Introduction: Chicken and Butternut Squash Tagine With Herbed Couscous: Or, a Delicious, Healthy Stew
This is a recipe for people who love food and love cooking. It sounds and tastes and feels exotic (I had to look up how to pronounce "tagine"), but it is not difficult. It takes a bit of time to chop all the vegetables (especially if you do it slowly and relish the beautiful produce on your cutting board, like I do). The recipe suggests buying already-chopped vegetables to save more time. You could also chop everything up a day or so ahead of time to speed things along. (Oh for a sous chef.)
The recipe also suggests that tagines are normally simmered for many hours. The original recipe (Clean Eating, April 2017, page 73) does not include a slow simmering, but I did simmer mine all day long.
It was a success with my two year old and my vegetable-hating husband.
It could easily be made vegan if you substitute vegetable broth and leave out the chicken. Substitute rice for couscous for a gluten-free option.
Step 1: Ingredients
Aren't these ingredients BEAUTIFUL?!?!
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
1/4 cup organic golden raisins (or sultana raisins)
4 Roma tomatoes, each cored and cut into 8 wedges
3 cloves garlic, peel on
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces (I used chicken breasts)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 tsp each ground cumin, ground ginger, ground turmeric and smoked paprika
1 15 oz BPA-free can unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I omitted this because I forgot to pick it up at the grocery store AND my husband doesn't like chickpeas anyway. So I didn't even check to see if a neighbor could bail me out. I like chickpeas and think it would be good with it, but I also didn't miss them.)
2 cups peeled, seeded and diced butternut squash
1 each cinnamon stick and bay leaf (I did call for help when I realized I was out of bay leaves. Thank God for neighbors who will run spices across the street in a minute.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
Step 2: Make the Couscous
In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a boil. To a heatproof bowl, add couscous and raisins. (If you've never cooked raisins in your pasta or rice, it is SO much better than I could have ever imagined). Pour 2 1/2 cups broth over top. Cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap and set aside. Set remaining broth aside.
Step 3: Chop and Roast Some Veggies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a large parchment-lined baking sheet, arrange tomatoes, onion and garlic. Drizzle 1 tbsp. oil over top. Toss. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until softened and beginning to turn golden brown.
Step 4: Blend Sauce
Remove garlic peel. I also removed the tomato skins, because I HATE tomato skins. Transfer roasted veggies to a blender along with remaining 1 1/2 cups broth. Blend until smooth.
Step 5: Cook Chicken
Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large deep skillet or saute pan on medium-high, heat 1 tbsp. oil. Add chicken and saute, stirring often, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. (It took much longer than 6 minutes for mine.) Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Step 6: Saute Veggies
In same skillet on medium-high, heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil. Add carrot and celery and saute until softened, about 4 minutes.
Step 7: Season It Up
Add cumin, ginger, turmeric and paprika and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. (These spices are SO beautiful!!!)
Step 8: Add Chicken
Return chicken and any juices to skillet.
The original recipe added in squash, chickpeas, remaining seasoning and sauce at the same time, but I layered them in.
Step 9: Add the Squash
After the chicken was well-coated with seasoning, I added the squash. (This is also when you would add the chick peas.)
Step 10: Add the Sauce
Add in the blended tomato mixture, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. (I simmered for about 6 hours.) Discard cinnamon stick and bay leaf before serving.
Step 11: Finish It Off and Plate It Up
Stir 2 Tbsp cilantro into couscous mixture and divide among 4 plates. Top with chicken mixture and sprinkle servings with remaining cilantro.
I mixed the couscous and stew to store in the refrigerator for leftovers the following day.
Additional note: This was my first time cooking couscous. I'm hooked.