Beef and Apricot Tagine

Beef and Apricot Tagine Over Couscous Closeup Overhead Shot in a Large White Bowl

There’s something so satisfying about slow cooked meals.

Hours of simmering turns cheap (re: tough) cuts of meat into melt-in-your-mouth tender morsels, and the stewing process develops a complexity of flavors you simply can’t get with quick cooking methods.

Every culture has their own form of a stew.

In Hungary it’s goulash, in France it’s beef bourguignon or daube, in the US it’s chili or gumbo, in Brazil it’s feijoada, in Ireland it’s Irish stew, in Ethiopia it’s wat, and in Northern Africa, it’s tagine.

Traditionally, tagines are cooked in a shallow pot with a cone shaped lid.

As the stew cooks, any liquid that evaporates condenses on the lid and drips back into the stew. This keeps the stew moist and delicious.

You can purchase tagines online, or at specialty stores like Sur La Table. While they are a unique piece to have, I’ve found that a heavy lidded pot, like an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, works just as well.

Many traditional tagines use lamb, but I opted for a cheaper cut of beef to make the meal more budget friendly. I based this recipe off of a lamb tagine from Food & Wine magazine, simply swapping out lamb shanks for beef cubes, & switching up the spices a tad. I also chose to chop the apricots, since I personally don’t like gigantic bites of rehydrated dried fruit 🙂

I promise, you won’t be disappointed by this stew. The beef is super duper tender, the cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and ginger spice everything so richly, and the plump apricots and garbanzo beans give it lots of fiber and heft.

Don’t skimp the couscous either. Cooking it in chicken broth imparts so much flavor, and stirring in chopped roasted almonds and parsley add delicious crunch and flavor to the dish.

This is the perfect meal for a lazy Sunday with family.

Let it simmer on the stove while you enjoy great conversation and mezze (appetizers), then serve family style.

Beef and Apricot Tagine with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

 

Beef and Apricot Tagine

Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 50 mins
Total Time3 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 8
Author: Erica Julson

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, cut into a small dice
  • 2 large carrots, cut into a small dice
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried ground turmeric
  • 2 3- inch whole cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley + 2 tablespoons for couscous
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (plus extra for garnish)
  • 12 oz dried apricots, quartered
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 (15oz) cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups couscous
  • 2/3 cup chopped roasted almonds

Instructions

  • Fill an enameled cast iron dutch oven 2/3rds full with water and bring to a boil. Use a small knife to cut an “x” through the skin on the bottom of the tomatoes. Place in the pot of boiling water and blanch until the skin starts to peel back from the ‘x’ cuts on the bottom of the tomatoes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Dump the boiling water and put the dutch oven back on the stove.
  • When the tomatoes are cooled, carefully peel off the skins & cut the tomatoes into a small dice. Set aside.
  • Next, add two tablespoons olive oil to the dutch oven and warm over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the stew meat generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Add to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10-15 minutes. When done, use a slotted spoon to remove to a plate and set aside.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon sticks to the pot. Stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the beef back to the pot and stir in the wine. Increase the heat to bring to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes to let some of the alcohol cook off. Add the tomatoes, 4 cups (1 quart) chicken stock, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, and 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro. Bring to a simmer again, cover, and let simmer lightly for about 1 1/2 hours, until the beef is just tender.
  • Add the apricots and honey to the pot, and cook covered for another 30 minutes, until then beef is meltingly tender. Scoop out the cinnamon sticks and discard. Stir in the chickpeas, and season the tagine to taste with salt and pepper.
  • While the tagine is in its last 30 minutes of cooking, prep the couscous. Put the dried couscous in a heatproof bowl. Place the other quart of chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, and pour the broth over the couscous. Cover with a plate or lid or foil and let the couscous absorb the liquid for about 30 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and stir in the almonds and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley.
  • To serve, spoon some couscous into a bowl and ladle a few scoops of tagine on top. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro & enjoy.

 

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Oven Roasted Asparagus

Oven Roasted Asparagus on a White Platter

Sometimes I get so caught up with sharing fancy recipes, that I forget about the simple things.

While blogs are awesome for finding new and unique recipes, sometimes you just need some basic weeknight inspiration. After all, it’s rare that we have time to cook a 2 or 3 hour meal on a weekday. What do foodies do on those days? They KISS- keep it simple, stupid!

