Ainsley Harriott’s butternut squash and sweet potato tagine

Squash and sweet potato work beautifully with earthy, aromatic Moroccan spices and saffron. This is a quick tagine that makes for an easy yet impressive vegan lunch or dinner. Feel free to mix up the veggies. The zesty couscous is simple to prepare and makes a perfect side to tagines and stews.

Ainsley Harriott butternut squash tagine
Dan Jones

SERVES 4 FOR THE TAGINE

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 1.5cm pieces
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
pinch of saffron
500g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2.5cm chunks
450g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5cm chunks
500ml vegetable stock
50g sultanas
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful fresh coriander, chopped
large handful of baby spinach leaves

FOR THE COUSCOUS

200g couscous
300ml vegetable stockjuice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp roughly chopped pistachio nuts
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (optional)

1. First, prepare the tagine. Heat the oil in a deep heavy-based frying pan with a lid over a low-medium heat, add the onion and fry for 4-6 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic, ginger and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the spices and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring, until fragrant.H Add the squash and sweet potato and stir well to coat in the spices. Pour in the stock, add the sultanas and season generously. Increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil, then cover the pan with the lid and simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender. Stir through half of the coriander.

2. Meanwhile, make the couscous. Place the couscous in a bowl and pour over the hot stock. Cover and leave for 5-10 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.

3. Fluff the couscous with a fork to separate the grains and let it cool a little before adding the lemon juice, pistachios and fresh herbs. Season to taste and add a little extra virgin olive oil, if needed.

4. Remove the lid from the tagine and scatter over the spinach leaves, cover and leave to wilt for 1 minute before stirring through. 

5. Serve the tagine in warmed bowls with the couscous on the side, sprinkling both with the remaining coriander.

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Ainsley's Mediterranean CookbookAinsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook by Ainsley Harriott will be published on 26 March by Ebury Press, price £20. To preorder a copy for £16 with free p&p until 5 April, go to mailshop.co.uk or call 01603 648155.