Tuesday, January 31, 2012

stovetop moroccan fish tagine

i wanted a healthy, quick, and special dinner for friday night date night with my dear hubs, so i went paging through the “healthy mains” option on the epicurious iphone app.

i found this…

healthy? check. low fat. low carb. chock full of veggies and lean protein.

quick? check. starting with canned stewed tomatoes can cut down active and cooking time on any recipe.

special? check. reminiscent of our honeymoon in morocco, tagine was a winner choice for a date-night-in dinner.

so i went to stop and shop and they didn’t have any halibut at all. so i tried to google “fishes similar to halibut” and i found an interesting discussion on chow but it didn’t get me very far and i kept thinking, “isn’t there some corny joke about halibut?”.
 anyway, i decided to buy three quarters a pound of flounder and three quarters a pound of cod because they sounded good and looked lovely. and then as i was leaving the seafood section i saw a pound of frozen bay scallops and thought, ‘why not make enough to have leftovers?’

so i got the rest of the ingredients, which included stewed tomatoes… i was looking for muir glen, because i remember reading a cook’s illustrated taste test saying they are the best. but stop and shop didn’t have any muir glen products, so i bought del monte because they were relatively expensive, and when i have no other metric by which to measure quality i default to cost. i am that consumer. but if i had taken a moment to look up that results chart again, i would have seen hunts is also “recommended” by cook’s.

Anyway… i remembered the joke.
Q: Why did the vegan go deep-sea fishing? A: Just for the halibut!

 So I gathered up my supplies and went home and carried everything inside and laid out my ingredients while snacking on some crisp grapes that i couldn’t resist buying. and i thought, “this tagine needs grapes!” and then i realized it should include grape’s sweet little cousin, raisin, too. and let's use up some of those leftover carrots in the fridge. and i think it really needs not just a tablespoon but a whole JAR of capers and a little lemon juice and this would be a great way to use some of that argan oil we bought in morocco from a women’s cooperative like this one. so this is what i ended up with.


  • 1/8 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 c argan oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 pinch harissa powder (spice island chili powder blend will do as well)
  • 3 (15 oz) cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 handfuls baby carrots, cut into thirds
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 small yellow/green squash, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 1 in. chunks
  • 1 2.5 oz jar capers, drained
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • several handfuls of grapes, sliced in half
  • 1 squirt of lemon juice
  • 1 handful raisins
  • 3/4 lb flounder (about 2 6inch long filets)
  • 3/4 lb cod (about 2 6inch long filets)
  • 1 lb frozen bay scallops
  • more cumin, pepper, salt, to taste

  • Heat the cumin and harissa in the oil in a large pot over medium heat while stirring until a savory-sweet smell hits you (about a minute). As soon as you get a fragrant whiff of the spices, dump in all the canned tomatoes.
  • Add the garlic and chopped carrots and cook until the carrots are about fork tender(maybe 15 minutes).
  • Now add the squash, bell pepper, capers, chick peas, and cinnamon. Cook for about 10 minutes more until the carrots and other vegetables have reached appropriate tenderness.
  • Next, reduce the heat a bit if necessary and add the grapes, lemon juice, raisins, fish filets, and scallops. they will cook fairly quickly, in about 7 to 10 minutes. They are done when the scallops are white all the way through and the fish is getting flaky.
  • Reduce the heat to low, and adjust the cumin, pepper, and salt, as needed.
  • Serve alone as a stew, over moroccan couscous, israeli couscous, quinoa, or with crusty bread….


 p.s. forgot to take an "after" picture.. but this was great as lunch leftovers at work!