Seitan, Almond & Sesame Tangine
Serves 4 served with bread, couscous or rice
Tangines, slow simmered North African stews originally made in unique clay pots made just for them, are great easy going stovetop wonders and easily made in any kind of pot or deep skillet that has a lid. Like a lot of traditional tangines, this hearty concoction features spices, sweet dried fruits and nuts that are just about perfect paired with the vegan miracle that is seitan. Though originating from warmer climates, the radiatant flavors of this tangine are really special and will probably remind most North Americans of cool fall evenings.
Stewed dates make this dish feel very rich; if you’d rather have something a little less intense use a mixture of prunes, apricots and just 3-4 large dates. I like the flavor of a mixture of vegetable broth and water, but you can use just broth if you prefer; just don’t add salt until the final 5 minutes of the simmer.
Tip: If the stew looks a little dry during the simmer stream in 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra water.
1/3 cup blanched, slivered almonds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound red onions, peeled, cut in half and sliced into 1/2 thick half circles
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 Coriander Seitan Cutlets, chopped or torn into bite sized pieces or 10 ounces store bought seitan
1/2 pound carrots, scrapped and cut into irregular 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 pound root vegetables such as turnip, parnsnip, celeriac, or potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
One 3 inch cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 overflowing cup pitted mejool dates or a combination of prunes, apricots and dates
2 1/2 cups water, vegetable broth or a mixture of the two
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon or 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat toast toast the almonds in 1 teaspoon of olive oil. When the almonds turn a light tan color, stir in the sesame seeds and toast for another 30 seconds. Scrape the seeds and nuts onto a plate and set aside. In a large, deep Dutch oven over medium heat (or clay tangine if you have one!) add the remaining olive oil and onions and cook until onions are softened, about 8 minutes. Add seitan and cook, stirring occasionally, another 5-6 minutes until edges are browned and sizzling.
2. Add carrots, turnip, cinnamon stick, coriander, turmeric, agave, sea salt, dates, vegetable broth and/or water. Turn up heat and bring mixture to a bubbling simmer, then reduce heat to bring mixture to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, then stir a few times and partially cover. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about a third and thickened up a little. Taste the mixture and season with salt if necessary, then stir in preserved lemon or zest and simmer for another 2 minutes.
3. Turn off heat and sprinkle with almonds and sesame seeds. Cover again and let mixture stand for 10 minutes. Serve by presenting the whole dish to guests and let them spoon their own portions into bowls alongside couscous or any kind of flat, grilled bread.
Okra tomato tangine: omit dried fruit, add 1/2 pound trimmed small okra pods plus 2 cups roughly diced tomatoes along with the carrots. For best results prepare this tangine in either a stainless steel or clay vessel; don’t use a cast iron pot as it could produce off flavors in reaction to the tomato.