The Best Pasta Sauce

It’s really funny how this one came about.


At the end of last year, my dad brought home about 30 tomatoes. No joke, my kitchen was overflowing with this bright red fruit (vegetable?). I honestly feel uncomfortable calling a tomato a fruit, it just doesn’t feel right.


If you’ve read my post on this simple spinach and parmesan pesto, you’ll know that I love pasta from my head to-ma-toes. It’s honestly the best thing on this planet, next to chocolate of course. If there are two things that are meant to be together in this world, they are pasta and tomatoes. To be more specific, tomatoes that have been simmered for a couple of hours, with fresh fragrant herbs mixed in to give it that enticing aroma and I am going to stop before I drown in a pool of my own drool. Tomato sauce is okay, marinara sauce is great but this version is the best. After many weeks of tweaking and adjusting, I have finally come up with the variation of this sauce that I love the most.


Once made, don’t keep this to yourself, share it with others! I have a friend who brings pasta to school every single day for lunch. I have known him for 4 years now, and he’s still bringing pasta to school. No joke. Every day without fail, one of his parents will deliver a lunchbox with pasta to school. Just to mix things up a little, I decided to give him a jar full of this sauce to try out at home. I can confidently assure you that it received his stamp of approval and it’s the reason why you see this post up today. Shout out to all my pasta lovers out there.



The Best Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6-8 medium fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (IN CASE OF EMERGENCY use 3×14 oz tinned tomatoes, but the taste won’t be nearly the same)
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • a handful of fresh rosemary (may sub 2 tsp dried rosemary)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn (may sub 2 tsp dried basil)
  • a handful of fresh oregano (may sub 2 tsp dried oregano)

Method

Heat a heavy bottomed cast iron pot on high and add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Fry the onion until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock and herbs. Give the tomatoes a quick stir and season with salt and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the tomatoes have cooked down released their juices. If you’d like your sauce to be chunky, then great news, you’re all done! Store in a sterilised glass jar in the fridge for up to a month. If you’d like a smooth sauce then add the contents of the pot to a blender and puree for 2 minutes or until there are no longer any large tomato pieces before adding to a glass jar for storage. Use in pastas, as a base for pizza or as a sandwich spread (as my friend recently started doing). Enjoy!

 

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Cosy Winter Vegetable Pot Pie

My mother needed an excuse to make puff pastry, and as my head is already set in the ‘Winter Dishes’ mood, I decided that a cosy pot pie was in order.


With only 3 months left before I depart for the University of Pennsylvania, my mother is desperately trying to gauge my culinary knowledge before she’s left alone in the kitchen. So this weekend she came up with a proposition: for me to teach her how to make puff pastry. Alors, we spent all of Sunday afternoon rolling and making pastry turns until our arms got tired. But hey, it yielded this wonderfully flaky pastry, didn’t she do a good job?


My brother is a huge fan of pot pies. Whenever we go out for dinner, that is his go-to order unless there are ribs on the menu of course. As a vegetarian, I couldn’t grant his wish for sticky barbecue ribs but I was able to deliver with these steaming flavourful pot pies. For a fancy dinner-party worthy dish, these are incredibly easy to prepare. 

As we in Zimbabwe are preparing for winter, I’ll be whipping up a big batch of puff pastry with my mother just so we can have these pies as and when we please!


Cosy Winter Vegetable Pot Pie                                                                             serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 250g white button mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup dry brown/red lentils (I used a mixture)
  • ¾ cup split green peas
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • some salt and pepper to season
  • 1 sheet puff pastry

