Wednesday, March 11, 2009
My Italian Grandmother goes Moroccan!
Well, that certainly would never happen if Nanny was still alive. She shunned all things not Italian unless it was Wonton Soup and Lo Mein. What can I say, she liked to stay true to her roots. I on the other hand am a little more adventurous. A year ago I went to Marakesh, a Moroccan restaurant for the first time. I really enjoyed it, the flavors were so different and the colors so vibrant. I thought about going back many times. Unfortunately, I am the only one in this two person household who had a desire to go back. I still wanted to get my fix so I searched high and low for a recipe that resembled my meal at Marakesh. I found a recipe at a blog called A Weight Lifted: Healthy Weight Loss Blog for Women Tired of Dieting. I wasn't looking for a specifically healthy recipe but if it's healthy then why not? Right?
I made some changes and additions to the recipe so it would be closer to the meal I had at Marakesh. I think I need to improve on it slightly so it fits my taste a little more. I used this recipe as a guide and made the mistake of using the cooking time that was recommended but I forgot (silly me) that I cut the chicken smaller than the recipe stated because that is how I remembered it. Obviously, if you cut the chicken smaller it's going to cook faster. Duh! I know this but I wasn't paying attention. The great thing is that once everything is sliced and diced this doesn't take a long time to make. I would absolutely consider it for a weeknight meal again. In the future I will leave out the zucchini. I love this vegetable in pastas and soups but it just didn't seem to pick up the flavors. A little too bland for me but there was zucchini in my dish at the restaurant. I also don't think I would use diced tomatoes. Maybe some tomato paste and chicken broth. Usually when I use diced tomatoes in a sauce they get very sweet. This didn't happen and the spices just didn't work for me. That could just be because my palate is not used to this. It doesn't mean that it didn't belong there.
A Tagine is a special clay pot with a cone shaped cover that is used in Moroccan cooking. Stew type meals that are cooked in these pots (like the meal I made) are also called Tagines. Now I don't have a traditional Tagine but I used my Le Creuset and it worked wonderfully. Any heavy pot with a tight fitting cover should work.
You can see the original recipe here but I will post it with all my changes and the proper cooking times for how I made it.
Tagine of Moroccan Recipes and Couscous
Adapted from aweightlifted.blogs.com
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup butternut squash, cut into 1- inch pieces
1/2 cup sweet potato, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups diced canned tomatoes
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup zucchini, cut in 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons raisins
1 box Near East Couscous, any flavor you like, prepared as instruced on box
Saute onions in oil until softened. Add garlic and all seasonings, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Add carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash, tomatoes and enough water to cover. (Next time I will try using chicken broth and tomato paste or sauce instead.) Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmering. Let veggies cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Add chicken, raisins and zucchini, stir and cover. Let cook for about 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is tender.
Meanwhile, cook couscous according to package directions.
Serve chicken and veggies on top of couscous.