A tagine is a slow cooked savoury stew, and also the cookware the dish can be made in. The conical shaped lid is shaped as it is to keep the steam from the ingredients inside from completely escaping, thus making the meat or vegetables to cook to tender perfection without the addition of a lot of liquid. Traditionally, the tagine is placed over coals to cook, but you can also use the tagine in a slow oven or on top of a gas or electric stove top. Should you use the stove top, the use of an aluminium piece (called a diffuser) between the tagine and burner is recommended so that the heat can be more evenly distributed.
Even if you don’t have the traditional cookware, you can make a healthy and delicious Butternut Squash Tagine at home. Follow our directions below and create yourself a lovely meal for a chilly winter day.
To start, collect the vegetables you’ll use in your tagine. We’ve used butternut squash, aubergine, courgette, red, green and yellow peppers, and white onion, but feel free to omit, substitute or add any squash varieties or Mediterranean vegetables you like.
Chop all vegetables into bite size pieces. Start with the aubergine. Toss the pieces with coarse salt and let sit for 30 minutes in a bowl and then squeeze any excess liquid from them. This will help them to fry better. Be sure to take off the skin and de-seed the squash prior to chopping. Salt and drizzle with oil then arrange the butternut squash on a roaster tray in one even level so that the pieces roast evenly. Roast on 180 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and then set aside.
As the squash is roasting, combine fresh garlic, freshly shredded ginger, sliced red and green chilies and some fresh coriander in a food processor. The seeds from the chilies add heat, so dependent on the amount of spice you like, de-seed them or leave them. We’ve left them in. Add a small amount of olive oil to the processor, and let it blend the ingredients until they have become a paste.
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat on the stove. Sweat the onions, peppers and the paste you’ve made. You’ll know when you’ve fried them enough when the onions become soft. Add equal portions of cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric, 2-4 bay leaves and about ¼ of the amount of nutmeg as the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric. Add canned chopped tomatoes and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add the roasted squash and finish with fresh coriander. Serve atop a bed of lime and pomegranate couscous and perhaps beside a nicely seasoned piece of roast chicken.
**All of the seasonings are flexible and to taste. We made a very large portion, so used much more than you might.