Recipe: Freezer-to-Slow-Cooker Vegetable Tagine

Recipe: Freezer-to-Slow-Cooker Vegetable Tagine

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Christine Gallary
Sep 27, 2016
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Vegetable tagine, a North African stew of spiced vegetables, goes from freezer to table with the help of an array of frozen veggies and trades the eponymous tajine for a slow cooker set to low.

With a few extra ingredients, you're six hours closer to turning the contents of your freezer and pantry into a rich, flavorful dinner. Here's how you bring this colorful freezer-to-table meal to life.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Embrace Frozen Vegetables

As far as convenience foods go, frozen vegetables are at the top of the list. They're usually frozen right after being harvested, maintain lots of their vitamins and nutrients, and a few bags in the freezer means that it's okay if the produce drawer is empty.

While there are more frozen vegetables to choose from these days, not all work in the slow cooker. Veggies like green beans will turn to mush during an extended cook time, so we're using a combination of carrots, cauliflower, pearl onions, and butternut squash since they all can stew slowly together and pair well with the sweet and sour flavors expected in a tagine. Here, we're using sweet raisins and diced tomatoes to that effect.

Harissa to the Rescue

Harissa, the spicy Middle Eastern and North African paste, is a flavorful powerhouse. Just a tablespoon in this tagine adds layers of spicy flavors so you can skip the garlic and hot peppers. To ensure this dish has the aromatic presence we expect from tagine, a healthy dose of cinnamon, coriander, and cumin are all present.

When the tagine is ready, serve it over regular or cauliflower couscous, top with fresh cilantro, and feel free to add some almonds for extra crunch. Like any stew, this dish is quite good on the first day, but by day two the flavors really sing.

Freezer-to-Slow-Cooker Vegetable Tagine

Serves 6 to 8

For the tagine:
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon harissa paste, plus more for serving
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen crinkle-cut carrots
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen cauliflower florets
1 (14-ounce) bag pearl onions
1 (10-ounce) bag butternut squash chunks

For finishing and serving:
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooked couscous or cauliflower rice, for serving
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Coarsely chopped roasted almonds (optional)

Place the tomatoes and their juices, raisins, oil, harissa, cinnamon, salt, coriander, and cumin in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker, season with pepper, and stir to combine.

Add the carrots, cauliflower, onions, and squash and stir as best you can to combine (it may be hard to stir because the vegetables might stick together; that's okay). Cover and cook until the vegetables are very tender, 5 to 6 hours on the LOW setting. Stir halfway through if you can for even cooking.

Stir in the garbanzo beans and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice as needed. Serve on couscous topped with cilantro and almonds, if using.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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