I always order the exact same dish at my favorite restaurants. There’s something so reassuring and predictable about it. I know what I eat is going to be absolutely delicious. No surprises, no disappointments.
Once in a while, though, I tip toe outside my comfort zone. I should probably do this more often, because I pretty much always love what I get. This happened last week when my sister and I went out to lunch for my birthday at Lula Café. It’s one of the more popular restaurants in Logan Square (for a good reason), so I tend to avoid it on weekends when the line is out the door.
Every time I dine at Lula I order the peanut satay noodles – without fail. They’re incredibly good. I’m a little noodled out lately (see last week’s recipe for Vegan Pad Thai) so I went with their sweet potato and chickpea tagine served with a big hunk of grilled bread for dipping. It was probably the best choice I made all week. In fact, that meal was so good I immediately started developing my own version using my Instant Pot, which is what you see here.
Tagine is a North African dish traditionally made with meat and vegetables, slow-cooked in a shallow earthenware pot by the same name. Lula used sweet potato, but I went with winter squash for a slightly more seasonal approach. I did borrow their idea for serving tagine with pickled golden raisins, which add a delightful punch to every bite.
Spooned over a bed of fluffy gluten-free sorghum, which looks like pearled couscous, and flecked with fresh cilantro, this warming and satisfying dish is going to be on heavy rotation in my kitchen this winter. Don’t forget to soak your chickpeas overnight! You can use canned garbanzos in a pinch, but freshly cooked chickpeas are infinitely better.
Spooned over a bed of fluffy gluten-free sorghum and flecked with fresh cilantro, this warm and satisfying dish is going to be on heavy rotation in my kitchen this winter.
- 1 cup uncooked sorghum (or the grain of your choice)
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. paprika
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 14.5-oz. can petite diced tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
- 2 cups winter squash, small diced (butternut or acorn)
- 4 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- Fresh cilantro, for serving
For the pickled golden raisins:
- ½ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup vinegar (white wine, apple cider, or distilled)
- ¼ cup sugar (cane sugar or coconut sugar)
- If you’re serving the tagine with sorghum, start cooking it first (it takes a while). If you’re using a quicker cooking grain, like quinoa or couscous, you can start cooking it when you have everything in the Instant Pot.
- To make sorghum, first rinse it in a fine mesh strainer. Then combine it with 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring everything to a boil. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until tender, yet chewy, about 45 minutes. When the sorghum is done cooking, drain off any excess water and return it to the saucepan.
- Now you can prepare the pickled raisins. Put the golden raisins in a mason jar. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, pour over the raisins, and allow it to come to room temperature. Any leftovers can be kept covered in the fridge.
- Set your Instant Pot to sauté mode and melt the coconut oil. When hot, add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until soft, stirring often.
- As the onion cooks, combine the cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
- Add the garlic and spices to the Instant Pot and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Then pour in the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chickpeas, squash, and dates. Set your Instant Pot to High Pressure and adjust the timer to 10 minutes. Twist the lid to lock and make sure the pressure valve is closed.
- When the cooking time is up, turn off your Instant Pot and allow the pressure to come down naturally for 10 to 15 minutes. Then eliminate any remaining pressure using the quick release valve before unlocking the lid.
- Give the tagine a good stir and season with salt, to taste. Serve a generous scoop over a plate of cooked sorghum (or the grain of your choice) and garnish with pickled raisins and fresh cilantro.