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Heat a large cast iron pot on high and fry the onions until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic and carrots and cook until the vegetables are tender and the garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally to prevent the garlic from burning, for 5-7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add another splash of vegetable oil with the flour and toss until the vegetables are coated in flour and you have a thick paste, as if you’re making a roux for Bechamel sauce. Pour the vegetable stock into the pot and stir to dissolve the flour in the stock. Once dissolved, add the lentils and split green peas and stir to distribute. Add the oregano, cinnamon, thyme and some S&P to taste.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil before reducing the heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils and peas are soft and cooked through. You’re going to want to watch the pot very carefully here as the mixture will thicken considerably and will burn if left for too long. If the mixture seems very thick and the pulses haven’t cooked as yet, add a cup of water to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Grease a 9×13 dish (bear in mind the pastry will only cover the top of the dish if you use this) or an 8 inch pie dish (will cover bottom and top) or 4 different 5 inch pie dishes (will cover top and bottom). Roll the puff pastry out to the desired size then trim to fit your chosen vessel. If not using the 9×13 dish, the fit the puff pastry in the bottom and sides of the dish.
  5. Once the filling has cooked distribute it evenly amongst the serving plates. Cover with the remaining puff pastry. If you have scrap puff pastry, you can use a cookie cutter to cut shapes into it and use it as a topping like what I did with these stars. Bake in the preheated oven for 37-40 minutes or until the pastry is deep golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes at room temperature before serving. Leftovers will keep sealed tightly in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

30 Minute Mexican Potato and Kale Anytime Hash

The 30 minute dinner of my dreams.Whenever I’m tired, uninspired or just lazy to cook, this is what I have for dinner. Roasted potatoes cooked in a tomato sauce and topped with a runny poached egg; what more could I want? What I love about this recipe is that it isn’t strict or bound by a set of predetermined rules. Only got sweet potatoes? That’s fine, sub them in. Hate spicy food? Leave the cayenne pepper out. Are you pressed for time? Take a shortcut and fry the potatoes on the stove top instead of roasting them in the oven.

This recipe is full of glorious shortcuts and magical alteration options, you can top it with more fresh herbs, some grated cheese (or nutritional yeast if vegan), sour cream, the options are endless! Go forth my lovelies: cook dinner, take photos, tag me in your photos, I’d love to see what you come up with! Happy weekend!

30 Minute Mexican Potato and Kale Anytime Hash

Ingredients

For the potatoes:

  • 2 Russet potatoes, washed, unpeeled and chopped into bite sized pieces (may sub sweet potatoes)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp each salt and black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground mustard
  • ½ tsp dried oregano

For the hash:

  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup chopped kale

optional for serving: poached egg (here’s a handy guide), nutritional yeast, whole grain toast or parmesan cheese

Method

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. In a large bowl, throw together all the ingredients for the potatoes and shake until the potatoes are covered in spice. Lay the potatoes in a single layer on a large baking tray and roast for 20 minutes or until browned and crispy on the outside.

Once the potatoes have roasted, heat a deep cast iron pot on high, add a glug of vegetable oil and fry the diced onion until translucent, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat before adding the tomato paste. Cook until the tomato paste has caramelised, being careful not to let it burn, another 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and stir until everything has combined. Add the kale and roasted potatoes to the pot and stir to coat in the sauce. Cook on low heat until the kale has softened, about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately topped with a poached egg (omit if vegan), nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese! Leftovers keep well in the fridge and make a delicious lunch, enjoy!

Roasted Buffalo Chickpea and Cauliflower Stuffed Baked Potatoes

The recipe title is a mouthful, but this meal is every bit as tantalising as you would expect it to be.


Last week, I picked up a bunch of cauliflower at the store so I had been meaning to make something along the lines of roasted cauliflower. The problem was: how would I turn that into a recipe? Would I serve it over rice and style it as General Tso Cauliflower? Or would I whip up an Asian style sweet and sour sauce and wrap them in lettuce leaves to make pretty wraps? There were so many options but none of them really stuck out at me. That was until I came across this recipe by The First Mess. Laura’s blog is super neat, and her website is a staple for anyone who’s already on a plant based diet or is looking to include more vegan recipes in their diet. She also just released her first cookbook and it’s full of the most amazing recipes!

I took a different path to Laura in this recipe by choosing to dip the cauliflower florets in batter and roasting them just to make them that much more crunchy. I also decided to roast the chickpeas because I was looking for something I could snack on during shooting #sorrynotsorry.


