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Warm Winter Veggie Roasts: Moroccan Tagine

Monica Shaw is a freelance writer who specializes in science, health, fitness and food. She is the primary author of the website and blog, SmarterFitter.com.

To many people, the word “roast” is typically reserved for meat.  However, there are plenty of ways that vegetarians can delight in the warm comfort of a roast dinner.  Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, and butternut squash are prime candidates for roasting.  And with the temperatures falling fast, there are plenty of reasons to turn on the oven.

At its simplest, roasted vegetables are as easy as salt, pepper, and a liberal dose of olive oil in a roasting pan with your veggies.  But you can really bring out the flavor of those veggies by experimenting with different herbs and spices, such as rosemary and thyme.

One of my favorite ways to roast winter vegetables is to coat them with a Moroccan chermoula paste before roasting.  Chermoula is a blend of onion, garlic, ginger, lemon juice and spices.  It pairs beautifully with sweet root vegetables, as well as cauliflower, eggplant and potatoes.  You can pretty much throw any vegetable at it and the chermoula will do its magic. For extra protein, try adding tofu or chickpeas to the mix.  Served with couscous or crusty bread, this makes a filling meal that will keep you warm this winter.  You won’t even miss the meat.

Moroccan Tagine with Chermoula Paste
Serves 4

For the chermoula paste:

• 1 red onion, roughly chopped
• 1 garlic clove, peeled
• 1/2-inch fresh ginger, peeled
• juice of half a lemon
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 1.5 tsp each: honey, cumin, paprika, turmeric
• 1 tsp chili powder
• handful of cilantro

For the tagine:

• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 2 carrots, cut into chunks
• 1/2 butternut squash, cut into chunks
• 1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
• 2 leeks, cut into chunks
• 1 red onion, cut into chunks
• 1/2 head of cauliflower, divided into big florets
• 10 dried prunes, apricots or other dried fruit
• 2 spring mint, leaves only, finely chopped

Instructions

1. Pre-heat oven to 220 C / 430 F.

2. To make the chermoula, whiz paste ingredients in a blender.

3. Combine the olive oil and vegetables in an ovenproof casserole and cook on the stove until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.

4. Add the chermoula paste to the casserole, along with the prunes. Pour in 200 ml water, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 180 C/ 350 F and cook for another 45 minutes.

5. Sprinkle with mint. Serve with almond and chickpea couscous.

You can find the recipe for chickpea couscous along with more of Monica’s vegetarian recipes at SmarterFitter.com.

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November 14th, 2008

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