Eggplant and Fennel Lasagna

Rainy day, lazy mood and some rogue veggies scattered in the fridge can only mean one thing. Order takeout! Kidding. I hardly ever order takeout, instead I’d rather channel my inner top chef and get creative. Keep Reading!

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Simple Is Good: Ceci e Scarole (Chickpeas and Greens)

A staple on Pugliese tables Fave e Chicoria, a puree of fava beans topped with wilted chicory is a fundamental farm style meal that’s cooked in country kitchens from the hill towns scattered throughout Italy. Keep Reading!

Slurp, Slurp

Slurp your way to warmth and health with this nourishing Asian-inspired soup. Don’t be afraid to stray from the recipe; open your fridge, use what’s on hand and experiment! If you’re a meat-eater go ahead and replace the tofu with free range pork, stir fried until brown and crispy. No watercress? Try spinach or another leafy green. Use what you have on hand and don’t worry you can’t go wrong with this soup! Keep Reading!

Kale Chips

Who can resist salty, crunchtastical snacks?!

Kale has been in the limelight as a healthy and versatile superfood and it’s staked a prominent presence in the chip world—kale chips are popping up in restaurants and hitting grocery store shelves. But you don’t have to go out or splurge on a fancy bag of prepackaged kale, satisfy your salt fix with a little DIY up in your kitchen!

Homemade kale chips are economical, amazingly simple to prepare and you control the ingredients. Try any kale you please—curly kale, Tuscan kale, Red Russian kale, and don’t even think about throwing out those beet greens, turn them into salty, crunchy chips! Customize your kale with seasonings such as curry, nutritional yeast, sesame seeds, infused olive oil or freshly grated Parmesan.  Go ahead get crazy with kale!

Before you begin crispifying your kale, I will let you in on a secret to successful crunchiness—you will need this gadget: Misto Olive Oil Mister or as I refer to it, a MOOM!

So, find yourself a MOOM, follow the instructions and get misting!

Kale-2.0PicMonkey Collage

Kale Chips
Serves 4-6

2-3 heads of Kale
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Parchment Paper
MOOM (Misto Olive Oil Mister)

De-stem KalePreheat oven to 275°F

Wash and remove the tough stems from the kale.  I find the most efficient way to de-stem kale is to grab the bottom of the stem with one hand while sliding your other hand along the stem, easily pulling the leaf away.

Next line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread the kale leaves onto the parchment lined baking sheet.  Mist with olive oil and season with sea salt. Flip the leaves over and repeat on the other side.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for about 20 minutes (I flipped my kale over about half way through to ensure even cooking)

Enjoy warm or cool.  Keep fresh in a Tupperware container for a few days.

Smashed Avocado and Chickpea Salad

If you are akin to me then lunch is something to look forward to, a mid-day stretch for the mind and energizing the belly. I’m not one who can handle the doldrums of eating the same peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch everyday and feel that a packed lunch should be something to look forward to, it should inspire and satisfy.  Get creative, re-purpose leftovers and pack a lunch that excites you!

This electrifying green salad is great for perking up a brown bagged lunch.  Versatile in use, it can be used as a sandwich filling or dip for veggies and pita chips.  Light up your day with a Smashed Avocado and Chickpea Salad Sandwich.

Smashed Avocado and Chickpea Sandwich

Smashed Avocado and Chickpea Salad 

1 (15oz) can chickpeas 
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bread of your choice 
Fresh spinach/lettuce leaves or other fave sandwich toppings

***I’ve also substituted parsley for the cilantro and lemon juice for the lime juice which is equally GOOD!

1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas. 

2. In a medium bowl, using a fork or potato masher smash together the avocado and chickpeas. Add in cilantro, green onion, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

3. Spread salad on bread and top with your favorite sandwich toppings. 

Note: This salad also makes a great dip served with veggies, crackers, or pita chips. It is best eaten the day it is made because it can turn brown due to the avocado.  If you do make it the night before I’ve had success in maintaining a vibrant green hue by  placing the salad in a glass Tupperware dish and covering with plastic wrap (not the top of the container but actually compressing the plastic wrap atop the salad) this seals out any air which oxidizes the avocado causing it to turn brown, then cover with a Tupperware lid and refrigerate.

