Monday, March 16, 2009

Recession: Party of One - Clean-Out-The-Fridge Tagine

One of my favorite ways to eat healthily is to take all the inevitable leftover veggie scraps from a week or so's worth of meals and throw them into one dish. I'm always surprised how much I can make out of so little, and it's nice to have a reason to get all that clutter out of the fridge.

This meal was a perfect example of that. Every time I thought I had found every last veggie, I kept stumbling across more little Ziploc baggies of goodness.

I have recently been reading up on how to make tagines, which are a North African dish named for their clay cooking vessel (the tagine), which looks like this:

For those of us who don't own a tagine (er...put that one on the future-wedding-registry-list), making a tagine can involve a CrockPot or just a simple pot with a lid. They are most commonly made with lamb or chicken on the bone, and simmered for long periods of time to tenderize the meat. And if you're one of those gotta-have-the-most-obscure-kitchen-tools types, check out this tagine site.

My inspiration for the CrockPot veggie tagine was my weekend trip to The Spice House, an amazing spice store in Old Town, where I outfitted myself with some basic Indian and Moroccan spices for about $11 (!).

When I set out to put together my tagine, I simply couldn't decide which spice mix to use, so I just mixed the Garam Masala and the Moroccan spice blends. They have similar base flavors, so I figured they'd go well together.

Read on to see how to make one mean tagine...



(mesaurements are loose approximations)

3/4 c. chickpeas
1/2 c. sweet potato, in small chunks
1 orange bell pepper, cut into chunks
1/2 white onion, in chunks
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1/2 c. raw peas
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1/4 c. cashews, slightly crushed
1 T. Moroccan spice blend
1 T. garam masala

handful of spinach leaves, raw
sliced green olives

white rice
chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 tsp. butter

sour cream (for garnish, if desired)


(This can be done the night before, which is what I did. The inner part of my CrockPot is removable, so I just put all the ingredients in there and refrigerated it overnight, then stuck it in the CrockPot base to cook all day while I was at work.)

Mix the first 10 ingredients together in the CrockPot.


Cook on low for about 8 hours (basically, just cook it while you're at work). When done, stir in the spinach leaves to wilt, and also the olives. Taste, and add salt if neccessary.


Turn CrockPot to WARM. Cook the rice in the chicken broth, adding the saffron. When done, add salt, pepper and butter and fluff with a fork.


Serve the veggie tagine over the rice, topping with a little sour cream (or plain yogurt) if desired.

This was a really flavorful dish! The spices made it so complex that I would probably never think that it was a vegetarian dish if I hadn't known. I can only imagine how incredible this would be with some slow-simmered lamb...mmmm. I've also seen some great chicken tagine recipes with preserved lemon rind and olives.... Next time, delicious litte tagine, next time!

Let's check out the PARTY OF ONE PRICE INDEX, shall we?

CHICKPEAS: 20 cents
SPINACH: 66 cents
SWEET POTATO: 25 cents
PEAS: 50 cents
ONION: 10 cents (didn't use much)
CARROT: 15 cents
SPICES: around $1.00 total

I'm leaving out the rice and the sour cream, since I already had those before my bulk shopping trip. This made about 4 good-size servings (the leftovers are in my lunchbag for tomorrow and stashed in my freezer), which puts the per-serving GRAND TOTAL at:


Wow. What a great price for so much slow-simmered yumminess! Proof that you don't have to go halfway around the world to eat like it - that's what I call budget travelling ;-)

Thanks for reading! More soon...

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