by Joyce Goldstein, author of The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home
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Moroccan Vegetable Tagine (Mehalet)
This recipe, which is sometimes called tajine del sabana, is a cross between two tagine recipes in La cuisine juive du Maroc de mère en fille by Maguy Kakon. Similar dishes are found on the Rosh Hashanah table in Fez, Meknes, and Tangier. Almost any combination of vegetables will work for this fragrant stew, which is typically served with cous-cous. It includes both potatoes and sweet potatoes and the classic addition of preserved lemon and olives, which add salt and tang. If you like, 1 to 1/2 pounds butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks, can be used in place of the sweet potatoes. Although not authentic, I sometimes add 1/2 cup plumped raisins for a note of sweetness.
¼ cup olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Maras pepper flakes
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 cups vegetable broth or water
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 turnips or rutabagas, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 small Yukon Gold or new potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks
4 small zucchini, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 cup drained canned chickpeas, rinsed (optional)
Peel of 2 preserved lemons, homemade or store-bought, rinsed and cut into fine slivers
1 cup green or violet olives
2 fresh chiles, thinly sliced (optional)
Warm the oil in a large stew pot over medium heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, turmeric, ginger, pepper flakes, tomatoes, and half of the cilantro and cook, stirring, for a few minutes to bloom the spices. Pour in the broth, stir well, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the carrots, re-cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the turnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes longer. Add the zucchini, chickpeas, preserved lemon, olives, and chiles and simmer until all of the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and add the remaining cilantro. Serve hot.
Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author. Her most recent book is Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years that Changed Our Culinary Consciousness (UC Press, 2013).