Christmas is such a ridiculously over-indulgent time isn't it? We've managed to avoid food overload this year and were more than satisfied with one decent meal on Christmas Day at around 3pm and then a couple of sweet treats of a chocolate nature as we watched tv in the evening. If we're at home, that's the norm for us though. We may have something like a bacon sarnie if we get up early enough at the weekends, but tend to eat our main meal around 5.30 and that's enough for us.
My son and my other half are real carnivores and for them, a meal is not a meal unless at least a third of the plate is covered with meat! I can honestly take it or leave it and my daughter would live off jacket potatoes if she could. Indeed I was a vegetarian for a number of years in my youth and quite often still choose the veggie options if I'm eating out.
One of my very favourite veggie recipes at the moment, which is perfect for these cool winter evenings, is a vegetable tagine. It's a hearty winter vegetable stew, flavoured with just the right amount of warming spice, yet not too hot so as to blow your head off.
I found this recipe in one of my Slimming World cook books and they suggest to look out for a Moroccan spice mix called Ras -El- Hanout to replace the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric. I'd never heard of it before but found a packet of the spice in the 'world foods' aisle and I have to say it's A.Mazing! Such a fragrant mix of spices which actually includes ground rose petals. I would certainly recommend that you give it a try if you don't have it in your spice rack. It usually comprises Black Pepper, Coriander, Ginger, Paprika, Allspice, Cardamom, Mace, Nutmeg, Turmeric, Cayenne, Cloves and Rose Petals although I would hazard a guess that each proprietory brand has it's own special mixture and having done a bit of Google investigating, the mixture can comprise between ten and one hundred different spices! Lliterally translated, Ras El Hanout means "top of the shop" and can also be used as a marinade when added to a couple of tablespoons of oil and rubbed into fish or meat.
Anyways - here's the tagine recipe - You can adapt the veggies to your own preference, but here's what I use:-
2 x large Carrots
1/2 a medium Butternut Squash
2 x Sweet Potatoes
2 x average sized normal Potatoes
Tin of chopped Tomatoes
1 large Onion
2 x garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon finely grated root ginger
1/2 teaspoon of artificial sweetener or sugar
1 teaspoons each of ground coriander, turmeric and dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoons each of ground cumin and ground cinnamon
Salt and Black Pepper
250ml vegetable stock
**if you do manage to find the ras el hanout, then use one and a half teaspoons of the spice, but you can then leave out the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric.
Chop the veggies into bite size pieces. Literally stick everything into a large pan, bring to the boil, cover, and simmer until the veggies are tender - or to your taste, the butternut squash may take a little longer but the stew will not suffer for extra cooking time. (Indeed it's as is usual with spiced recipes - this improves over time and is even more wondrous next day!). Season to your taste and serve with couscous or rice. You could sprinkle over some fresh chopped coriander if you like. I also like a big blob of natural yoghurt on the top of it too. YUM!!
This is a wonderful meal on it's own but for the ardent carnivores amongst us it could also be used as a tasty side dish alongside your haunch of venison or suckling pig!!
N.B. I've been advised that the commenting malarkey is a bit hit and miss right now - and here I was thinking you'd all deserted me!! I'm not sure why this should be - I've tweaked the settings and hopefully this has rectified the problem but if not - then I'm not sure what else to do. Answers on ... erm... well - it'll have to be a postcard I guess!!