Seitan Shiitake and Leek Roast with Chickpea Gravy

Having had a successful first attempt at seitan I decided to venture from the cutlet onto something bigger—a roast, and a stuffed roast at that!  I followed Isa Chandra’s recipe from PPK to a T and it turned out wonderfully. A nicely, browned, seitan roast stuffed with meaty mushrooms, herbs, and leeks.  The roast solo is a bit dry for my taste so I paired it with Isa’s Chickpea Gravy, lending some moisture to the seitan.

Recipes with lots of steps seem to discourage people from trying, deeming them too difficult. I urge to you give this a try, it’s not complicated, pinky promise!  I’m already brainstorming new stuffing and marinade ideas for my next seitan roast.

Seitan Shiitake and Leek Roast
Seitan Shiitake and Leek Roast

The photo above depicts the steps:
1. Roll out the seitan into a rectangular-ish shape (it doesn’t have to be perfect) placing the stuffing at the bottom third
2. Roll the bottom part of the seitan up and over the filling. Keep rolling until in it’s in a log shape. Pinch together the seam and pinch together the sides to seal
3. Use 2- 18″ pieces of tin foil, laying them out horizontally in front of you. The sheet further from you should overlap the closer sheet by about 6 inches. This way you have enough foil to wrap around the whole roast
4. Place the seitan roast in the center of the tin foil and roll it up like a tootsie roll

Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leeks
by IsaChandra

There are a few recipe notes before you begin:

~For best results, use a salty homemade vegetable broth. Salt is integral to the flavor of the seitan, so if your broth isn’t seasoned then add a teaspoon or so of salt to it.

~You’ll also want to spoon broth over the roast before serving, to keep it from being dry. Of course you’re going to be coating it in gravy, too. But the broth is a nice touch. If you’re slicing and serving, ladle on spoonfuls of broth on each individual slice, too. You can’t have too much juice, here!

~This roast reheats perfectly. Refrigerate in its wrapper for up to 3 days before hand. When ready to serve, preheat an oven to 350 F and cook for 20 minutes. This will dry it out a bit, so use the broth hints above for sure!

~Use a steak knife for the easiest slicing.

~I used panko breadcrumbs but if you use homemade, use 3/4 cup.

~This makes enough for 6 hungry people. If it’s not Thanksgiving or another holiday, and people are not totally stuffing their faces, it serves at least 8.

For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (rough ends removed)
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into thin half moons
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the roast
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained (fresh or canned)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed or finely chopped
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
1 teaspoon dried sage, crushed between your fingers
Several dashes fresh black pepper

First prepare the filling:
Preheat a large pan, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and leeks in oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, garlic and thyme. Cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring often.

Sprinkle in the breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Cook the mixture, stirring very often, until the breadcrumbs are toasty and the mixture is relatively dry. This should take about 5 minutes, and the breadcrumbs should turn a few shades darker.

Drizzle in the broth and lemon juice and toss to coat until moist. If it still seems dry drizzle in a little extra olive oil. Set aside until ready to use.

Prepare the roast:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until well chopped. Add the beans, broth, olive oil and soy sauce and puree until mostly smooth (a few pieces of bean are okay, but they should be no bigger than a pea.)

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, herbs and spices. Make a well in the center and add the bean mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts coming together to form a ball of dough. Knead until everything is well incorporated.

Now we’re going to roll out the seitan and form the roast. Place two pieces of tin foil (about 18 inches long) horizontally in front of you. The sheet further from you should overlap the closer sheet by about 6 inches. This way you have enough foil to wrap around the whole roast.

On a separate surface, use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the seitan into a roughly 12 x 10 rectangle. If any pieces rip, don’t worry about it, just use a pinch of dough from the ends to repair any holes.

Place the filling in the lower 1/3 of the seitan rectangle, leaving about 2 inches of space at both ends. Make sure the filling is compact, use your hands to form it into a nice, tight bundle.

Now roll! Roll the bottom part of the seitan up and over the filling. Keep rolling until in it’s in a log shape. Now pinch together the seam and pinch together the sides to seal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it will snap into shape when baking.

Place the roll in the center of the tinfoil and roll up like a tootsie roll, making sure the ends are tightly wrapped. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for an hour*. Rotate the roll every 20 minutes for even cooking.

Remove from oven and let cool. Unwrap, spoon vegetable broth overtop, slice and serve!

Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leek with Chickpea Gravy
Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leek with Chickpea Gravy

Chickpea Gravy
by Isa Chandra

makes about 3 cups

1/4 C all-purpose flour
Approximately 2 1/2 C water
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, quartered and sliced thin
2 tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 C cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, rinsed and drained
2 pinches ground cumin
2 pinches paprika
1 pinch dried rosemary
1 pinch dried thyme
1 pinch dried oregano
1 pinch dried coriander
3 Tbs soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 C nutritional yeast

Mix the flour with 2 cups of water until the flour is mostly dissolved. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onions and mustard seeds; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are browned and the mustard seeds are toasted. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more.

Add the chickpeas; use a potato masher to mash them — you don’t want to mash them into a paste, just make sure each one is broken up although if there are a few whole ones left, that is ok. Add the herbs and spices, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits of onion.

Lower heat and pour the flour mixture into the pan. Stir constantly until a thick gravy forms. Stir in the nutritional yeast. If it looks too thick and pasty, add more water and mix well. It may look like it doesn’t want any more water added to it, but just keep mixing and it will loosen up. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Meat-less Meatloaf Muffins Topped with Kale Mashed Potatoes

Finger food isn’t only for kids, grab ahold of these muffins and channel your inner-child! Fun to eat and easy to pack and reheat for a brown bagged lunch, you’ll be thinking of ways to mini-mize all of your favorite foods.

Meat-less Meatloaf Muffins

Meat-less Meatloaf Muffins Topped with Kale Mashed Potatoes

Meat-less Meatloaf Muffin

The inspiration for these meat-less meatloaf muffins came from The Sweet Life—a blog filled vegan delights. You can follow The Sweet Life’s Recipe which is equally good, topped with pureed butternut squash.  I’ve played around with toppings and tried a mashed sweet potato one which I threw into the”do not keep pile,” however the kale mashed potatoes are definitely a “keeper!”

Meat-less Meatloaf Muffins Topped with Kale Mashed Potatoes

Meat-Less Meatloaf from The Sweet Life:
1 cup brown lentils, dry
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp liquid smoke
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup red onions, diced
1/3 cup green pepper, diced
1 (6) ounce can tomato paste
1 cup walnuts
2 tbsp chick pea flour
salt and pepper to taste

Kale Mashed Potatoes
this may be halved or enjoy extra mashers
3lbs potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
1 bunch of kale
1 Tbs. coconut oil
4Tbs butter
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1 -1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
1 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F

For the Meat-less Meatloaf:
Rinse the lentils. In a medium pot combine lentils with vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking until lentils are soft (about 45 minutes). Add Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small pan heat vegetable oil. Saute onions and peppers over medium high heat for 5 minutes, until cooked. Stir together onion mixture, lentils, and tomato paste. In a food processor blend together walnuts and chick pea flour until combined. Add the lentil mixture and mix until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop lentil/walnut mixture into muffin tins, filling to the top. Bake for 20-23 minutes until edges brown and begin pulling away from the edge. It’s okay if it’s still a little underdone on the inside, it will harden as it sets.

Let cool in muffin tins at least 20 minutes. When ready to serve, release by running a knife around the edge.

Top the muffins with the Kale Mashed Potatoes either with a piping bag or a big spoon/ice cream scoop works just as well!

For the Kale Mashed Potatoes:
Prep all of your ingredients, wash, de-stem and chop the kale.  Chop the shallots, mince garlic and wash and cut your potatoes in half. Peeling of the potatoes are optional, I leave the skin on, as it gives the dish a more rustic look, saves on prep time and gives the dish more fiber. Put the potatoes into a large pot and cover them completely with tepid water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes. 

While the potatoes cook, heat the 1-teaspoon coconut oil in a sauté pan set over medium-low heat, and sauté the shallots and garlic until softened, 1 to 2 minutes and then add the kale until it softens yet still vibrant green (another minute or so.) Set aside.
When the potatoes are tender, drain them and return them to the pot.  Add to the potatoes the shallots, garlic, kale, butter and greek yogurt.
Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes together with the liquid ingredients until you get a smooth consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Bahn Mi

The title may say breakfast but this bahn mi can be enjoyed at any meal.

The bahn mi is synonymous with the submarine sandwich, hailing from Vietnam. It was born when the French introduced the baguette to the country; a salad sandwich on crusty bread filled with greens, pickled vegetables, chiles, and tofu, seafood or meat.