If there’s anything I’m going to tell you today it’s to stop everything you’re doing and make this right now. Understood? Good, now let’s get in the kitchen!


Roasted Buffalo Chickpea and Cauliflower Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Ingredients

For the buffalo seasoning:

  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • ½ tsp onion powder

For the potatoes:

  • 4 Russet potatoes, washed (leave the skin on)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • ½ tsp garlic powder

For the stuffing:

  • 1 small head of cauliflower, about 3 cups chopped cauliflower florets
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 4 tsp of the buffalo seasoning, separated into 2 tsp + 2 tsp
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup soaked but uncooked chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the buffalo sauce:

  • 1 cup hot sauce of your choosing
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (may increase if you want to reduce the heat)
  • 2 tsp of the buffalo seasoning
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Optional for serving: nutritional yeast flakes, fresh herbs, ranch dressing

Method

  1. Start by preparing the buffalo seasoning. Combine all the ingredients in a ramekin and mix well. Use as directed in the rest of the recipe. You may increase the quantity if you wish and keep any extras to use in other recipes.
  2. Add the potatoes to a baking tray. In a ramekin/small bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, mixed herbs and garlic powder for the potatoes. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and drizzle the oil mixture over the potatoes. Bake in an oven at 180°C/350°F for approximately 1 hour, or until a fork easily pierces the potato.
  3. Whilst the potatoes are baking, chop the head of cauliflower into small florets. Line a 9×12 roasting pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, 2 tsp of the buffalo seasoning and water until you have a thick batter.
  4. Dip the cauliflower florets into the batter before laying them on the baking sheet. If you’re like me and the thought of dipping each cauliflower floret sounds like madness, add the cauliflower florets to the bowl and shake until the florets are covered in batter. Use a fork to transfer the florets from the batter to the roasting pan, letting any excess batter drip off. Roast the cauliflower at 180°C/350°F for 20 minutes.
  5. Drizzle the chickpeas with the olive oil and roast in the oven at 180°C/350°F for 20 minutes then remove the chickpeas from the oven and set aside. Meanwhile, prepare the buffalo sauce.
  6. Add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil then turn off the heat but don’t remove from the pot as yet.
  7. Once the cauliflower has been roasting for 20 minutes, pour about a cup of the buffalo sauce over the cauliflower and toss until coated. Return the cauliflower to the oven for another 10 minutes or until the sauce has bonded to the cauliflower.
  8. Pour the remaining buffalo sauce over the chickpeas and toss to coat.
  9. Once the potatoes have finished baking, remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle them with your hands. Slice the potatoes in half longitudinally, and then scoop out the soft middle. You can mash this and eat separately if desired- I just mashed the insides and added them straight back to the potatoes. Add the potato halves back to the baking tray before spooning the buffalo cauliflower into the middle of the potato followed by the chickpeas. Repeat until you’ve used up all the potatoes. Return to the oven for 10 minutes to warm through then serve immediately with nutritional yeast, fresh herbs and ranch dressing. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The First Mess

Butternut Squash & Kale Ravioli

Homemade pasta is one of the most irresistible things on this planet- hands down.


And making homemade pasta is one of the most therapeutic activities on this planet. Don’t shoot me but I’d much rather spend an afternoon kneading soft pasta dough and rolling it out to the perfect thickness than at a loud music festival. Is that weird for an 18 year old girl?


So let’s get down to business. Start with the fresh pasta dough because that’s where most of your time is going to be devoted. This was my first time making vegan pasta dough and to be honest with you, it was incredibly soft and flexible despite the lack of proteins from the egg whites. Just for reference, I prepared fresh non-vegan pasta dough 2 days later just to remind myself of the differences. The non-vegan dough still proved to be softer than a Downy feather pillow but it was harder for me to get the non-vegan dough to the same thickness. So the’re essentially in pros and cons. They both make amazing bases for your pasta dishes so go with whichever you like.

