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1 cup dried chickpeas
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1 1/4 pounds (5-6 medium) slender Japanese eggplant, cut into 1″ thick rounds
8 ounces (2 medium) zucchini, cut into 1/2″ thick rounds
1 pound small, yellow potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
Sea or Kosher salt
3 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, or a combination)
2 teaspoons cumin seed
2 medium yellow onions
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/4 pounds (5-6 medium) ripe, flavorful tomatoes
Leaves from 1/2 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped, plus a bit for garnish
Juice of 1 lemon
Lepp’s Smoked Chorizo to ad protein
Plain, whole-milk, Greek yogurt and/or lemon wedges for serving (optional)
Prepare the chickpeas:
Cover the chickpeas with a few inches of cool water and soak for 8-24 hours. (If you’re short on time, cover with boiling water and soak for 2 hours. Or use 2 cans of cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed, and skip to the next section. In this case, use a light vegetable stock in place of the chickpea broth.) Drain the chickpeas, place them in a large saucepan with the bay leaf, and cover them with 2 – 3 inches of cool water. Bring the chickpeas to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan partially with a lid, and simmer the beans until they are very tender, but not falling apart, adding more water as necessary to keep the beans well covered, and adding the salt when the beans are close to being done. This can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours; I find it’s better to err on the side of overcooking. Let the chickpeas cool in their broth.
Place the eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes on separate baking sheets (I use a large one for the eggplant and two smaller ones for the zucchini and potatoes). Drizzle each with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a few good pinches of salt, and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables in an even layer, and roast until they’re all golden and tender, flipping the vegetables when their bottoms have caramelized and they will release themselves from the pan when a thin, metal spatula is involved. The zucchini will take about 20 minutes, the potatoes and eggplant 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the bell peppers over an open, medium flame and roast, turning frequently with a pair of tongs, until the skin is blackened and blistered all over. Let the peppers cool until handleable, then peel away and discard the skin, stem and seeds. Slice the peppers lengthwise into quarters, then cut the quarters crosswise into 1/4″ thick slices.
Meanwhile, toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet over a medium flame until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Let cool, then grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
Peel the onions, halve them, then slice them thinly. Warm 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, ground cumin, sweet and smoked paprikas, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon stick, saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender, 5 minutes. Add the garlic, lower the heat a bit, and continue cooking until the onions are very tender, 5-10 minutes more. Slice the tomatoes in half horizontally. Squeeze the seeds out into a sieve placed over a bowl to catch the juices, and work the pulp to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the seeds. Coarsely chop the walls of the tomatoes
Make Cous Cous according to the instructions on the box.
When the tagine is done, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Taste for balance and seasoning, adding more salt or lemon juice if you like. Serve the tagine warm over the cous cous, with a bit of yogurt and/or additional lemon wedges if you like. Leftovers keep brilliantly, refrigerated airtight, for up to 5 days. Reheat before serving.