By Deb Kussmann
For me, food is about sharing, caring and loving. The language of food brings people together in a way that nothing else does. It’s what we all do and what we all have in common.
When we share food, we share a little of ourselves – a story, a laugh, a tear, our hopes, a victory, a new love or lost love. We share something personal in a moment in time. It evokes an emotional response when we bake muffins with our kids, for example, or prepare a dish to comfort a sick friend. It’s exciting to create a special meal or find that next great recipe that we can’t wait to share with a friend.
Food has a way of breaking down walls, opening our minds and carrying conversations.
As Julia Child once said, “People who love food are always the best people,” and who doesn’t love food, especially this time of year, when the chilly weather inspires comfort foods and warm flavours.
A dish that comes to mind is the traditional Moroccan tagine, easily adapted for plant-based diets. The self-basting nature of the tagine infuses the entire dish with the flavours of Morocco and the aromas of a spice market. It’s a bit like a vacation in your kitchen.
Chicken and Olive Tangine
Serves six to eight.
325 degrees Fahrenheit, or low heat, with a gas stovetop
- 1 10-to-12 lb roasting chicken, cut into 8 pieces;
or 8 legs and thighs (with bones)
- 3/4 to 1 cup chermoula paste
- 1 tomato
- 1 onion
- 2 large potatoes, cut into wedges
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 1 tbsp. ras el hanout seasoning
- 150 g green olives, pitted
- 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
or 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 3/4 to 1 cup water
- 1 preserved lemon, cut into 6 segments
- Rinse and dry the chicken, then rub all over with a little more than half of the chermoula paste and refrigerate overnight or for at least two hours.
- After marinating, cut tomato and onion into thin wedges, combine with remaining chermoula paste and sprinkle with ras el hanout seasoning. Then spread the tomato and onion into the base of the tajine.
- Place the chicken pieces on top of tomato and onion mixture, arranging them in the centre of the tajine.
- Coat potato wedges with the chermoula marinade and arrange the potatoes around chicken.
- Top the chicken with onion slices, then tomato slices and olives in between the potato wedges.
- Mix chopped coriander/cilantro with remaining chermoula marinade and water. (You may add less water. It depends how much your tajine can hold.) Pour mixture on top of tomatoes and onions.
- Top with preserved lemon wedges then cover tajine with lid. Cook on a very low gas heat for 45 minutes. Do not stir or lift the lid during the cooking process or add any additional liquid.
- Serve with Couscous or Orzo.
- Easily adapted for vegan or vegetarian by omitting the chicken and adding additional hearty root vegetables. Squash, sweet potato and cabbage are fantastic in a tagine as well.
Deb Kussmann is the founder of Pepper Tree Spice Co. and creator of over 90 signature seasonings. Full disclosure: Deb is not a trained chef or a food critic. “I simply love food and everything about food … except doing the dishes.” Navigating around diet trends, market changes and social issues affecting our ever-changing relationship with food, Deb has a passion for sharing with people who love food.”