Vegetable Tagine

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28 Jan Vegetable Tagine

In the comment section recently, Leslie asked about eggplant. She’s tired of it drowned in tomato sauce or swimming in oil.  Joe Girard of Rouxbe Online Cooking School provided some great answers, but even his professional advice didn’t get me off the hook. I’d promised Leslie I’d look into other ways of cooking it, and a promise is a promise.

During my research I came across a tomato-less, non-oily recipe that included eggplant. Best part? I didn’t need to salt the eggplant and leave it for a half hour to draw out the bitter juices. Now Leslie, I know this doesn’t exactly fit your request for eggplant “in a more natural state”, but the weather’s been so cloudy and miserable lately, I couldn’t resist this warm, sweet Moroccan dish. You can almost taste the sunshine…

It also counts as my vegetable of the week, so I’m still on track with that resolution at least.

What’s your opinion on eggplant? Love it? It’s just a carrier for sauce? Or is this a vegetable you can live without?

Vegetable Tagine

Excerpt printed with permission from In the Kitchen with Anna by Anna Olson (Whitecap, 2008).

Tagine actually refers to the cone-shaped dish that this stew is traditionally cooked in. The principle of it is simple — the team rises up, condenses at the top of the cone-shaped lid and then slowly drips down the cone to return to the stew, so no moisture or flavour is lost.

Serves 8 as a side dish, 4 as an entree.

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil [45 mL]
  • 2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato [500 mL]
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (1-inch/ 2.5 cm pieces) [375 mL]
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots (1-inch/ 2.5 cm pieces) [375 mL]
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger [30 mL]
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin [15 mL]
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander [15 mL]
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon [4 mL]
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water [750 mL]
  • 3 Tbsp fancy molasses [45 mL]
  • 1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets [375 mL]
  • 1 1/2 cups diced eggplant (1-inch/ 2.5 cm pieces) [375 mL]
  • 1 can (14 oz / 398 mL) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cups raisins [190 mL]
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots [125 mL]
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cups sliced almonds, slightly toasted [125 mL]

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sweet potato, onion and carrots, and saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minues.

Add garlic, ginger, and ground spices and saute 2 minutes.

Add stock (or water) and molasses and bring up to a simmer.

Add cauliflower, eggplant, chickpeas, raisins, and apricots, season lightly and bring up to a simmer.

Lower the heat and continue simmering, uncovered, until all the vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed (but the tagine is still moist) about 20 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve garnished with toasted almonds.

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32 Comments
  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 15:34h, 28 January Reply

    Love it! I tend to use eggplant with tomato based dishes – but this dish looks like a welcome change. I really like the combination of spice and I could use a little sunshine too!
    .-= The Diva on a Diet´s last blog ..Thirsty Thursdays: Loch Lomond Edition =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:36h, 02 February Reply

      Tomato-based dishes are very popular with eggplant — Imam Biyalid, Eggplant Parmesan, Ratatouille…

      This one was a nice change of pace and very exotic.

  • Cheryl@5secondrule
    Posted at 16:37h, 28 January Reply

    I love this flair for exotically spiced dishes you have, Charmian.

    I’m hot and cold on eggplant. When it’s good, it’s really REALLY good (like Monica Bhide’s eggplant dish, which I love), but when it’s bad, it’s truly dismal. We ate at a great restaurant in San Francisco recently and got a bunch of little dishes. At the last minute, I ordered the sesame eggplant, too. It sounded really good. What arrived looked and tasted like eggplant in a tahini bath, and it was just horrid.

    Your tagine, by contrast, looks light and healthful!
    .-= Cheryl@5secondrule´s last blog ..Meatballs =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:38h, 02 February Reply

      Eggplant to me is a carrier vegetable. Not much on it’s own, but a wonderful way to deliver spicy sauces. Zucchini is like this too, but tends to fall apart more.

      You’re the second person to mention Monica’s recipe, so I just might have to try it.

  • Amy Proulx
    Posted at 17:49h, 28 January Reply

    I’ve got a couple tagine pots from Morocco when I worked there. The most fun to cook in.

    We live on eggplant. My favorite, a simple dish which is a perfect lunch with a crusty loaf of bread, some fresh plain yogurt, and a leafy green salad. The dish is called mirzeh ghasemi, a common dish from the Caspian coast of Iran.

