Have you ever wondered what a tagine is? Is it a pot or is it a meal?
Well we’re going to show you how to make a butternut squash and courgette tagine so by the time you’ve made it you’ll know the difference.
And you’ll also have a delicious meal to celebrate your new found knowledge.
What Is A Tagine?
A tagine can be one of two things. In the first instance, it is a pot made of clay that has a flat circular base and a cone shaped lid. These pots originated in Morocco, North Africa.
Secondly, a tagine is a stew that is cooked in this pot. A typical tagine is a mixture of meat, fish or poultry and vegetables or fruit.
However, it can also be a stew made entirely of vegetables and so suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
The tagine cookware is intrinsic to the way in which the dish is cooked. Many of the pots are unglazed which allows an earthy flavor to develop.
Also the cone shaped top retains moisture so that during the slow cooking process the dish does not dry out.
Using A Tagine At Home
As you will be making this dish in a tagine there are a few things to consider first. If you have bought a new tagine that is unglazed you will need to prepare it before its first use.
This involves seasoning it by soaking and then oiling it. You will then need to bake it in the oven for a few hours to get rid of the clay-like taste. This process also strengthens the tagine.
Traditionally, a tagine is placed over hot bricks that slowly cook the food but using it in a modern kitchen will require some adaptation on your part. If you have a gas stove then just use the lowest temperature setting.
However, if you have an electric stove you will need to use a diffuser between the hob and the base of the tagine.
This is because the base of the tagine should not come into direct contact with the heat source. Alternatively, you can put your tagine into a low oven.
So now that you have done all the preparation of your tagine and decided how you are going to cook it we can get stuck into our recipe.
- ½ medium butternut squash
- 1 courgette
- 6 medium ripe tomatoes
- 3.5 oz kale
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp chili flakes or cayenne pepper
- pinch of saffron
- 4 cardamom pods
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 preserved lemon
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¾ tsp salt
- black pepper
- 2 tsp date syrup / nectar
- 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
- Prepare the vegetables by finely chopping the onion, garlic and also the preserved lemon. Peel and chop the butternut squash and courgette. Remove the tough stalks from the kale.
- Add the chopped onion in a layer in the bottom of the tagine. Then sprinkle over the chopped garlic.
- Pour the olive oil over the layer of onion and garlic. The oil will contribute to the thickness of the sauce.
- As there are a lot of spices it helps to mix them together in a bowl to ensure they are well combined, and so they are evenly distributed.
- Arrange the butternut squash, courgette, kale and chopped tomatoes in the base of the tagine. Sprinkle the spice mix over them and add the date syrup.
- Add the preserved lemon on top as well as the bay leaves as a garnish.
- You now have to add some water to the tagine so allow about a cupful. Pour it gently down the side of the base so as not to disturb the distribution of spices.
- Put the lid on the tagine and place on your gas hob or electric hob with diffuser. Turn the heat to low or medium. At this point you will need to be patient and wait for it to get to a simmer. Then you can reduce the heat and leave it to cook slowly.
- After a couple of hours check the liquid level, top up if needed and add the cooked chickpeas.
- Continue cooking for another 30 minutes until everything is cooked. Remove the lid and discard the bay leaves.
Traditionally a tagine is eaten communally from the pot with bread to soak up the sauce. However, you may want to serve it with some couscous or rice.
Is A Butternut Squash And Courgette Tagine Healthy?
Butternut squash is rich in vitamins and minerals and has loads of fiber. It contains powerful antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene.
Courgettes have high water content and as such do not have huge amounts of micronutrients. However, they are rich in vitamin C and have significant levels of potassium, both of which are essential for good health.
Tomatoes contain high amounts of lycopene which contributes to good heart health.
Are Tagines Vegan?
This recipe is 100% vegan and there are no animal products used in the recipe. Of course, tagines are often made with meat and their slow cooking method suits tougher cuts of meat (Here are some Vegan Ground Beef Recipes You Need To Try!).
When putting meat into a tagine it is normally placed in the center of the base and any vegetables stacked around it.
However, for vegetables the tagine allows the slow development of the sauce as well as gently cooking the vegetables.
Cooking a tagine in as close to the traditional way as possible will give you an authentic taste to your dish. Using the tagine may also be a fun new way of cooking and open up all sorts of possibilities for future dishes and recipes.
We hope you enjoyed cooking our butternut squash and courgette tagine and that you’ll share this new and exciting method of cooking with others.
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