Don’t skimp out on the Star Anise Daikon Pickles they make this sandwich!  The day before you make the bahn mi take 15min to prepare the daikon pickles:

Star Anise Daikon Pickles
Star Anise Daikon Pickles

For the Star Anise Daikon Pickles:
From Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero

1/2 pound daikon radish (about one slender 10 inch radish)

1/4 pound carrots (about 2 large carrots)

6 large green jalapeño or serrano chilies, stems removed

1 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, black or mixed color

4 whole star anise

Make the pickles ahead of time:

Peel daikon and carrots and slice into thin long matchsticks no thicker than 1/4 inch: I use a mandolin for this but you can take your time and use a chef’s knife. Or even better, use a Y-shaped julienne peeler. Slice the chilies in half, remove the seeds (or keep them in for really hot pickles), and slice into very thin slivers. Toss everything together and pack into a clean, dry 1 pint glass mason jar.

In a small saucepan bring to a gentle boil the vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns and star anise and boil for 2 minutes. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt and then pour everything over the vegetables in the jar, including the star anise and peppercorns. Cover very tightly and chill for 30 minutes before using. Keep tightly covered and chilled when not using.

Bahn Mi
Bahn Mi

It may look like a lot of steps but this sandwich comes together quickly and it’s just too darn amazing to pass up!  I promise your taste buds with thank you—now onto the Bahn Mi:

Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Bahn Mi
From Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero
Makes Four 8-inch, overstuffed sandwiches

For the tofu:

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced

3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots

4 scallions, white and green parts divided and sliced very thin

4 cloves garlic, peeled and mince

1 pound firm or extra firm tofu, drained

1/2 cup vegetable broth

3 tablespoons soy sauce (preferably Thai thin soy sauce ) or tamari

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 teaspoon curry powder, any variety

For assembling:

4 six to eight inch crusty sandwich rolls or sliced from 2 baguettes

Vegan mayonnaise

Cilantro springs

Thin slices of ripe tomato

Paper thin slices of red radish or matchsticks of daikon or jicama

Asian garlic chili sauce (such as Sriracha or sambal oelek)

Make the sandwich:

Heat a wok or cast iron skillet until nearly smoking, then sauté mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of oil until tender and browned, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from wok, wipe down the surface and add remaining oil. Add the shallots and stir-fry until golden, about 4 minutes, then add white parts of scallion and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Crumble in tofu, add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Whisk together vegetable broth, soy sauce, lime juice, coriander, white pepper, and curry powder and pour over tofu. Use a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir fry tofu until all of the liquid has been absorbed and tofu is golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Tofu should be moist, but not wet. Add the green tops of the scallions, fry for another minute and remove from the heat.

Slice rolls in half and toast if desired. Spread insides with mayo and distribute the tofu evenly on the sandwiches. Top each sandwich with cilantro, tomato, radish, chili sauce, and daikon pickles if using. Eat immediately but over a plate…these are messy goodness.

Spaghetti and “Beanballs”

Aha! A vegetarian meatball that holds itself together, this is good news!
Spaghetti and “Beanballs” makes for a great weeknight meal that can be made ahead and reheated to serve. I’m looking forward to noshing on this protein and fiber-rich dish after my run tonight.

An added benefit to these balls is that you can play with them—okay that was awful humor but really, change the type of beans, herbs and seasonings  to create new dishes! Think, black beans with a Latin flair e.g. green onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and mango or Mediterranean style with chopped kalamata olives, parsley, lemon juice and sumac—possibilities!

Raw "Beanballs", Cooked "Beanballs" and Spaghetti + "Beanballs"
Raw “Beanballs”, Cooked “Beanballs” and Spaghetti + “Beanballs”

Spaghetti and Beanballs
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cans of White Beans, drained
1 1/2-2 Roasted Red Peppers, diced
1 Yellow Onion, grated
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 c. chopped Parsley
1 c. Panko Bread Crumbs (if you find the bean mixture to be too wet, add more breadcrumbs)
1  Egg
1 Tbsp. Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
Your favorite Marinara Sauce-25oz Jar
Parmesan Cheese for grating
Spaghetti Noodles

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a baking sheet.  If you have a food processor feel free to pulse the beans and roasted red peppers until finely chopped, otherwise in a flat-bottomed pan or skillet mash together the beans and roasted red peppers with a potato masher until you reach a chopped consistency.

