There is a season: Hearty tagine is a winter warmer

  • Chickpeas and veggies, dried fruits and possibly lamb sausage combine with North African spices for a savory melange. MOLLY PARR

For the Gazette
Published: 1/9/2021 12:55:29 PM
Modified: 1/9/2021 12:55:12 PM

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions. Especially during a pandemic, resolutions seem a bit burdensome right now. That said, I stand by my 2019 resolution to “eat more burritos,” and this year I have vowed to eat something delicious every day.

I got a head start on that over the holiday period: chocolate-tahini rolls (still working the kinks out); baked brie with Moroccan grape jam an Israeli caterer friend gifted me; and this tagine, full of warm spices, chickpeas and a pile of finds from my pantry.

The idea for this recipe started with the enormous pot of chickpeas I made last week. I vowed not to make all of them into hummus. There was a package of kosher merguez sausages I found in the freezer that was just singing to me, and with the aforementioned Moroccan jam on my mind, it was just bound to happen.

I love a dish layered with flavors, and this hits the mark. It starts with blooming the spices in olive oil with some onion, and layering on top of that the vegetable of your choice, green olives, dried apricots and golden raisins.

Sure, this recipe feels a bit like everything but the kitchen sink was thrown into it, but it works so well all together.

As for the ground coriander and cumin, I start with whole seeds that I grind in a coffee maker I bought for 12 bucks 15 years ago at Ocean State Job Lot. Honestly, I must use my spice grinder at least twice a week. To clean it, I grind a small piece of sandwich bread in its bowl. Works like a charm.

Yes, I know this is a tagine — which refers to the domed ceramic Berber cooking vessel, as well as the melange within — but I used a Dutch oven for this dish. My tagine, a gift from my parents’ world travels, does not work on my induction stovetop and is only for oven use. My husband used it to make the couscous we serve this with by pouring boiling water directly into it.

Of course, the sausage can be vegan, or left out completely. I used cauliflower that was previously roasted but still had a bit of crunch to it for my vegetable, but a hearty winter squash is also a good option.

I served this over couscous, although I’m kicking myself now for not deploying the spaghetti squash on my counter. For the next time, I say.

Warming winter tagine


1 package merguez or veggie sausage (optional)

2 onions, sliced

1 lemon, quartered

2 carrots, peeled, cut into fourths, then sliced lengthwise

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 ½ cup veggies (cauliflower, cleaned into florets or winter squash, peeled, cleaned and cut into 1.5 inch chunks)

½ cup green olives

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup dried apricots, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

3 cups stock

One quarter cup olive oil

1 tablespoon flour

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot. Use a tagine if you have one; if not, a Dutch oven will work fine. Add the cinnamon, coriander, paprika, turmeric and cumin to the pot.

Add the lemon, onion, garlic and green olives to the pot and cook until softened, about 12 minutes. Taste for salt.

Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Set aside.

Add the tablespoon of flour to the large pot of onions and spices and mix well. Add 3 cups of broth and allow to boil for 5 minutes.

Add the merguez and the remaining vegetables you are using into the pot. Add the chickpeas, dried apricots and the raisins. Continue to cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Remove from heat and serve over couscous.

Molly Parr lives in Florence with her husband and two young daughters. She’s been writing her food blog, Cheap Beets, since 2010. Send questions or comments to 


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