A traditional North African tagine consists of spiced meat and vegetables cooked low and slow in an earthenware vessel. We also call this cooking vessel a tagine. You don’t need a tagine to cook a tagine. This is good news: it means that if you don’t own a tagine or know someone who will lend you one, you can make this glorious and flavorful one-pot recipe as soon as tonight.
Why we love this recipe:
Like any good stew, this butternut squash tagine is even better the next night. You’ll be happy to have leftovers, in other words.
Though orange vegetables such as carrots and butternut squash are not direct sources of Vitamin A, beta carotene is more likely to convert to Vitamin A in the body when cooked in fat (such as olive oil in this recipe). Beta carotene itself is protective against oxidative stress, and you can recognize food sources because it gives vegetables and fruits their deep yellow-orange pigment. When cooked gently with a bit of good fat, beta carotene in vegetables is more easily absorbed by the body.
Layers of flavors are perfectly matched to the bittersweet feelings often brought on by the end of summer and beginning of autumn. Cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, and chili flakes are toasted with the sweet onion, while the lemon is added at the end to cut the sweetness of the squash, honey, and dried apricots.
Canned and cooked tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, which has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, and macular degeneration. Look for tomatoes sold in glass jars instead of metal, as metal often contains BPA (and even BPA-free cans have often been replaced with a different toxic chemical).
Butternut Squash Tagine (inspired by Sabrina Ghayour)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 28-oz jar chopped tomatoes
1 14-oz can chickpeas
2 teaspoons honey
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
Juice from 1 lemon (or 2 preserved lemons, chopped)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Add olive oil to a cold soup pot or Dutch oven and heat to medium on the stove.
Add diced onions and sliced garlic and sauté, until both are soft.
To the onions: add cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and dried chili flakes.
Sauté onion and garlic with spices, until spices are toasted and fragrant.
Add chopped butternut squash, tomatoes, and chickpeas to the pot along with 1½ cups of water. Stir and cover pot slightly. Bring up to a simmer and let cook until squash is tender (about 30-35 minutes).
Last, add the honey, apricots, and lemon. Stir, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Scatter with fresh parsley and serve with rice.