If you’ve ever stressed over what to serve at a vegan dinner party, this Moroccan Vegetable Tagine is your answer. It’s not your standard weeknight fare, feels a little bit exotic and exciting, doesn’t require any special equipment, and is totally approachable, no matter what your level of cooking experience is! It does require the use of a few specialty ingredients – preserved lemon, saffron, and harissa – but they are worth seeking out as they lend some authenticity and deep flavor to this very traditional North African dish. Saffron can be pricey, so in a pinch, you can use 1/2 tsp ground turmeric instead. I’ve found preserved lemons at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but, with some advance planning, you can also easily make your own!
Traditional tagines often use many root vegetables, but I’ve lightened it up a bit by swapping in my favorite late-summer produce. I love making this dish this time of year because many of the ingredients can be found fresh at your local farmer’s market! This tagine tastes fantastic served over fluffy, quick-cooking couscous, but if I have a gluten-free guest, I’ll swap in quinoa instead. It’s a fairly adaptable and forgiving dish overall; I also sometimes use chickpeas in place of the cannellini beans. Experiment and see what you enjoy most!
1 bell pepper (red, orange or yellow), seeded and sliced
2 carrots, sliced (about ½” thick)
4 cups cauliflower florets, cut into bite size pieces (about ½ medium head cauliflower)
2 (15.5 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cups water or vegetable stock
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground harissa seasoning
½ tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 pinch saffron
1 cinnamon stick
½ cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
½ cup pitted green olives, halved
¼ cup thinly sliced preserved lemons
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Sliced almonds, for garnish
Cooked couscous, flatbread, or quinoa for serving
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, about 7-8 minutes, or until peppers and carrots have softened slightly and onions are translucent. Add cauliflower, cannellini beans, water/vegetable stock, tomato paste, salt, ginger, harissa, turmeric, pepper, saffron and cinnamon stick and stir until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Bring mixture to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to simmer. Add dried apricots, green olives, and preserved lemons. Cover pot and let simmer for approximately 15-17 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender and cooked through.
Remove pot from heat. Remove and discard/compost cinnamon stick, then stir in cilantro and parsley. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
Serve hot over prepared couscous/quinoa, and top with sliced almonds.