Vegetables can be combined in countless ways to make Moroccan tagines. The pairing of peas and zucchini is particularly common, as is the pairing of peas and potatoes. This Moroccan tagine recipe combines all three vegetables with the tangy additions of preserved lemon and olives. It's best slow cooked in a traditional clay or ceramic tagine as described below. Directions for adapting the recipe to a conventional pot are also included.
Beef or goat meat can be substituted for the lamb.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
- 1 lb. (about 1/2 kg) lamb, beef or goat meat, cut into 2" pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped or sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 small zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise
- 4 small potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups of peas
- small handful of cilantro, tied into a bouquet
- 1 preserved lemon, quartered and seeds removed
- 1 handful of green pitted olives
- additional chopped cilantro, if desired, for a garnish
Parboil the peas for about five minutes and drain. Combine the spices in a bowl and set aside.
Put the onions and garlic in the bottom of a tagine, and top with the potato slices. Distribute half of the spice mixture over the potatoes.
Arrange the meat, zucchini and peas on top of the potatoes. Add the remaining spices and olive oil.
Place the cilantro bouquet on top in the center, and add the olives and preserved lemon quarters, flesh side down. Pour in 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water, or just enough to partially cover the peas. Cover the tagine.
Bring the tagine to a simmer over medium heat (this can take 15 or 20 minutes, and using a diffuser is recommended), and then reduce the heat to the lowest heat necessary to maintain the simmer. Cook the tagine for about 3 hours, checking the liquids once or twice in the last hour of cooking and adding a little bit more water only if you feel it's necessary.
The tagine is done when you can easily break the meat with your fingers. If necessary, continue simmering uncovered to reduce the sauce.
Discard the cilantro bouquet, garnish with the freshly chopped herbs, and serve directly from the tagine with Moroccan bread for scooping up the meat and vegetables.
Alternative Preparation in a Conventional Pot
In a large pot, mix the meat with the onions, garlic, spices and oil. Brown the meat, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups of water and the cilantro bouquet, and bring to a simmer. Cover, and cook over medium heat for about an hour, checking the liquids occasionally.
Add the peas (and enough water to cover if necessary) and continue simmering for about 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and zucchini and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Reduce the liquids until they're a thick sauce and discard the cilantro bouquet.
Carefully arrange the tagine on a large platter, garnish with the freshly chopped cilantro, and serve with bread.