For our anniverary dinner I wanted to make something a little special for Adam and I. I think Moroccan food definitely fits the bill. How can you NOT like Moroccan food? I always wished Adam and I came from Sephardic backgrounds instead of Ashkanazi, because the Jews from North Africa eat WAY better food than what is traditionally eaten by us folks from Eastern Europe.
A tajine is actually an earthenware pot in which stews in Morocco are often cooked.
I don't have one, but I promise you it is not necessary in order to create an incredibly mouth-watering stew. I couldn't believe how easy this dish was, especially given how fabulous it turned out. You really just dump all the ingredients into a large stew pot and let it simmer until the meat is cooked.
I roasted my veggies in the oven and then added them in towards the end because my stew pot wasn't large enough to cook everything down. But this worked out amazingly because the veggies got carmelized and then when I stirred them into the tajine before serving, they absorbed all the yummy flavours of the sauce.
Its the perfect balance of salty (from the olives), sweet (from the prunes), spicy (from the harissa), and tangy (from the lemon and tomatoes). You could even make a great vegan dish by subbing chickpeas for the chicken and vegetable stock for the chicken stock.
This makes a lot, so it is a perfect recipe if you are feeding a crowd, or want leftovers. And believe me, you will want leftovers! It also freezes well so you can have another scrumptious meal waiting for you when you are short on time to cook.
Serve over saffron rice (made with brown basmati rice) as I did, or quinoa, or whole grain couscous.
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Onion, thinly sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls harissa spice blend (President's Choice makes one, and you can also find it at William Sonoma...for twice the price!)*
1 cup pitted green olives
1 cup prunes (or raisins)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1-680ml jar passata (strained tomatoes)
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful fresh mint, chopped
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Place onion, garlic, chicken, olives, prunes and seasonings in a large pot over medium heat. Once onions and chicken start to sizzle, pour in stock, juice and tomato puree and stir everything together. Make sure chicken is completely covered and add more stock, if necessary. Turn heat to low and cover pot. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through (about an hour). Stir in mint and parsley just before serving. Serve over rice, quinoa or couscous.
*Harissa is somewhat spicy, so use less if you want less heat. You can make your own with a combination of hot chili or cayenne pepper, coriander, chili powder, cumin and caraway seeds.
2 lb parsnips, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 small zucchini, quarted lengthwise and then cut into thirds
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbls red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toss veggies with vinegar and seasonings. Spread on foil lined baking sheets and bake at 350F for about 45 minutes. Stir into tajine before serving.
Actually, I realized later on that it would have been most appropriate to make my homemade vegetarian pizza for our dinner, since this is what I made the night he proposed to me. No regrets though, this was a fantastic meal!