This Moroccan tagine (or tajine) is wonderfully healthy and tasty. It features sardines, which contain lots of beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, as well as calcium, and many different vegetables that provide a lot of nutrition.Vegetables in this dish include potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, and celery.
It’s not the ready-in-30-minutes recipe, so you’ll want to make it on week-ends. Basically, we need to prepare the vegetables, then prepare the chermoula, which is a typical Moroccan marinade used to flavor fish, seafood, meat or vegetables.
We are using large or medium sardines for this recipe, so make sure you ask your fishmonger to take the bones off from the sardines, otherwise it’s quite unpleasant.
Serves 6 – Total time 1h45 min
1.6 lb (750g) large or medium size sardines
0.9 lb (400g) potatoes
2/3 lb (300g) carrots
1 celery stalk
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
For the chermoula marinade:
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch cilantro
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika powder
2 tbsp olive oil
2 pinches sea salt
First, grill the peppers in a pre-heated oven on 480ºF (250ºC) for about 10 minutes, making sure they don’t burn. Then, place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Wait for 15 minutes until they cool down a little. Then, peel and de-seed them. Cut the peppers into stripes, and set aside.
While you are grilling and preparing the peppers, peel potatoes and carrots. Cut the carrots into thin slices, and the potatoes into 0.2 inch (0.5 cm) slices. Blanch for 5 minutes. This means you should boil the carrots and potatoes for 5 minutes, drain immediately, and place them under cold running water, to stop the cooking process.
Place the tomatoes in very hot water, leave for about 1 minutes, take them out of the water. Peel the tomatoes. Cut one tomato into slices, and purée the other one in a food processor. Add the tomato paste to this puree.
Cut the celery into thin slices.
Prepare the chermoula by mixing together cilantro and celery leaves, sea salt, 1.5 tbsp olive oil, cumin, paprika, chopped garlic, lemon juice, and a bit of water. You should get a sauce that’s not liquid.
Now take a tagine pot; if you don’t have one, use a slow cooker pot (earthenware or cast iron are great).
Place the carrots on the bottom of the pot, then add a layer of sardines coated with chermoula. Then, add potatoes, then tomatoes, and celery. Drizzle with chermoula. Add the grilled peppers, and another layer of sardines.
Now pour the remaining chermoula, olive oil, and tomato puree.
Here is what it looks like, before cooking:
Now you can cover the dish and cook on low heat for about 45 minutes. Check from time to time to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. If it does, add a little bit of water. You can add more sea salt if you wish.
After 45 minutes, remove from the heat, and let the tajine stand for 5 minutes, covered. Serve, and enjoy the Mediterranean flavors!