I found the original recipe for Root Vegetable Tagine on Epicurious. It’s by a woman named Molly Stevens and, looking at her profile, I can see that it’s definitely one of those accidentally-vegan recipes. I’ve made it a few times now, and have perfected it to my own taste. The original recipe totally didn’t work for me, but I saw the potential and I did find that with just a few small changes, the recipe got not only seriously yummy, but also healthier, cheaper and quicker to make than the original! Wins all around! Here it is as I made it (and many thanks to Molly Stevens for the inspiration):
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 c. lemon juice
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T tomato paste
- 2 large carrots (I chopped the carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes and celery rather small in order to cook them quickly)
- 3 small turnips
- 1 large celery stalk or a chunk of celeriac, roughly apple-sized (I used the latter)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, well-washed, skin-ON
- 1 c. garbanzo beans
- 1 c. bulgur (dry)
- 4 c. vegetable broth (preferably homemade) or increase to 6 c. if you wish to cook the bulgur in broth rather than water
- 1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 c. fresh mint, chopped
The original recipe called for 3 T olive oil, 3/4 c. olives, 1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper, only 1/4 tsp turmeric, and a whopping 4 1/2 tsps of salt, all of which I omitted. The salt was supposed to go into making preserved lemons, which I also left out simply to save some time. The lemon juice, which was meant for the preserved lemons, I repurposed by adding it to the tagine directly.
I did use 1/4 tsp of salt. I only left out the red pepper flakes because the last two dinners I’ve made have been seriously spicy, and I just wasn’t in the mood for a third.
The first time that I made the recipe, I included the olives and the sun-dried tomatoes. I absolutely hated the olives in this dish, though I’m an olive lover in general. For me, they just didn’t fit. The second time I made it, I decided that I didn’t really enjoy the sun-dried tomatoes, either, even though I’m generally a HUGE fan of them. Losing both of these items significantly reduces the cost of making this dish, while also reducing the salt & oil contents, making it healthier.
I used vegetable broth in place of the water called for in the original to add another level of nutrients.
I also used far more herbs than the original recipe, which only called for 2 T cilantro and 1 tsp dried mint. In my opinion, if you’ve got more salt than mint in your recipe, something is off! I wanted to make my bulgur a little more bright and tabbouleh-ish to balance out the richness of the root veg.
I used regular old garbanzos rather than the spice-roasted ones called for, simply to reduce the amount of time it would take to pull this recipe together.
Last but not least, I used bulgur, a whole grain, rather than couscous, which is essentially a type of pasta made with semolina flour.
I did several things differently, so rather than refer you to the original recipe for instructions, I’ll tell you exactly what I did.
- Toast the spice seeds in a pan on medium heat until they become quite fragrant, just 2 or 3 minutes, then grind them and mix in the turmeric and salt.
- In a large pan, sauté the onions in a little of the broth until translucent, then add the garlic, and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes.
- Add the spices, tomato paste, and 4 c. broth; stir until the tomato paste is fully incorporated into the broth.
- Add the vegetables and the garbanzo beans.
- Cook, covered and on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender, about 35 minutes, depending on the size of the cut.
- In the meantime, prepare the bulgur as instructed on the box, using broth rather than water, if desired. Once it’s ready, stir and allow to cool a little.
- Add the fresh herbs to the bulgur and stir them in.
- Serve the vegetables on top of the bulgur.
This recipe will feed 3 people with a hearty appetite. The nutrition information below is for 1/3 of the recipe as made here, with one exception – I didn’t include the use of my homemade vegetable broth in place of water. Also, I assumed canned garbanzo beans. Using cooked-from-dry will lower sodium content.
Checklist items: just under 1 beans, just under 1 cruciferous, .5 greens, 3 other vegetables, spices, 2 whole grains (about 8 out of 18 servings)
For easy reference, here’s what you’ll need to round out the day:
- 2 beans
- 3 other fruits
- 1.5 greens
- 1 whole grains
And now I’m really wishing I were having this for dinner tonight! I’ll definitely be making it again very soon.