over some softly caramelized onions and garlic, add some tomatoes, briny olives and sweet currants, and the gray skies above you will give way to swaying date palms and sienna- tinted dunes.

If you've never made a tagine, this vegetable and chickpea version is a great first step. It cooks in less than an hour. Serve it over some couscous or alongside a loaf of warm, crusty bread.

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VEGETABLE TAGINE

Yield: 4 servings

1 large lemon, sliced into -inch rounds

cup lemon juice

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds

1 small sweet potato (about pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

1 small cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (about 2 cups)

2 teaspoons ground dry ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

teaspoon ground turmeric

Pinch of cayenne pepper

14 -ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1 cups water

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1-inch half moons

1 tablespoon dried currants

8 green olives, pitted and halved

Ground black pepper

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