Seitan, Almond and Sesame Tagine with Israeli Couscous
I felt like making something completely different. Seth spotted this recipe in Vegan Eats World (if you don't already have this book, get it) and he asked if we could try it out, so there was my something completely different. I won’t lie, this is one that takes a while to make. First I had to make the Coriander Seitan Cutlets (same book). They were your basic seitan recipe, but were cooked a little differently than I’m used to, and with some specific seasoning. I normally simmer or steam seitan; I have one recipe that goes in the oven, but that uses a dish of water too. These just go right on the oven rack, wrapped in foil. I was scared. They turned out great. Once they were done, I set two aside for this meal and put the other two in the freezer, at which point I realized that I have three different flavors of homemade seitan in there. Oh well. They keep well and it’ll save time later. The tagine recipe starts off with toasting almonds and sesame seeds. Here’s where I was reminded that reading is fundamental. It calls for 1/3 cup slivered, blanched almonds (I had sliced almonds so I used those instead and also I only had black sesame seeds but whatever), ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon of olive oil (I cut that ¼ cup in half) and 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds. I put the ¼ teaspoon of oil in the pot and added the almonds. I then proceeded to add ¼ cup of sesame seeds, which seemed like a lot. So I double-checked. Sigh. I tried to scoop them out, but it was too late. I had to dump the whole thing & start again. I was a bit worried at this point since I’d started out so rough. The recipe gives all the measurements in weights – ½ a pound, rather than say, 2 medium carrots. I guess I’m going to have to get a kitchen scale. Since I don’t have one and already had most of the ingredients on hand, I guessed at how much I was using. It’s mostly root veggies, so it’s not the end of the world either way. The recipe asks for either turnips, potatoes or parsnips. I decided to do a combo of purple potatoes, red-skinned white potatoes and a turnip. I didn’t peel my taters because I never do that, unless they’re russets and I don’t peel even those if I mashing them. Anyway. I swapped out some yellow onion for the red because I didn’t have enough red and I was guessing at the weight in any case. I added extra garlic because I’m certain that every single recipe is printed incorrectly and if they say two cloves of garlic, they really meant five. Once everything gets into the pot, most of the time needed for this recipe is simmering, so you can go ahead and clean up your kitchen. Y’all do that, right? Clean while stuff cooks? Try it – you’ll love it. We elected to serve the finished stew over Israeli couscous on plates rather than in bowls with a side of “regular” couscous or bread. This is because I don’t like the regular stuff. It’s a texture thing. I’m not crazy about quinoa for the same reason. Overall, we really, really liked this and it makes A LOT. The recipe says it serves four, but we got five healthy sized portions (the other three will be lunches for the rest of the week). I really liked the coriander seitan cutlets and that recipe can be easily modified for other flavors, like curry, so I think it’s going to become a regular around here. The only thing I think I’ll change next time I make this tagine, and there will be a next time, is I’ll use fewer dates. I love them, but they are so sweet and while the dish is meant to be sweet and savory, I think the sweet was more than I was expecting. Still, it was delish. This is one you can impress dinner guests with. A nice salad would be good alongside it, if you felt like making one.