The word tagine refers to both a gently simmered North African stew and the conical cooking vessel used for stewing meats and vegetables in their own juices. Serve this sweet-spiced stew of eggplant and golden squash over couscous with a dab of harissa, the fiery Moroccan chile paste. Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that gives stews and tagines a complex flavor. If you don’t have any on hand, substitute cumin and coriander in equal amounts. Preserved lemon, available in jars at markets that carry Middle Eastern ingredients, are worth seeking out, but you can also substitute another 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and a pinch of salt if you can’t find them.
Eggplant and Golden Squash Tagine with Chickpeas and Raisins
1 1/2 lb. (750 g) butternut squash
1 lb. (500 g) Asian eggplant
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbs. ras el hanout
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 can (14 1⁄2 oz./410 g) chickpeas, drained
1 1⁄2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) vegetable broth
1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed and chopped
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (3/4 oz./20 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) toasted sliced almonds
1⁄4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) raisins or currants
Peel and halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) chunks. Trim the eggplant and cut into 1 1⁄2-inch (4-cm) chunks.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ras el hanout, turmeric, and the 1⁄2 tsp. salt and cook for 1 minute. Add butternut squash, eggplant, chickpeas, broth and preserved lemon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the squash and eggplant are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and additional salt and pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, stir together the parsley, almonds and raisins. Stir two-thirds of parsley mixture into tagine. Sprinkle the remaining parsley mixture over top and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well: New Ways to Enjoy Foods you Love, by Charity Ferreira