Muv tried to get some fresh groceries on Thursday night but the apocalypse locusts had descended upon the local Co-op and there wasn’t a fresh vegetable or pint of milk to be had in advance of the forecast snow storm.
When we woke up on Friday morning everything around was blanketed in virginal white. The thick snow kept coming down, and the gritters hadn’t been to our tiny Northamptonshire village, so lunch was whatever I could come up with from the larder.
In weather like this, all I want to do is eat delicious spicy food, central heating for my soul. I found some sweet potatoes, a butternut squash & a sprouting baking potato. No other vegetables. There was a tub of Dean & Deluca Moroccan spice rub on a shelf, and a tub of marinated olives lurking at the back of the fridge. So a sort of tagine seemed indicated.
I was HUNGRY after sheep feeding and in no mood for hours of gentle simmering while vegetables cooked. So: a bastardised, completely cheating, LLG version of a sort of tagine…
I peeled and chopped the sweet potatoes & baking potato. The squash I chopped up, leaving the peel on. I steamed everything together until not quite cooked (because they wld finish cooking later) and reserved the steaming water.
Meanwhile, I chopped the onion and sweated it gently in olive oil, adding an extremely generous tablespoon of the Moroccan spices. When the squash was cooled, I peeled it – much easier than trying when it’s raw.
I then added all the chopped vegetables to the spiced onion, and poured in the reserved hot steaming water until it covered the vegetables, & looked like the picture below. I didn’t have any of the traditional chick peas, so added a can of drained, rinsed cannellini beans, followed by a small packet of blanched whole almonds and a large cup of olives. (Even if the almonds are a bit soft, mine were out of date stamp - considerably - they absorb all the lovely cooking juices and become plumped and crispy again, adding a great textural contrast to the meltingly soft vegetables.)
I then simmered it for about thirty minutes until it was thickened and rich. Some of the potato chunks broke down, which helped to thicken the sauce.
Served over some quick couscous mixed with the seeds of a pomegranate that was lurking in the crisper drawer, it was the perfect winter lunch. Ten minutes prep. Thirty minutes bubbling with the occasional stir.
2 x sweet potato
I x baking potato
half a small butternut squash
one medium white onion
can of drained, rinsed chick peas or cannellini beans or whatever beans you have to hand
one packet blanched almonds
a large cup of olives (mine were in oil, so I rinsed them briefly)
(In my view there can be no such thing as too many almonds or olives in a tagine, so add as much as you like)
2 c tbsps finely xhopped preserved lemon would be great if you have it kicking around, added with the olives.