The butternut squash is roasted to get the ultimate caramelisation, and if you haven’t tried it yet, get in your kitchen and combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle that all over your butternut squash! After 30 minutes in the oven the squash is fork tender and browned and oozing all kinds of flavour, it’s so lush. 

Butternut Squash & Kale Ravioli                                                                        serves 4 people 

Ingredients

For the ravioli:

  • 2 cups Italian 00 flour (if you can’t get it then any other kind of flour will work)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • some extra flour for dusting the work surface

For the filling:

  • ½ a medium butternut, peeled and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp each salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup kale, chopped (may substitute spinach or Swiss chard)
  • 2 cups boiling water

For serving:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, whole
  • a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs (optional)

Method

  1. Start by preparing the pasta. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt and toss lightly to combine. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water and olive oil. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together before removing to a floured surface and kneading. The dough should be soft, smooth and elastic. If the dough is sticking to your hands/the surface then add a little bit more flour. If the dough is dry and falling apart then add water, 2 tbsp at a time until it holds together.
  2. Once the dough is smooth and feels elastic, roll it into a bowl and cover tightly with cling wrap and let rest 30 minutes. This will help the dough to become more flexible.
  3. Whilst the dough is resting, get started on the filling. Add the cubed butternut squash to a large bowl and top with the olive oil, brown sugar and all the spices. Toss to ensure the butternut is covered in the spices. Lay in a single layer on a roasting pan and roast at 200°C for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  4. In a medium saucepan, cover the chopped kale in the boiling water and let sit submerged for 5 minutes. Drain the kale in a colander and squeeze with your hands to get all the excess water out. Let the kale cool before you start squeezing because it will still be scorching hot from the water. Once drained, the kale will be about the size of a golfball.
  5. Once the butternut has cooled, add it to a small bowl and mash with a fork until no large lumps remain. Add the kale and mix until evenly distributed. Set aside.
  6. Once rested, split the pasta dough in half (I find it difficult to roll out all the dough at once, it’s easier if you split it in half but if you’re short on time then go ahead and roll all of it out at the same time). Cover one half in cling wrap, I find that the dough tends to dry out quickly if left exposed too long. Roll one half of the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 3-4 mm thick. If you have a pasta machine then just follow the instructions to get the pasta to this thickness.
  7. Use a cookie cutter, or a clean glass to cut circles (or squares if you wish) out of the dough. Collect any scraps and form into a ball. Repeat step 6 to roll it to 3mm thick and cut into more ravioli circles. Once you have all your ravioli shapes assembled, allocate half of them to be used for the bottom and the other half for the top.
  8. Grab about a teaspoon of the butternut kale filling you set aside aside earlier and lay it in the middle of a ravioli circle. Cover it with one of the ravioli circles that was allocated for the top and use a fork (or your hands if you wish) to seal the edges. Brush the top with a little bit of cold water just to help seal them. Repeat this step until you’ve used up all the ravioli circles. Then repeat steps 6-8 for the other half of pasta dough that you set aside. Now you have ravioli!*
  9. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Reduce the heat such that the water is at a gentle rolling boil. Cook the ravioli in the boiling water in batches for 10 minutes, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Stir occasionally to prevent the ravioli from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove from the water and drain on paper towels.
  10. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil along with the garlic, rosemary and mixed herbs until fragrant. Reduce the heat to low. Add the cooked ravioli in batches to the pan and turn the pan gently to coat the ravioli in the mixture. Once warmed (takes less than 2 minutes) remove the ravioli to a pasta bowl and drizzle with the herbed olive oil. Serve and enjoy!

Notes:

*At this point, the ravioli can be frozen and kept for a later date. Before cooking, defrost fully and follow the remaining steps to produce a perfect batch of ravioli!

Lentil Spinach Quesadillas with Guacamole

Happy Friday y’all!


