I’m not really a fan of crock pot meals. I’m kind of a snob about it. I don’t know, maybe it just reminisces too much with the casserole trend of the 90’s. And/or, let’s be honest here, I find that although the crock pot is very convenient, the flavor of something slow cooked in the crock pot compared to the slow cooking of the oven or stove, simply does not compare.
All that being said, I am posting a recipe for the crock pot. Yes, I am a hypocrite. You see, I have this recipe for a Moroccan vegetable tagine that I love. I want to eat it all the time but it takes 3 hours to slowly simmer into a mouth watering, flavor rich stew. Raise your hand if you have 3 hours to spend on dinner in the middle of the week. So I made it in a crock pot. And while, yes, it’s not as amazing as the traditional version, I came up with a couple tricks to make it almost as good.
It’s sneaky, I know, but sautéing the onions and eggplant with spices before putting them in the crock pot, and then cooking the whole stew for 30 minutes to reduce the liquid after it’s cooked all day gives it that, “I haven’t left the kitchen all day” flavor.
A tagine is a traditional north African stew, mainly Moroccan, that is cooked in beautiful cone shaped earthen wear. Beef, lamb, chicken or vegetables are slowly stewed all day long over slow burning coals. Here is a photo I borrowed from the interwebs.
This dish is crazy healthy, loaded with flavor, and uses September fresh veggies. It’s great with both fluffy couscous or quinoa. This tomatoey, cinnamon scented stew, topped with some fresh herbs, ripe olives and toasted almonds has some crazy wow factor for entertaining but takes so little time you’ll want to eat it on your busiest day of the week.
If you make this recipe, let me know what you think! Leave a comment. If you post a picture on Instagram, make sure to use the hashtag #keepingwillow so I can see it! I always love your pictures.
Love as always
Moroccan Vegetable Tagine [crock pot edition]
1 large sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ras el hanout or recipe here
1 tsp paprika
1 small eggplant, diced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 acorn or small butternut squash, skinned a diced into half inch cubes
1 can or 1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 quart vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro
Kalamata or Manzanilla olives
1. In a large cast iron skillet or sauté pan, on medium high heat, sauté the eggplant in half the olive oil until edges are slightly brown and eggplant is just starting to soften. Add eggplant to crock pot.
2. In the same pan, soften the sliced onions in the remaining olive oil. Give them a good seasoning of salt. When the onions are nice and soft, add the spices and sauté one minute to give them a good toast.
3. Place onions, squash, tomatoes, chick peas and then enough stock to barely come to the top of all the veggies. Season generously with salt and pepper, stir and set on low for 5-6 hours. You can also do all the prep the night before, put the crock pot in the fridge and plug it in the morning.
4. Half an hour before you’re ready to serve, put the stew into a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil and add the raisins. Turn it down a little bit so it’s still kind of boiling but not vigorously. Allow to boil for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
5. While the stew is reducing, toast the almonds in a sauté pan on medium heat until just barely golden. Keep an eye on these, they can burn easily.
6. Serve with couscous or quinoa. Garnish with cilantro, olives and toasted almonds. There is plenty to share or save for lunch the next day.