I was excited when I was asked to give one of our latest products, the ceramic tagine, a trial run. As someone who enjoys cooking, I’ve always been intrigued by the tagine, but didn’t know too much about it. All I know is that it had a conical top (not sure why) and that it is a really beautiful piece.
Before deciding what to make, I did a little online research about the tagine. The tagine is the name of the vessel and the name of the food dish you prepare – think “I made a casserole in the casserole.” Turns out, the cone is designed to encourage any steam to come back down into the food to keep it moist – perfect for braising. I was also looking for recipes for vegetarian tagines and saw a similar pattern – lots of veggies, layered in the bottom of the tagine, add spices, oil, liquid – then cook. Not too complicated.
I decided since it is the best time of year to buy local produce at the market that I would just go and get whatever veggies look the best. I ended up with tomatoes, okra, eggplant, potatoes, onions, red peppers and zucchini.
When I was ready to begin cooking, I took a quick look at the instructions again. Darn it! Turns out I was supposed to “prepare” my tagine before I could use it. This involves soaking the entire thing in cold water for 24-48 hours, letting it dry for a few hours, the rubbing the inside with olive oil and baking in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours. The first step was definitely the trickiest since I didn’t have anything big enough to soak the tagine. Except for my bathtub!
Once the tagine was prepped, it was easy going. I prepped all my veggies, and basically followed directions from there: layer onions and potatoes, pile the other ingredients in a “pyramid”, drizzle with stock and olive oil, sprinkle with spices. The recipe card called for 1 cup of olive oil, which seemed really excessive, so I only used about 1/3 cup. I also added spices that I thought would taste good – cumin, garam masala (a curry powder available at ethnic grocery stores), garlic salt, and smoked paprika. The directions then said to bring the liquid to a simmer over low heat, then cover for 30 minutes. Add olives and raisins, then cover and cook for 10 more minutes.
I decided to serve my tagine with Israeli couscous, which is cooked just like small pasta. Any rice, pasta or grain would have been delicious with the stew. I also topped it with greek yogurt, fresh mint and lemon zest. It was really hearty and delicious.
I really enjoyed using this piece of cookware. As someone who has a fairly large collection of pots, pans, casseroles and dutch ovens, I think the tagine is not something I absolutely need, but I am sure I will use it again. I love the way it looks and it is a beautiful way to serve food as well. Since this piece is very versatile, I would appreciate it if I was someone who was building my cookware collection (it would make a great wedding, or housewarming gift).
Bon apetit, everyone!