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You know how you cook something and it's so good that its memory lingers? A week, a month, some weeks later you're still feeling all dreamy? You intend to make it again, but then the moment passes, and yet the memory still lingers? And best of all, then you finally make it again and reality matches the memory?
When we first made this tagine a year ago, it was a side dish. But when I remade it this week and paired it with Oven-Baked Brown Rice, whoa, it made for a fabulous vegetarian – vegan even – supper. I was completely blown away. The ingredients are 100% familiar and yet, together, they create something entirely new and magical.
WHAT IS A TAGINE? A tagine is North African stew, often meat and vegetables simmered with preserved lemon, olives, dried fruit and a medley of spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, saffron and turmeric. But a tagine is also a North African cooking vessel, so used with Moroccan recipes, Tunisian recipes, Algerian recipes. Food blogger Lydia Walshin has an artist friend who makes handmade clay tagines, they're just lovely and will give you an idea of the shape. I've been cooking with an All-Clad Tagine, the base is stainless steel, the domed lid is glazed terra cotta which, I'll mention, is prone to chipping, too bad. What I love most about the tagine is how it is the ultimate in stove-to-table cooking. I just love the drama of putting the tagine in the center of the table, then whisking off the lid with a big flourish. When people are over for dinner, it makes an impression! We tend to use it as a slow-cooker for the oven, combining meat with lots of vegetables to cook for several hours, then serving rice or couscous on the side. Very satisfying!
WHAT TO USE INSTEAD OF A TAGINE? A Dutch oven is a good substitute for a tagine, it's designed for low, slow cooking. For this particular dish, however, I would use a shallow oven-safe casserole dish so that the cubes of sweet potato and butternut squash have access to the liquid that is OH-so-so delicious. UPDATE Oh! And a reader had great success with a slow cooker, high for 4 hours.
"It was fabulous." ~ BellePlaine
"Excellent, and beloved by all who ate it!" ~ Aly
"Came out great!" ~ Anonymous
SWEET POTATO & BUTTERNUT SQUASH TAGINE
Time to table: 90 minutes
Serves 10 as a side dish, 4 as a main dish
(If making Oven-Baked Brown Rice, start the rice, including putting the water on to boil. You'll put the rice and the tagine into the oven at the same time, they'll finish at the same time too!)
1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), washed well, peeled and cubed (How to Cut a Butternut Squash & Keep All Ten Fingers)
1 pound sweet potato, peeled and cubed (see TIPS)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
pinch of cayenne
2 cups hot vegetable stock (I used 2 teaspoons of Homemade Vegetable Bouillon and two cups boiling water)
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon agave or honey
Cilantro leaves, chopped (don't skip these)
Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Prep the sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
In a tagine or skillet, heat the oil on MEDIUM until shimmery. Add the onion and let cook, stirring often, until beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic and spices, cook for another minutes or two until fragrant. (If you don't have a tagine, transfer this mixture to a shallow oven-safe baking dish such as Corningware or Pyrex.) Stir in the hot broth, slowly at first, it will sizzle. Stir in the sweet potato and butternut squash cubes, top with raisins, drizzle with honey. Cover and bake for an hour or until the vegetables are soft and aromatic but not mushy. Remove the cinnamon stick, sprinkle with cilantro leaves, serve and savor.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
TIMING While this dish does reheat, there's something about the freshness that's best straight from the oven.
GOOD for a CROWD This is a great dish for a crowd, a great vegetable addition to potluck tables usually so laden with sweets and starches. People LOVE it.
OUT OF RAISINS? Substitute meaty Kalamata olives, they're easy to find at the olive bar in grocery stores. For convenience, buy the prepitted olives.
ADD CARROTS If you like, add or substitute carrots.
GARNET SWEET POTATOES This variety of sweet potato is especially good, because they don't get mealy like regular sweet potatoes. They are more perishable, so more expensive, but look for red-skinned sweet potatoes, some times labeled "yams" or "red-skinned yams".
DON'T MISS! Be sure to make something to sop up the luscious liquid from this dish! Pita bread would work, so would the traditional couscous.
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MORE FAVORITE SWEET POTATO RECIPES~ My Best & Favorite Sweet Potato Recipes ~
~ Frozen Sweet Potato Fries: Are They Worth the Price? the Calories? ~
~ Warm Sweet Potato Salad ~
~ East African Pea Soup ~
~ Maple Ginger Sweet Potatoes ~
~ more sweet potato recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Turkey Sweet Potato Soup ~
~ Chicken Cider Stew ~
~ Confetti Potato Salad ~
~ more sweet potato recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
MORE FAVORITE BUTTERNUT SQUASH RECIPES~ My Favorite Winter Squash Recipes ~
~ How to Cut, Peel & Cube a Butternut Squash and Keep All Ten Fingers ~
~ How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash ~
~ Curried Squash ~
~ Steamed Butternut Squash ~
~ Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple ~
~ Squash Puff ~
~ Winter Stew ~
~ more winter squash recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade