Carrot Turnip Tajine
All my readers know what a thrill it is to me to start out with humble ingredients and end up with a glorious dish that surpasses the sum of its modest parts by leaps and bounds It’s a game that I love to challenge myself at, and the best part is, I always win!
Best example: Carrot Turnip Tajine
I cannot tell you how generously you will be rewarded by the Carrot-Turnip Duo. Amazing how the flavor trademarks in each of them play off and flatter each other: sweet and tame meets pungent, sharp and funky. I am very big on roots all year round. That’s right: roots are always available, for pennies, incredibly versatile, and nutritional powerhouses. Winter vegetables, as they are called. Not seasonal to eat roots in summer? Nonsense! Who’s going to stop you? Any old day is a perfect day to return to your roots! Just try my soba noodles with roasted roots recipe, you’ll understand the enormity of the treat.
Root Vegetables Secret Ingredient: Cinnamon
Amazing how the unpretentious cinnamon brings out the warmth and pungency of root vegetables
These hot and sweet parsnips recipe, pictured above, will make my case in full. Poor root vegetables too often serve as crowd actors and then, ultimate indignity, they get discarded, as in chicken soup. Pfffttt, just like that! Not fair! Well in this dish, just as my Carrot Turnip Tajine, there’s no danger of that happening: they are the stars, and they get vindicated beyond their wildest hopes!
In my Carrot Turnip Tajine Recipe, I am cashing in yet again with pretty much the same winning spice lineup as in my dishes above: cinnamon, paprika, just a hint of brown sugar (or honey or date syrup) and a good pinch red pepper flakes to give it the right kick and round out the flavors. You will love the natural rich and syrupy sauce that will form.
Don’t let root vegetables daunt you!
Their size can be discouraging. You may find the use of a hammer in the kitchen somewhat odd and unbecoming, but you will quickly change your mind when you see how many thankless tasks it performs in a jiffy. A hammer makes short work of cutting all those monolithic items that usually cause us so much grief in the kitchen: butternut squash, pumpkin, chocolate blocks, big turnips, and more.You might eat them more often now! No force and no pressure whatsoever. Simply place a cleaver with the blade poised on the spots where you want to cut. Hit the cleaver with a hammer, with one clean strike to the brute, and voilà!
Countertop Cooking: Tajines
I cook along every imaginable line, but countertop cooking and all tajines are my favorite way of cooking. Not just because it is so ridiculously simple, but also because it is so thoroughly inclusive. With tajines there’s no talk of side dishes: Every ingredient gets equal time. The veggies cook right along with the protein of your choice: no wonder nobody begs our kids to eat their veggies! My huge chapter on basic tajines will illustrate this perfectly: Tajines: One, Two, and Turmeric is taken from my Whole Foods Kitchen Cookbook in its entirety: you will love it!
- A dozen long thin carrots, about two pounds, sliced about half an inch thick
- 1 medium head rutabaga (about 2 pounds), cut in medium dice
- 2 tablespoons turmeric
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar, honey or date syrup (silan)
- good pinch red pepper flakes
- salt to taste (Kosher keepers need very little)
- a dozen chicken thighs or a mixture of thighs, drumsticks and chicken breasts, skin and bones on
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Put all ingredients in a wide bottom pot.
Add about 3 cups water. Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the flame to medium, and cook covered for about 45 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of liquids. Add a little water if necessary.
Check the chicken. The point of a knife should go in with no resistance. If necessary cook a few more minutes, until tender.
Check the liquids in the pot. If it is too thin, reduce a few more minutes, until the sauce thickens and gets to the consistency of maple syrup.
Transfer the chicken, vegetables and sauce to a platter. Serve hot. Will make 6 to 8 servings. Any leftovers will freeze perfectly.