Transfer this mixture to a medium-sized bowl and add the garlic, onion, bread crumbs, oregano, salt, pepper and egg.  Stir until combined.  Begin by taking about 2 Tablespoons of bean mixture and roll between your palms until a ‘ball’ shape is attained.  Line the beanballs on the prepared baking sheet, spaced evenly. Bake about 20 minutes or until the beanballs are golden in color and firm to the touch.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil to cook spaghetti noodles.

In a large skillet heat your fave marinara sauce over medium heat.  Add the beanballs to the skillet with the marinara and simmer until heated through 10-15 minutes.

When the noodles are al dente and ready to serve, dish out the spaghetti onto plates and top with the marinara and beanballs, then grate parmesan cheese atop and serve.

Black Bean + Avocado + Goat Cheese Tacos with a Hint of Honey-Lime

Black Bean, Avocado + Goat Cheese Tacos with a Hint of Honey-Lime
Black Bean, Avocado + Goat Cheese Tacos with a Hint of Honey-Lime

This taco recipe is simple, quick to prepare and satisfying.  Filled with real food and notes of sweet, sour and spicy paired with buttery textures of avocado and goat cheese.  The honey compliments the tangy-ness of goat cheese while the lime, coriander and cumin lend a zing to the palette.  This will be a go-to meal again and again.

Black Bean + Avocado + Goat Cheese Tacos with a Hint of Honey-Lime
adapted from Naturally Ella
serves 4

1 1/2 Tablespoons Ground Coriander
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
Generous pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Black Beans with liquid (can of beans)
2 Avocados, sliced
1/2 bunch of Cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 Lime
1 Tablespoon of Honey or Agave
3-4 oz Goat Cheese, crumbled
Corn or Flour Tortillas

Black Bean, Avocado + Goat Cheese Tacos with a Hint of Honey-Lime
Black Bean, Avocado + Goat Cheese Tacos with a Hint of Honey-Lime

*Optional brown rice to add to the tacos (Rice should be prepared ahead of time)

1. In a dry skillet, over medium heat begin by toasting the spices (coriander, cumin and crushed red pepper) until fragrant.  To the same skillet add the black beans with the liquid and garlic.  Over medium-low heat allow the beans, spices and garlic to cook together until the liquid has dissipated and the beans have thickened, about 10 minutes.  If you like your beans a bit mashed (which I do) grab your potato masher and smash some of the beans a bit.

2. While the beans are simmering, in a small bowl or pitcher whisk together the juice from the lime along with honey or agave, set aside.

3. Slice the avocado, chop the cilantro and crumble the goat cheese, set aside.

4. Just before the beans are done warm the tortillas for serving. This may be done over a gas burner flipping the tortillas over the flame until soft and warm or via the microwave.

5. To assemble tacos, place ¼ of the black bean mixture in the center of the tortilla (if using brown rice add this next), layer avocado, cilantro and crumbled goat cheese on top and lightly drizzle the lime honey/agave mixture over taco filling.

Tagine, Tajine

I am one who appreciates eclectic taste hence, identifying my love of collecting, antiquing and thrifting.  It takes a creative mind to repurpose an item, see past the junk to seek out the gems and have an appreciation for the ‘hunt’.  I enjoy antique shops, junk shops, estate sales, yard sales, thrift stores and great deals!  Really, who doesn’t!  With that I HAVE to share my latest great deal:

Estate sale
Le Creuset Tagine
Worth = $185
Paid = $12
Savings $173

My new Le Creuset Tagine

the kicker is that I have wanted a tagine but alas it didn’t fit the budget!

While I was walking around the estate sale with aching arms from the weight of cast iron, several people asked me just what it was, I was carrying.  I explained many times that it was a tagine receiving blank stares or replies of hmmmm.  I realized that not everyone loves cooking and perhaps not everyone enjoys global cooking or cooking methods, yet at that estate sale I think the tagine inspired some folks!

This is what that cone-shaped thing is and how it works:

The tagine is a cooking vessel and a name of the dish prepared in said cooking vessel.  Tagines are incredibly diverse in ingredients and spices and originated from all over North Africa.

