Today was a quiet day. It was a work-from-home day. I wore pajamas until 7:30pm (when I went out to get frozen yogurt with a friend).

When I finished my work day, I watched the newest episode of “Hoarders” on the A&E website. Bliss.

Watching that show always inspires me to get all kinds of clean, organized, and domestic. I’ll spend New Year’s weekend cleaning, but I spent tonight cooking. Having recently purchased an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, I wanted to try it out. I wanted to make a stew of some kind – something warm and filling to battle the bitterly cold weather.

I found a recipe for a Root Vegetable Tagine with Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Turnips, and Spice-Roasted Chickpeas on Epicurious, but was missing many of the ingredients and was too lazy to prepare the Spice-Roasted Chickpeas (which are a separate recipe entirely).

So I took some liberties. Here is my LIBERALLY modified version:

Sweet Potato and Chick Pea Tagine

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cups carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup brine-cured green olives, pitted, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) tomato, diced
  • 1 can chick peas (aka garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  1. Toast the coriander, mustard and fennel seeds in a small frying pan or pot over medium heat until they begin to brown and pop, about 2 minutes. Let them cool and then grind them up – either in a food mill, mini food processor or with mortar and pestle. Pop them into a small bowl and add the smoked paprika, ginger and teaspoon of salt. Here’s my mortar and pestle shot…

I have a mortar and pestle and I'm not afraid to use them.

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sprinkle with about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt; sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the toasted spices, minced garlic, and tomato paste; stir 1 minute. Add carrots and celery; stir 2 minutes.
  2. Add 4 cups water, lemon juice, sweet potatoes, olives, chick peas, diced tomato and sun-dried tomato bits. Lower the heat, leave the lid a bit open, and let those simmer together until the sweet potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. About 10-15 minutes into the simmering, add the dried cranberries and orange peel. Total time to cook to the proper tenderness should be about 35 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add the cilantro and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand for about 10 minutes to let the flavors blend.
  4. Serve over couscous or quinoa (or with garlic naan from Trader Joe’s — that’s what I did because I had some handy).
Sweet potato and chick pea tagine.

The finished product.

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