This is as much a technique as it is a recipe—a simple method for cooking vegetables in red charmoula, a Moroccan braising sauce that includes tomato puree, olive oil, lemon and spices. Vary the types of vegetables as you wish, says Chef Mourad Lahlou, as long as you use a quantity that makes a cone-shaped pile that fills the tagine about halfway and doesn’t touch the inner walls of the lid (so there’s plenty of room for air to circulate).
- 4 1/2 cups Mourad’s spiced tomato and herb braising sauce
3 1/2 lb. trimmed vegetables, such as:
- Cipollini onions, 1 inch in diameter
- Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- Baby carrots, 1 1/2 inches long, or large carrots, peeled and cut
into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- Cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
- Turnips, cut into wedges
- Fennel bulbs, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (optional)
- 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
- Paper-thin slices of raw vegetables used in tagine for garnish
- Fennel fronds for garnish
- 1 preserved lemon, pulp removed, rind thinly sliced
- Crunchy sea salt for sprinkling
In a saucepan over medium heat, simmer the braising sauce, stirring often to prevent scorching, until reduced by one-fourth, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Position a rack in the bottom of an oven; remove the other racks. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Layer the vegetables in the tagine, starting with the cipollini onions and placing larger vegetables toward the bottom, where there is more heat. Add the chickpeas and raisins in the middle. As you layer, shape the vegetables into a mound, making sure the lid will fit securely without touching the vegetables. End with the smallest vegetable pieces.
Pour the braising sauce over the vegetables. Put the tagine on a heat diffuser over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Place the tagine on a baking sheet, cover with the lid and transfer to the oven. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Remove the lid. Garnish the tagine with raw vegetable slices, fennel fronds and preserved lemon. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serves 6.
Adapted from Mourad: New Moroccan, by Mourad Lahlou (Artisan, 2011).