The tagine is designed to trap and retain moisture within the conical shape allowing food to essentially be steamed, ensuring that it won’t dry out.  The shape of the tagine assists in creating very high cooking temperatures which help to caramelize and meld flavors together resulting in a rich stew.

Tagines incorporate vegetables, meats, nuts, fruit and spices to create a rich and seasoned stew.  There are meat and vegetarian tagines.  Meat tagines typically utilize tougher cuts of meats which become tender after hours of cooking and steaming.  Vegetarian tagines use chickpeas, root vegetables and legumes.

Tagines are typically served from the vessel and eaten with couscous, rice or bread.  Typical spices include cumin, saffron, paprika cinnamon, coriander and capsicum.  Regional tagines feature additions like various nuts, olives, preserved or salted lemons, prunes, dried apricots, golden raisins and pomegranate seeds.  These additions are typically added towards the end of cooking for an added texture or sweetness.

This recipe will be my first attempt at tagine cooking!

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Tagine by Katherine Martinelli

Author: Katherine Martinelli

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 35 mins

Total Time: 55 mins

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

This vegetable-packed tagine is hearty and aromatic. Dried apricots provide just a hint of sweetness and practically melt into the dish. The recipe makes plenty, and reheats beautifully.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 small onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
  • cup chopped dried apricots
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 20-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cups couscous
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1½ cups hot vegetable broth
  • Pomegranate seeds (optional)

METHOD:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet with lid over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the cumin, coriander, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, garlic, and tomato paste; cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
  3. Add the squash, sweet potato, carrots, and dried apricots and toss well to coat. Pour 2½ cups of the stock and the lemon juice over the vegetables and bring to a gentle simmer.
  4. Cook partially covered over a low heat for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas, parsley, and cilantro and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, put the couscous in a large baking dish and spread it into a thin, even layer. Pour over the boiling water and remaining 1½ cups broth and cover with a lid or tin foil. bring Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed into the couscous. Fluff gently with a fork.
  6. To serve, put the couscous on a large serving platter. Spoon the vegetable tagine on top. Garnish with additional chopped parsley and cilantro, plus pomegranate seeds if you like.

9/26/2012 Update:
This is how the tagine turned out (next time I may toss in some zucchini or spinach for color!)

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Tagine

A dish with no name

This is one of my go to meals for colder weather months or when I’m short of time….it doesn’t have a name but it’s really, really good!  Not too posh yet not lacking in taste, this dish dazzles by being bright, colorful, crunchy and filling.  I actually borrowed upon the idea from a restaurant down my street called, Gaia Cafe.  It’s a lovely little brunch spot with mismatched tables and chairs, you serve your own coffee and can watch your food being made.  They serve up vegetarian-fare subsisting mostly of stir-frys, scrambles and overall yummy hodgepodges.

Now on to how you make this thing!  Because it is a stir fry you can change-up the veggies, herbs or flavors as you wish and it makes for great leftovers too.

photo by michelle.

I use the following ingredients:

Garlic, chopped

Onion, chopped

Ginger, grated

Tamari

Oil (I like to use Sesame for a nice nutty taste)

Red Cabbage, chopped

Kale or Spinach, chopped

Cauliflower, florets

Broccoli , florets

Basmati Rice, 1-2 cups

Greek Yogurt, some dollops

A mild white cheese such as mozzarella, for garnish

Green Onion to garnish

Start by preparing the rice…you know the drill boil water, dump in rice, boil, put on lid and simmer until perfectly fluffy (oh if only it came out perfect every time!)

Then take a big skillet, season it with oil and saute the onion, few cloves garlic and 2 inch piece of grated ginger.  Then add vegetables beginning with the firmest such as; broccoli, cauliflower, then red cabbage, followed by kale/spinach.  Water will need to be added sparingly to help steam the vegetables (if you have a steamer or a make-shift steamer it is perfectly fine to just steam the veg) at this time shake some tamari on the veg for flavor.  I really like flavor so I may use a few more shakes.  Saute or steam the vegetables until crisp, tender.

Next you are ready to serve this deliciousness so grab some plates for whomever you are feeding.  Start with the rice, then pile on the sautéed vegetables, sprinkle on some mozzarella or other fave mild cheese, add a dollop of greek yogurt and garnish with chopped green onions.  For those who really like tamari leave the bottle on the table so that they may dash some on accordingly!

Maybe someday it will have a name.