Moroccan Vegetable Tagine Is Made Easy With 2 Store-Bought Staples

Trips to Morocco involve a few must-do experiences. Walks through the famous souks of cities like Marrakech, Fez, and Casablanca will tempt you with endless street foods of the like crepe-style msemen and fried potato dumplings called makouda. At the same time, restaurants will thrill your senses with traditional dishes like harira, fish chermoula, b'ssara, and of course, tagine — all of which you'll be left missing on your return home.

Alas, if you don't live close to any restaurants that offer tagine, your only choice will be to make it yourself. But when it comes to dishes like this, that's far from an easy task. Thankfully, rather than slaving away in your kitchen for hours, there are two store-bought staples you can pick up on your next grocery trip that will make it easier to make: frozen squash and canned chickpeas. Having these ingredients on hand will cut your tagine's prep time from one to two hours to as little as just 30 minutes. 

How to make tagine at home

In Morocco, a tagine isn't just a flavorful stew; it's also traditional Moroccan cookware — which is ideal for achieving the rich flavors of the slow-cooked stews that share the same name. While there are many different types of tagines and prep time is often dependent on the type of ingredients you use, even traditional vegetarian tagines can take longer than an hour to prepare. Fortunately, slow, time-consuming cooking isn't necessary for great flavor. By throwing in some frozen squash rather than fresh and opting for canned beans instead of dried ones your tagine can be done in a quarter of the time without any cost to the finished product. That is, as long as you flavor it right.

Tagines are famous because they balance sweet and savory flavors with intense spices. So, while you can cut corners by using canned and frozen ingredients, you shouldn't skimp on the seasonings. That means that after you've sauteed your onions, you should throw in a good amount of cumin and cinnamon along with your canned chickpeas. When the spices are nice and toasted and the aromas start to release, you can then throw in the tomatoes along with some water to simmer for a while before adding the squash.  Because the squash is frozen, it'll be tender in about five minutes. From there, everything just needs a good stir and another 5 minutes or to thicken before you're ready to plate it up with some couscous and eat.