Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Vegetarian tagine with couscous and hummus

Roasted vegetables are one of those unique ingredients in a meal I find - they drag even the most bland or plastic 'panini' or salad right up into the higher echelons in one move. So what happens when you take a holy combo of red pepper, parsnip, carrot and red onion, roast them until they're sweet and caramelized, put them in rich, heavily spiced tomato sauce and serve with couscous and hummus? Good things happen, that's what.
 So: technically it's a vegetarian tagine. Extremely straightforward and brilliant for leftovers, plus (of course) is a seriously tasty meal. It's also low-cal if you care about that sort of thing.  It's a very straightforward tagine, doable by anyone. Cheap too, so what's not to love? (Apart from the fact it isn't terribly beautiful.
Admittedly, this isn't exactly seasonal, but do you have any idea how many times I've been caught in a moody downpour this month on my way back from work? This is ideal grumpy-comfort food, simple to make, warming from the inside out without the guilt of a pizza binge. The opposite, even - the original recipe actually informs me that this gives you your entire five-a-day in one handy meal.
Perfect for rubbish rainy June evenings, Sunday nights or whenever you want something hot and comforting without lots of effort. This is also pretty great if you're trying to serve a large group of people, given it's basically a quick stew. And feel free to replace the veggies - sweet potato in place of peppers would be nice, or courgette (although do adjust roasting times.) This would also be a wonderful side-dish for any Moroccan spread a treat, so if you feel like being extra creative, serve with falafel, lamb, pitta, salad, mint yoghurt, chicken in harissa, coriander-spiced meatballs... the list is endless. 
Vegetarian tagine with couscous and hummus (serves 2 with leftovers)

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 small parsnips
  • 2 small red onions or 1 big one
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • Handful of dried apricots (I chop mine, you can leave them whole if you prefer - you can see them in the bag in the photo)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chilli powder/flakes
  • 2 tsp honey

Plus 150g couscous and pot of hummus, to serve.
It's a very simple recipe. Chop up all your veg into even sized chunks, spread across two or three roasting tins. You can put them all in one, if you like, but crowded veg won't roast properly.  Leave the onion in about 8 wedges, though - not too small.Drizzle with a little olive oil, ensure evenly coated (try not to disturb the red onions from their wedge-shape, I find they dry out terribly when separated into thin strips.) Put into oven on a high heat, around 200C, for 20 to 30 minutes, taking it out to shake the veg and check on it occasionally. When the veg is roasted to your liking, remove from the oven.
Next, put a tablespoon of oil in a sauce pan, and add your spices. The amount I use is a lot higher than the recipe suggests, but I find it's far tastier this way - nothing worse than an under-seasoned meal! Stir the spices into a paste on a medium heat, until very fragrant, then add your apricots, honey and then your tomatoes. Refill half the tin with water, give a shake, and add to the tomatoes and spices mix on the stove. Turn  up to the boil, then reduce to a simmer until it thickens to your liking.

Adding the veg to the thickened spicy tomato sauce
Around this point, you can make some couscous. Everyone has their own recipe, but for me I like to fry a knob of butter in a pan, add two crushed cloves of garlic for a few moments, then add a shake of cumin or paprika. Then add 120g of couscous (for two) with 150ml of water, and crumble in half a vegetable stock cube. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and take off the heat. Fluff with a fork five minutes later, after the water has been absorbed. When the tomato sauce has thickened enough, add your roasted vegetables until heated through, then serve and enjoy! If you have a sprig of coriander floating about, it probably wouldn't go amiss, for garnishing purposes either. 

Credit where credit is due: BBC Good Food

1 comment:

  1. I tried this a couple of days ago and it is deliciously simple, even with my somewhat cack-handed kitchen skills!
    I definitely agree with you upping the quantities of spices; they balance so well with the sweetness of the apricots and honey. Not to mention how amazing it smells on reheating (as others in the office mentioned when I heated some leftovers for lunch today).
    This is a ridiculously good comfort food, thank you for the recipe.


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