Oven roasted vegetables are a weeknight staple in my house.

Right now, I’m all about roasting asparagus. It’s in its prime and on sale everywhere, and the spears cook up in less than 15 minutes. Can’t get any better than that!

Plus, oven roasting is as hands-off as you can get, freeing up your time (and hands) for cooking the main dish.

The best way to roast delicate spring veggies is to crank that oven up super high, and blast your them for just a few minutes. The high heat cooks them super quickly so you don’t get mushy veggies and gives them a nice tasty char.

There’s nothing better than crispy salty oven roasted asparagus tips.

Another trick is to make sure you season WELL. With simple sides like this, the only extra pop of flavor is coming from salt & pepper, so don’t skimp on your seasoning.

And if you want them to be extra yummy, resist the urge to pull them when they are just bright green and tender and not yet browned. Leave them in the oven for an extra few minutes till the tips start to crisp up. You won’t regret it.

Oven Roasted Asparagus Overhead Shot

 

Oven Roasted Asparagus

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings: 4
Author: Erica Julson

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Snap or cut off the tough bottom ends of the asparagus spears. You can snap them off by bending the spear near the end of the stalk, and the tough end will naturally snap off. This method works best for thinner spears. If you have very thick spears (like I did this time), just use a knife to cut off the bottom inch or so of the spears. That will help get rid of the stringy/woody pieces that can sometimes be at the bottom of the asparagus spears as they dry out.
  • Spread the spears on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil, then sprinkle with a large pinch of kosher salt and sprinkle all over with ground black pepper (don’t be shy with the seasoning!). Use your hands to toss to coat and spread the spears out evenly.
  • Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes (if you have thick spears). Less time will be needed for thin spears. You’ll know the asparagus is done when a fork easily pierces the thick part of the stalk and the tips are starting to get browned and crispy.
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Ham Butter Bean Soup with Savoy Cabbage

Ham and Butter Bean Soup with Savoy Cabbage

Hams are pretty awesome.

You can often find them on huge discount during the holiday season, and they can be used to make (literally) half a dozen meals!

Some of my favorite ways to use ham include:

  • soups
  • salads
  • stratas
  • sandwiches
  • frittatas
  • quiches
  • pizzas
  • pastas
  • pot pies

The best part is that all of these recipes only require a cup or two of ham, so you can stretch your ham-love super far.

To prep a ham for use in a bunch of dishes,

  • First, slice thick slices (1/2 inch-ish, depending on how large you want your dice to be) of ham from the bone until all the meat is removed.
  • Save that ham bone for stock or soup!
  • Next, cut off any fatty skin, gristle, or tendons from each slice & discard.
  • Finally, dice your ham into 1/2 inch cubes (or leave in slices if you want to use for sandwiches)
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or pack in an airtight container and keep in the freezer for up to a few months until needed.

For my first leftover ham recipe, I chose to make a nourishing winter soup.

It’s inspired by my parent’s habit of making lima bean and ham hock soup with leftover ham when I was a child.

I’ll admit…. I wasn’t the biggest fan of that soup as a child… but with some upgrades and handful of additional ingredients to bump up the flavor, I’ve become a HUGE fan of ham & bean soup.

I love how the creamy butter beans soften while cooking to thicken the soup, how the beautifully vibrant savoy cabbage softens and gives the soup tender body, and how the salty ham kicks up each and every bite to a new level.

Serve with baguette slices for sopping up the delicious broth, freshly grated parmesan cheese for a hit of extra flavor, and a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper.

Ham and Butter Bean Soup with Savoy Cabbage

 

Ham and Butter Bean Soup with Savoy Cabbage

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large stalks celery, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 large dried bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 small savoy cabbage, cored and shredded or thinly sliced (about 4 very large handfuls)
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • 3 (15oz) cans butter beans
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese, baguette slices, and freshly cracked black pepper, for serving

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or other heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper and sauté until softened, and just about to start browning.
  • At this point, add the chicken stock, cabbage, ham, and butter beans and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 45 minutes, until some of the beans have broken down slightly to thicken the soup, and the cabbage is cooked through. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley and apple cider vinegar.
  • Ladle into deep soup bowls, top with parmesan and freshly grated parmesan cheese, and serve with baguette slices.

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