VEGAN /// MAKES 6 GENEROUS SERVINGS
If you want a spicier couscous, use more harissa. I prefer to make a mildly seasoned stew and let guests add more harissa to taste. I use chickpeas most often for my couscous stews.
1½ cups dried chickpeas, white beans, or other beans of your choice, soaked in 2 quarts water for at least 4 hours (or do the quick soak; or 1½ cups black-eyed peas (no need to soak)
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 4 large garlic cloves (to taste), minced
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
¾ teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly toasted and ground
½ teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)
A bouquet garni: a few sprigs each parsley and cilantro
Vegetables of your choice (see variation recipes)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
1 tablespoon harissa, or more to taste; plus additional for serving
2 cups uncooked couscous
- Drain the soaked beans and place in a large saucepan with 2 quarts water. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 1 hour.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and the spices and stir together until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the beans and their broth, the bouquet garni, and the vegetables. Bring to a gentle boil and add the tomato paste, harissa, and salt to taste—at least 2 teaspoons. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are very tender and the broth aromatic, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Taste and adjust salt. Remove a cup of the broth to mix with the couscous when you reconstitute it.
- Reconstitute and steam the couscous. Serve the couscous in wide bowls or mound onto plates and top with the stew. Pass more harissa at the table.
ADVANCE PREPARATION: Most tagines benefit from being made a day ahead and will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. See specific recipes.
SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS: If you are gluten intolerant and can’t eat couscous, which is a semolina product, you can still enjoy the stews in this chapter. Add 1 to 1½ pounds potatoes, sliced or diced, to the stews. Serve in wide bowls, without the couscous. Or serve the stews as they are, with cooked millet or quinoa.