Tajine is the name of the earthenware pot that gave its name to all dishes cooked in it. In our native Moroccan cooking, there is no such thing as a “side dish.” Equal time for vegetable dishes and meat or fish dishes —this is where our respect for veggies comes from. Vegetables cook, either alone or along with the fish or the chicken or the meat and various seasonings, according to their respective cooking times: This is what makes our cooking so flavorful and exciting, and makes us eat our vegetables without any begging or urging.
Two huge favorites in our Moroccan Cuisine, artichokes and fresh lima or fava beans are an exuberant flavor match made in heaven, and spell out the arrival of spring. This dish stands alone as a perfect vegetarian main course, and is ready in just a few minutes. The original dish is made with fresh peeled fava beans. Peeling the fava beans is a must, as their peel is quite thick and will not be an asset in the dish. It is also quite time-consuming, so a perfect substitute is frozen lima beans or frozen edamame beans, neither of which requires peeling. I used to settle for unpeeled frozen fava beans and recommend spitting out the peels discretely, but as you can imagine this made for pretty funky eating. So: peeled frozen fava beans is indeed the way to go. Since the season for fresh fava beans, edamame or lima is quite short, I prefer to use the more reliable and no less delicious frozen version.
Quite often we want to include artichokes as one of the ingredients in a larger dish, and getting at the hearts or bottoms before we can even get on with the recipe can seem rather daunting. Someone in the food industry, bless him, has done the pesky job of snapping the leaves off the artichokes, and the even peskier job of scraping the fuzz off the artichoke bottoms, leaving us only with exactly what we want (perfect artichoke bottoms or baby artichoke hearts) in order to sail through the preparation of quite a few artichoke-based treats. Lean, nutrient-packed, different, and delicious. Did you know there was an artichoke liqueur called Cynar? Not for the fainthearted: Try it, it might grow on you!
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 1 bunch flat parsley
- 2 10-ounce boxes frozen artichoke hearts, or 1 pound frozen artichoke bottoms (halve or quarter the larger ones)
- 3 cups frozen fava beans (make sure the label says "peeled"), lima beans or edamame (Passover: substitute 2 large potatoes, diced)
- 1½ cups water
- 3 bay leaves, or ½ teaspoon ground
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Good pinch red pepper flakes
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet. In a food processor, finely grind the garlic and parsley. Add the ground mixture to the oil and sauté until just fragrant. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium and cook about 10 minutes. Serve warm, alone or with your favorite grain.