So what the heck-a-rooney is a tagine anyway? According to Wikipedia, and my tagine-cooking fanatic co-worker who first introduced me to the word, a tagine (or tajine) is named after a special earthenware pot used for slow-cooked stews. As you might know by now, my kitchen is not highly sophisticated in the way of foreign appliances (or appliances period), so I bring you the cast iron skillet tagine aided by my friend Shoshi’s molcajetelugged back from Oaxaca, Mexico! Remarkable.
* Let it be known that I do recoil at using the word “organic”, which in the age of green-washing means jack squat. However, if buying from the supermarket, and you have two options for food that directly come into contact with on-farm chemicals and then your mouth (conventional or organic), go with organic. For produce like oranges or avocados that are slightly more protected from spraying by their peel, there may be no need to pay an organic premium. I’m happy to have an entire discussion on this with anyone who is interested!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small yellow onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-inch ginger root, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 dried red chili pepper with seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon, freshly ground pepper
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can coconut milk, not lite
- 5 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups parsley, rinsed and chopped
- First, open all windows and doors. You'll appreciate this in five minutes when you start to toast the coriander, cumin and chili pepper in a small skillet. Careful not to burn. When the aroma is strong (or you start coughing), remove from heat and transfer to a mortar and pestle, or a molcajete (a big, coarse, stone mortar and pestle). Grind. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a big cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and all spices and seasonings. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Stir well and saute for a couple minutes until garlic is golden.
- Add the can of tomatoes (do not strain out the juice) and simmer covered for about five minutes. Add the coconut milk, stir well, and and simmer again, covered, for about five minutes or until the tomatoes melt into a thick, rich sauce (see picture below). Taste test and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Add in the squash, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes over low heat, or until the squash is tender and begins to fall apart.
- Add in half the parsley and stir in well.
- Serve garnish with parsley and a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream if you have some (to help cut the spice!). Really delicious!