Today I bring you your latest obsession: these quesadillas. Being the only vegetarian in my household, cooking plant based meals that people actually enjoy has proven to be my toughest challenge. I’m perfectly happy eating a couscous salad but that wouldn’t please my rugby playing brother. My health conscious mother isn’t very comfortable eating starch-dense potatoes lathered in mountains of cheese and herbs (ugh heaven).


However, these quesadillas have finally cracked the code! The crispy, cheesy quesadillas keep my brother from forgetting that there’s no meat involved, and the cheese-less version kept my mother from complaining about her waistline. It’s a win-win!


These make the perfect chilled Friday dinner, weekend barbecue meal or even as a lunchbox staple. Do yourself a favour and make these this weekend for ultimate #weekendgoals. If you do decide to let quesadillas be a part of your life, make sure to let me know by dropping me an email, or contacting me through my Instagram or Facebook. Happy weekend lovers!


Lentil Spinach Quesadillas with Guacamole

Ingredients

For the quesadillas:

  • 1 cup brown dry lentils
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1×14 oz can tinned tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • some salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 2 cups mozzarella + 2 cups cheddar, mixed in a bowl (omit if vegan, the quesadillas hold together pretty well without cheese)
  • 8× 12 inch tortilla wraps

For the guacamole:

  • 1 very ripe, very soft avocado
  • ½ small red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander/cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Method

For the guacamole:

Mash the avocado until soft. Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the onion and cilantro are evenly distributed. I wouldn’t advise preparing this more than an hour in advance, but if need be, then lay a piece of cling film directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent it from browning and store in the fridge until needed. Will not keep more than 2 days.

For the quesadillas: 

  1. Start by cooking the lentils. Add the dry lentils to a medium saucepan, cover with 2 cups of water (or vegetable broth if you wish) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are swollen and soft.
  2. Meanwhile, heat some cooking oil in a deep cast iron pan and fry the onions on high until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cinnamon, oregano and cumin and toss until the onion is coated in the spices.
  3. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and vegetable broth, season liberally with salt and pepper and bring the mix to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook until the lentils are done.
  4. Chop the spinach into ribbons and throw it in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over the spinach and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze the spinach to get rid of all the water (be careful, it may still be searing from the hot water) and set aside.
  5. Once the lentils are cooked, add them and the blanched spinach to the tomato mixture and let cook another 5 minutes. Once the spinach has cooked down and softened, remove the pot from heat.
  6. It’s time to assemble the quesadillas! If non-vegan, sprinkle about ¼ cup of the mixed cheeses  evenly on top of one tortilla, leaving about a one centimetre border. Top in a uniform layer with ¼ cup of the lentil spinach mixture, and finally another ¼ cup of cheese.  Lay another tortilla on top and press down on the quesadilla. Repeat until you’ve used up all the tortillas and have 4 whole quesadillas.
  7. Heat a large nonstick frying pan on medium-high heat. Carefully life one quesadilla and lay it on the hot frying pan. Let cook for 2 minutes before carefully flipping over and cooking on the other side for another 2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat for all the quesadillas
  8.  Let them rest for 5 minutes before cutting into quarters and serving hot! Serve with the guacamole and enjoy!

 

Adapted from Pinch Of Yum

Moroccan Chickpea and Roasted Cauliflower Tagine

Recently, I’ve been craving a dish with origins in the Maghreb area. Before giving up meat, lamb tagine was one of my favourite dishes to cook. Having become vegetarian, I have been looking for ways to recreate the same spicy yet sweet flavours of Morocco that I had come to enjoy.


A couple of years ago I bought my mother a cookbook on all things Morocco for her birthday. She had become obsessed with Marrakesh after one particular episode of The Amazing Race and she had added it to her list of places to travel to. Since then she’s visited the pyramids in Egypt, Interlaken in Switzerland and NgoroNgoro in Tanzania but Morocco hasn’t been fitted into her schedule as yet. Instead, we take a journey to Casablanca through our tastebuds and the magnificent cookbook that explains every aspect of Moroccan culture.


