It might be November, but that doesn’t mean we have to give in to complete comfort food mode just yet. It’s still pretty mild here in London, making this warming, nourishing and very tasty Tempeh Tagine Bowl a delicious option for a weekday dinner or Saturday lunch (and it is a definite winner packed in a lunchbox).
This recipe really is simple to make, hearty and healthy, but don’t be fooled – the tagine marinade packs a punch that’s a match for the best winter warmers out there.
You know I love a bowl of a recipe, so I couldn’t come back from my visit to the States without creating one with some seasonal veggies. Having had an absolute stunner of a Southern Bowl at Canteen for our first proper (non-tofu wing) meal in Portland, I wanted to make something inspired by the idea of simple cooking but huge flavour.
Having eaten pretty much every Southern and BBQ flavoured morsel I could get my hands on however, I thought it best to have a little break from Americana and take a trip back to one of my favourite sources of flavour inspiration: North Africa.
If you love the flavours of a traditional tagine, I think you’ll be impressed with this one. It’s:
- full of all the fragrant favourites: cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cayenne, paprika;
- fresh with fresh lemon juice;
- sweet with roasted squash, apricots and maple syrup (in place of the traditional honey), as well as a little tomato;
- rich, vibrant, satisfying and earthy; and
- juicy enough to fulfil the bowl’s ‘sauce requirement’ – no extra dressing needed!
I’ve used dried rosemary and fresh sage in this dish to lend a more seasonal flavour, but these can be swapped for oregano and basil in the summer for a
lighter touch… which gives me the distinctly flavoursome idea of skewering the marinated tempeh chunks and barbecuing them; but that’s for another time entirely.
There are lots of lovely textures in this bowl too, including onions that are cooked just enough to retain a satisfying crunch and bold flavour. The green lentils lend a nice bite to the otherwise fluffy (and super nutritious) quinoa, and the addition of crisped-up kale leaves adds a slightly charred, smoky taste to the dish, which sits well with the North African theme.
If you can’t find tempeh, by all means use firm tofu – or even marinate the squash. Either way, I hope you enjoy the delicious celebration of aromatic flavour and colour in this healthy, hearty tagine.
- For the Tempeh:
- 200g tempeh, cut into 1-2cm cubes
- 1 tomato, chopped small
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp good soy sauce
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp each of smoked paprika, cinnamon, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, ground ginger, cayenne
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- Black pepper
- For the Squash:
- 1 winter squash (butternut/acorn/coquina)
- Handful of fresh sage leaves (about 6)
- 1 tsp each of smoked paprika, cayenne
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion, cut into segments
- 4 large leaves of cavolo nero (or other kale)
- Other ingredients:
- 50g quinoa
- 1 tin puy lentils (400g / 240g drained weight) or 100g dried puy lentils
- 10 dried apricots, chopped small
- 1 tsp olive oil
- At least 30 minutes in advance: Combine all of the tempeh marinade ingredients together in a bowl, carefully stir in the tempeh cubes so that they are fully coated and set aside to soak up all the flavours.
- Heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
- Chop the squash into 1-2cm cubes, discarding the stringy flesh and removing the seeds. If you're not using an organic squash, you might also want to peel it. Slice the sage leaves into thin ribbons. Put the cubes on a large roasting tray and toss with the olive oil, sage leaves, paprika and cayenne.
- Place on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, cook the quinoa according to packet instructions. This should take about 12 minutes. If you're using dried lentils, cook these too (they'll take around 30 minutes).
- Once the squash has been cooking for 20 minutes, give it a stir and add the onion segments to the tray. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes more.
- While this is cooking, heat the remaining olive oil in a good non-stick frying pan and cook the tempeh for about 10 minutes, until all the marinade has cooked off and the edges start to char slightly.
- Rip up the cavolo nero/kale leaves into bite-sized pieces, discarding the tough central stem, and chuck these onto the squash tray for a final 5 minutes.
- To serve, combine everything in a large bowl and serve.
For more flavours of the Mediterranean, check out this Quinoa Meatball Tagine and this Lemon and Thyme Baba Ghanoush.