Monday, January 23, 2012

Root Vegetable Tagine with Spice-Roasted Chickpeas

When Bon Appétit published this recipe, my sister and I both emailed it to our mother for her new Emile Henry tagine, even though neither one of us had tried the recipe yet. I finally got around to it, but I changed it a little. I didn’t use celery, because the recipe only called for one stalk and I knew the rest of it would go to waste in my vegetable drawer. I also omitted the turnips, because neither the Engineer nor I like them; I added more sweet potatoes to compensate. And I didn’t use olives, because I don’t like them (if we had had any on hand, I would have topped the Engineer’s serving with them, but we didn’t).

You do have to start this dish early, because the spice-roasted chickpeas, roasted spices and preserved lemon take a bit of time, but after that, it’s really easy. It still felt pretty labor-intensive when I was cooking for dinner just an hour after lunch, so I hoped it would be good! I wasn’t too sure about the preserved lemons, because I like them candied in sugar, but I’d never had them preserved in salt before. In the end, since I chopped them in small pieces, they lent a nice bright taste to the dish without overpowering it. The really nice thing was the roasted chickpeas, though, because they gave the dish some crunch. By themselves, they would also make a great snack. I felt that the dish, though good, was missing a little depth, but in its defense, I did omit three ingredients! The recipe makes enough for 6 generous servings.

For the spice-roasted chickpeas
¾ tsp cumin seeds
¾ tsp coriander seeds
1 15-oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed, well dried (I spread them out on a paper towel)
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper (I used Korean Pepper)
coarse kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Toast cumin seeds and coriander seeds in small skillet over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool. Transfer to spice mill; process until finely ground. Place chickpeas, olive oil, pinch of cayenne, and ground spices in medium bowl. Sprinkle with coarse salt; toss to coat evenly. Transfer to small rimmed baking sheet. Roast in oven until lightly browned and crunchy, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Reheat in 400 °F oven until warm, about 5 minutes, before serving, if desired.)

For the tagine
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp dried crushed red pepper (I used Korean pepper)
¼ tsp turmeric
4 ½ tsp coarse kosher salt, divided
1 lemon, thinly sliced
½ cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ Tbsp tomato paste
1 ¼ cups ½-inch cubes peeled carrots
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 cups water
1 ¼ lbs red-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb turnips (about 2 medium), peeled, cut into ¾-inch wedges
¾ cup brine-cured green olives, pitted, coarsely chopped (as I said, optional)
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (about 1 oz; not oil-packed), thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp dried mint (I used 1 fresh leaf, sliced very thinly)
1 10-oz box plain couscous (about 1 ½ cups), cooked according to package directions
spice-roasted chickpeas

Toast coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds in small skillet over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool. Transfer to spice mill; process until finely ground. Transfer to small bowl. Add red pepper, turmeric, and ½ tsp salt.

Mix lemon slices, lemon juice, and 4 tsp coarse salt in small skillet. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lemon slices are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Cool preserved lemon. Drain and chop.

(Spice blend and preserved lemon can be made 1 week ahead. Store spice blend airtight at room temperature. Transfer preserved lemon to small bowl; cover and chill.)

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; sprinkle with salt and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add toasted spice blend, garlic, and tomato paste; stir 1 minute. Add carrots and celery; stir 2 minutes. Add chopped preserved lemon, 4 cups water, sweet potatoes, turnips, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer with lid ajar until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Stir in parsley, cilantro, and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Spoon couscous into large bowl, spreading out to edges and leaving well in center. Spoon vegetable tagine into well in center. Sprinkle spice-roasted chickpeas over and serve.

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