Prune and Turnip Tagine
8 ounces shallots
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (may substitute olive oil)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1½ pounds turnips (4 medium or 6 to 7 baby turnips), peeled and cut into large chunks
2 medium carrots, scrubbed well and cut into ½-inch pieces
1¾ cups no-salt-added or homemade vegetable broth
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in a splash of boiling water
About 10 ounces (2 cups) soft pitted prunes
1½ tablespoons runny honey
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, or more as needed
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted (see note)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, roasted or toasted (see note)
½ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. If using a tagine, set the oven racks to easily accommodate it.
If the shallots are particularly large and multi-lobed, separate them into individual lobes.
Heat the oil and butter in a Dutch oven (or the base of a cast-iron tagine, if you are using one) over medium heat. (If your tagine is made of flameproof clay, start over low heat and gradually increase it to medium.) Add the shallots, toss to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are lightly browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turnips and carrots, and stir to combine. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, until the spices become fragrant, then pour in the broth and soaked saffron threads. Increase the heat slightly to bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat and stir in the prunes, honey and the ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Taste, and add more salt as needed.
Cover and transfer to the oven; bake until the vegetables are tender, 30-40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with the almonds, sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve hot with couscous or bread and a salad.
Serves four to six.
Cook's note: Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan as needed to prevent scorching. Toast the sesame seeds, separately, in the same way. The cooked tagine may be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Nutrition values per serving (based on 6): 320 calories, 5 g protein, 60 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 9 g fiber, 36 g sugar.
Adapted from "The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian" by Sally Butcher (Interlink, 2014)