As a veggie, I’ve found that there aren’t that many options for vegetarian tagine, I couldn’t find a single recipe in that book! Refusing to give up, I modified the lamb tagine recipe, substituting lamb for chickpeas, and adding some of my own flair to this recipe via the roasted cauliflower. All the other ingredients are typical of a tagine and I beg you to not be thrown by the seemingly long ingredient list- you can do it! This is not a particularly fussy dish, you don’t need to spend 3 hours in the kitchen preparing it. This is easy enough to be a weekly staple in your household yet sophisticated enough to wow your dinner party guests.


I don’t own a traditional tagine, the closest thing we have in my house is this clay pot that my mother received as a gift for her 23rd birthday (centuries ago) but it does the job with no fuss. The only thing it lacks is the conical top of a tagine otherwise it does a splendid job at keeping the juices locked in. If you don’t own a tagine then there is no need to cry, you can use any heavy bottomed cast iron pot that you would otherwise use for stewing meat.

I hope that this dish opens you up to the flavours of Morocco and inspires you to try more North African dishes! On the blog, I already posted this easy Shakshuka recipe that has origins in North Africa but is eaten as far as Israel! Whoa! Once you’re satisfied with this bad boy, you should totally give it a try for breakfast the next morning.

Moroccan Chickpea and Roasted Cauliflower Tagine                                                  serves 4 

Ingredients

For the tagine: 

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flaked, blanched almonds
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • a couple of sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 small chillies, deseeded and sliced thinly (optional)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 200g tinned tomatoes/½ can tinned tomatoes
  • 1×400g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 prunes, soaked in cold water for an hour
  • 2 tbsp honey

For the roasted cauliflower: 

  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp runny honey (if not runn, microwave for 30 seconds)

For the buttery couscous: 

  • 1 cup couscous (I used apricot and cashew flavour but if using plain, you may add soaked dried apricot and chopped cashews to the mixture)
  • 1 and ½ cups boiling water
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter (omit if vegan)

To serve:

  • a couple of rotis to mop up the soup
  • fresh herbs
  • yogurt if you find it too spicy

Make the tagine: 

  1. In a tagine or a large heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter/heat the olive oil and toast the almonds on low heat for 3 minutes or until deeply browned.
  2. Increase the heat and saute the onions until soft, 2 minutes. Throw in the garlic, ginger, rosemary, chillies, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon sticks. Cook until the spices are fragrant and the onions have cooked down, about 5 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and the tinned tomatoes, stir well and bring to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, add the chickpeas and stir to coat in the stew.
  3. Cover the pot/tagine with the lid and simmer for 25 minutes. My clay pot was an awkward size and wasn’t heated evenly by the stove so I cooked mine in the oven at 180°C for 30 minutes. Either works perfectly fine so you can go with whatever works best for you. Meanwhile, work on the roasted cauliflower (instructions below).
  4. After 30 minutes, stir the stew and season with salt and pepper. Add the prunes and roasted cauliflower to the pot and simmer for a further 15 minutes. During this time, you can prepare the couscous (instructions below).
  5. Just before serving, stir in the honey to sweeten the dish and season with salt and pepper a final time. Serve hot, garnish with extra almonds and fresh parsley and serve with rotis and the buttery couscous.

To make the roasted cauliflower: 

In a large bowl, toss together all the ingredients for the roasted cauliflower and lay in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast for 20 minutes before removing from the oven to cool. I saved a couple of roasted cauliflower florets to garnish and make the dish look prety when serving.

To prepare the couscous:

Add the dry couscous to an ovenproof bowl (I used a Pyrex dish). Dissolve the salt in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Set aside for 10 minutes in order for the couscous to absorb the liquid. Once absorbed, pour the olive oil over the couscous and use your hands to rub it into the couscous and break up any large clumps that may have formed. Dollop pieces of the butter over the surface of the couscous before covering the dish with aluminium foil, and leaving in an oven preheated to 180°C for 15 minutes to warm through. Remove from the oven and serve hot!