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Tunisian Vegetable Tagine

Photo by Tim Porter

Insalata’s, San Anselmo

Traditional Middle Eastern tagines are prepared in conical-shaped earthenware pots, also called tajines, which cook the contents in their own juices. A Dutch oven or heavy-bottom sauté pan is a good substitute. The spice mixture for this Tunisian stew complements most root and green vegetables.

Spice Mixture
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 pinch saffron threads
1 star anise pod
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1/8-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 zucchini, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can peeled and chopped tomatoes, with juices
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup currants

3 cups vegetable stock
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups couscous
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 tablespoon chopped fresh
cilantro for garnish

Combine all the ingredients for the spice mixture in a small bowl and stir to blend. Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and sauté the onion for about 7 minutes, or until soft. Stir in all of the spice mixture and sauté for 2 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl.

In the same pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and sauté the carrot, sweet potato and parsnip for 10 to 12 minutes, until crisp-tender.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the bowl with the onion. Reheat the pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil, and sauté the fennel and peppers for 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Add zucchini and cook for 5 more minutes.

Return all the vegetables and onion mixture to the pan. Add the water and the tomatoes and their juices and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and currants and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Just before serving, make the couscous: Combine the stock and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the couscous and olive oil.

Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let stand for 7 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and fold in the pistachios. Serve warm with the vegetable tagine. Garnish the tagine with the cilantro.

Serves 6 as a main course.

Organic Marin: Recipes from Land to Table

Written and photographed by Tim Porter and Farina Wong Kingsley, and produced by Marin Magazine, this is a seasonal cookbook that celebrates the organic farmers and ranchers of Marin County. Flavor will feature a recipe from Organic Marin each month. The book can be purchased at local bookstores or by going to marinmagazine.com/organicmarin.

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