    Sautee 1 large diced eggplant in about 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 head (not 1 clove, yes, it’s 1 head) of chopped garlic. Add about an equal amount of diced tomatoes (1 15 ounce can works), and sautee until everything just starts to dry up. Add about 5 eggs, and scramble the whole thing together. Salt and pepper to taste, and you are good to go.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:40h, 02 February Reply

      Amy, I’ve never heard of this dish before. It sounds amazing. You simply MUST bring it the next time we have a pot luck.

      And I’m trying very hard not to be jealous of your tagine dishes. They are a work of art but very expensive. I now regret not picking one up when I was in Portugal. Oh well, maybe I’ll have to make it to Morocco one day instead.

      • Amy Proulx
        Posted at 16:47h, 02 February Reply

        @Charmian Christie,
        You will have to go to Morocco, it’s beautiful, and the food is amazing. The utilitarian cooking tagines are very inexpensive (the kind I have). The decorated serving tagines, not so cheap, but still, I’d say worth every penny when you make people’s jaws drop when walking into a potluck, or serving at a dinner party.

  • Robin Smart
    Posted at 17:54h, 28 January Reply

    This looks brilliant. I think I love this recipe and best of all I have the ingredients on hand!! I’m thinking of trying it on the weekend.
    This has nothing to do with eggplant, which I like very much, but I think it is a brilliant idea and this might be place to share it.
    At work yesterday, when hosting an Open House, and serving hot cider from a large crock pot I discovered the ladle was at home. We ended up using a small cream jug instead, and from now on that is my preferred method for any punch/drink. No issues for the left- handed who say ladles with spouts are awkward for them, no ladle dropping into the punch bowl, no drips and no needing two or more dips to fill a cup.
    Stay warm.
    Love,
    Robin

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:43h, 02 February Reply

      Neat tip! Good to know this.

      This dish is on the sweet side so your husband should love it. Plus it has no hot spices. And it’s healthy. And it’s easy to make. And fast. Oh heck, it’s just perfect for you. Let me know how it turns out for you!

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 19:26h, 28 January Reply

    Nicely presented! I love that plate.

    One of my fav non-tomato eggplant recipes is Monica Bhide’s ginger glazed eggplant in her last book.
    .-= Dana McCauley´s last blog ..A letter from Haiti: After the earthquake =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:45h, 02 February Reply

      You had me at ginger. And Monica’s recipes are amazing. I have a copy and will have to look it up.

      My sister gave me that plate and I just LOVE it. It’s one of my favourites. It makes every dish look extra special. I have to discipline myself not to use it too often.

  • Ellie
    Posted at 21:05h, 28 January Reply

    That tagine looks fabulous. Maybe it is totally pedestrian but what about a nice roasted eggplant babbaganoush?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:47h, 02 February Reply

      Ellie, I love babba ganoush and made it a little while ago. The only problem is it looks worse than refried beans! Perhaps if I pull out that fancy plate again I can photograph it without scaring away readers :-)

  • Katerina
    Posted at 11:48h, 29 January Reply

    I recently tried Baighan Bartha for the first time and fell in love! It is an Indian dish made with smoky roasted eggplant, peas and indian spices. It certainly isn’t swimming in oil or tomatoes. So good!
    .-= Katerina´s last blog ..Carrot, Red Lentil and Ginger Soup Recipe =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:48h, 02 February Reply

      Thanks for the suggestion, Katerina. I’ve never heard of this dish before but it sounds wonderful. I adore Indian food and anything with a bit of smoke. Thank so much for the idea!

      • Tiya
        Posted at 09:10h, 09 September Reply

        @Charmian Christie, ‘Baigan’ mean Eggplant and ‘Bharta’ means mash. hence the name.
        Iv recently got married and im learning how to cook..been following your website. Its teh most interesting and has the best recipes so far!

        • Charmian Christie
          Posted at 19:16h, 09 September Reply

          @Tiya, thanks for the clarification. I love learning these things.

          Congratulations on your recent marriage. I hope you share many happy and delicious meals with your husband.

  • Francesca
    Posted at 23:21h, 29 January Reply

    This sounds delicious and something I’ll definitely try.
    We eat a lot of eggplant, love it. I prefer Sicilian eggplant though and it’s hard to find so I’ve been growing it in the garden. I find it less bitter, more meaty and it has fewer seeds.
    .-= Francesca´s last blog ..Aged Beamed & Vaulted =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:49h, 02 February Reply

      Good to know. If there is room in the garden this summer I will try Sicilian eggplant. I find the smaller Japanese ones are nicer than the big fat generic ones. But sometimes there isn’t a choice.

  • Francesca
    Posted at 23:31h, 29 January Reply

    I wasn’t finished writing! Clicked the wrong button! I was going to add this:
    The way I prepare the Sicilian eggplant is by slicing it rather thick (skin on) rubbing very lightly with a good quality olive oil then grilling it-turning over making sure each side gets the grill marks. As it’s on the grill I add a bit of fresh oregano. Put on a platter then salt/pepper to taste. Great cold too.
    Another is making a vegetable lasanga with the eggplant being used as the noodle. Lots of parmesan cheese and fine bread crumbs sprinked between the layers along with other thin sliced veggies. When cold this cuts into squares like a dream!
    Because it absorbs so much oil, I rarely fry it up. When I do I cut it into strips without the skin and saute it very quickly with garlic and parsley. I will add salt to bring out the moisture thus using less oil. Adding green peppers and onions and oregano is nice too….I could go on with eggplant since we eat so much of it. :)
    The baby eggplant are great for cutting lengthwise and stuffed with just a tad of good tomatoe sauce to cover the top/or not. I rarely add tomatoe sauce to my eggplant.
    Ok , enough for now! :)

    P.S. Love that plate in the picture!!!
    .-= Francesca´s last blog ..Aged Beamed & Vaulted =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:51h, 02 February Reply

      Thanks for the details on cooking eggplant! This is great.

      Great tip on the lasagna front, too. I’ve heard of zucchini in lieu of pasta but not eggplant. Don’t see why not. Great idea.

  • Lorraine
    Posted at 11:16h, 30 January Reply

    I had something else planned for dinner last night, but your Vegetable Tagine looked so divine, I made a big pot of it instead.

    And I ate three bowls.

    I love the spice combination and touch of burnt-sugary sweetness lent by the molasses.
    .-= Lorraine´s last blog ..Quick Oat Bran Raisin Muffin Recipe =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:52h, 02 February Reply

      Three bowls? Now that’s what I call an endorsement! Glad you liked it. And thanks for letting me know how it turned out! Much appreciated.

  • tasteofbeirut
    Posted at 13:31h, 30 January Reply

    I like that recipe a lot. I was wondering what type of molasses you are referring to ; in Lebanese cuisine, we use a lot of pomegranate molasses.

  • Charmian Christie
    Posted at 12:53h, 02 February Reply

    Pomegranate molasses would be great in this. This recipe is fairly flexible, so I say go for it!

    And I’ve been meaning to buy some pomegranate molasses myself, so this is just the push I need.

    Thanks for the great suggestion.

  • jodi (bloomingwriter)
    Posted at 17:51h, 13 April Reply

    I made this for supper tonight. Made some lemon/spinach couscous to go with it. It was utterly delicious. (hubby had boring pork chops). Put enough in the freezer for four more meals for moi, plus lunch tomorrow. So I’m a happy eggplant camper.
    .-= jodi (bloomingwriter)´s last blog ..Resisting anything but (plant) temptation =-.

  • Biryani Recipes
    Posted at 09:32h, 14 July Reply

    What a beautiful looks. i am very excited reading your post. I shall have to try that. Simply best recipe. I have recently Vegetables Salad Recipe add on my blog but your Vegetable Tagine Recipe is much better than mine.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 17:35h, 15 July Reply

      Glad the recipe inspired you. Don’t put your recipe down. We need diversity with recipes, not replication.

  • val mcnally
    Posted at 12:59h, 13 December Reply

    Total waste of paper, 12 pages of dribble, for one recipe.
    Consider having the recipe by itself in printable form. then if you want to read the comments fine, but you aren’t forced to print them all.
    Hope the recipe is worth the waste of paper, 10 pages.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:01h, 22 December Reply

      @val mcnally, sorry you wasted so much paper. The green Print / PDF button at the end of each post is supposed to eliminate paper waste, but requires a bit of work. Plus, most people don’t even notice it. To fix this, I now manually format a “Print this” tab for each recipe, which prints the recipe only — but that doesn’t help you here.

      Hope the recipe was worth the paper.

  • Tina
    Posted at 16:16h, 25 September Reply

    I thought this recipe was rather bland compared to other tagines I have made. I don’t think I will make it again.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:50h, 30 September Reply

      Sorry you were disappointed in the results. The dish is very flexible, so you can always up the spices or add the flavours you feel are missing.

      I hope you find other recipes here that suit your palate better.

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