One of the hardest parts about giving up six main food groups and items for baby A (she has protein digestion issues so I’m not eating dairy, wheat, eggs, fish, soy or peanuts) is finding quick, easy weeknight meals. Through a lot of trial and error, J and I have learned that some meals that look easy aren’t and some that look time-consuming are actually simple. This is a simple one. We’d put off making Lamb Tagine with Potatoes and Chickpeas from Williams Sonoma because it looked complicated. We were throughly surprised to learn it was easy and perfect for a busy weeknight.
Lamb Tagine with Potatoes and Chickpeas
- 3 teaspoons cumin seeds we used ground
- 3 teaspoons coriander seeds we used ground
- 3/4 teaspoons peppercorns we used ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika we used Hungarian
- 1 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons salt plus more, to taste (we used Kosher)
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 lb. boneless leg of lamb cut into 1-inch cubes (we just used stew lamb, which was perfectly sized)
- 1 yellow onion julienned
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 pound lb. small Yukon Gold potatoes halved (we ended up using aand it was perfect!)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
- 1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained, 15 oz.
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
In a small fry pan over medium-low heat, toast the cumin and coriander seeds, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a spice grinder, add the peppercorns, paprika, ginger and the 2 tsp. salt and grind until well combined. Set aside. If using ground, skip the grinding step and just combine in a small bowl. Mix with a fork.
In a tagine over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the lamb on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. If you don't have a tagine, we used our most favorite pasta pot.
Add the remaining oil and the onion to the tagine or pot, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and the spice mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is caramelized, about 2 more minutes.
Add the lamb, water, potatoes and the 1/4 cup cilantro and bring to a simmer.
Cover the tagine or pot and adjust the heat so the mixture gently simmers.
Cook for 45 minutes, then add the chickpeas and lemon juice.
Continue cooking until the lamb is tender, about 45 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Garnish with cilantro and serve. Accompany with couscous or rice.
I LOVE this dish. It’s flavorful and warming and just delicious. It’s as good cold as it is right from the stove.
It’s been a roller coaster of spring-like temperatures and freezing, regular February temperatures around here the last few weeks. That plus the lovely no six diet (no: dairy, wheat,eggs, fish, soy or peanuts) diet I’m on to help baby A’s digestive issues means we’ve had to get very creative with dinners. Luckily for me, J has taken the changes to our culinary repertoire in stride and has come up with a lot of alternatives to our favorite dishes. He found this lovely one from Food and Wine magazine. Since I was baby A wrangling, I only got a picture of the finished product.
Mexican Black Bean Soup with Sausage Recipe
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white or yellow onion finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons garlic cloves very finely chopped (we used about 3of minced garlic, but we like garlic a lot)
- 1 teaspoon canned chipotle chile seeded and finely chopped (since we didn't have this on hand, we used 1ground chipotle)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Two 15-ounce cans black beans drained
- 3 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
- 3/4 pound smoky cooked sausage such as andouille or kielbasa, thinly sliced (we just went with two andouille)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice plus wedges for garnish
- 2 tablespoons very finely chopped cilantro
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Sour cream for serving we left this out because it's dairy
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering.
Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and the chipotle or ground chipotle, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the black beans and chicken stock and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.
Using a potato masher, coarsely crush some of the beans (we skipped this step).
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat.
Add the sausage and cook until browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add the sausage to the beans.
Then add the lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer the soup for 2 minutes to allow the flavors to blend, or longer if you'd like!
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve, passing the sour cream and lime wedges separately.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this ended up being very filling and just the right amount of heat to warm me from the inside. It’s absolutely a soup we will add to the rotation, even once we (hopefully!) can start adding the no items back to my diet.
During the last few months of my pregnancy, I had to increase my protein intake. Lucky for me, J found several recipes that tasted good, included several servings of vegetables and had lots of protein. This one from Tori Avey with a few modifications quickly became one of our favorites.
You can modify the spice level based on your tastes. If you want to add more eggs, feel free! It’s just as good the next morning on toast like huevos rancheros.
Shakshuka (Eggs in purgatory)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium brown or white onion peeled and diced
- 1 clove garlic minced (we use more!)
- 1 medium green or red bell pepper chopped
- 4 cups ripe diced tomatoes or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp chili powder mild
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- Pinch of cayenne pepper or more to taste
- Pinch of sugar (optional to taste)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5-6 eggs
- 1 container plain feta
- 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional for garnish)
Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium (we use our cast iron skillet for this).
Heat olive oil in the pan.
Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften.
Add garlic and continue to sauté until mixture is fragrant.
Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat until softened.
Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir to blend.
Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for another 5 to 7 minutes until it starts to reduce.
Taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences.
At a minimum, add salt and pepper to taste.
You can also add more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka.
Sprinkle the feta over the dish, or mix it in if you like.
Then crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. In our cast iron skillet, we can get about five eggs around the outer edge and one in the center.
The eggs will cook over easy on top of the tomato sauce. If you prefer more done eggs, you can heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook in the oven until set (when the skillet is jiggled, the eggs don't jiggle back).
We leave the mixture uncovered and let simmer for between 5 and 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced.
Be careful at this point, because the mixture can go from reducing to burning quickly.
Serve in a bowl alone, over rice or with some french bread.
This dish is delicious hot or cold. With sides or alone. It’s easy, filling and perfect for a late fall evening.
p.s. Summer 2016 update: without the cayenne pepper and the chili powder, our toddler loves this dish. We just add the extra spices onto our own plates.
There’s a dish at one of the best places to eat in town, but unfortunately it is only on the spring and summer menu, which isn’t out yet. With the extra warm weather this weekend, we decided to try our hand at making the same dish at home. We seriously lucked out. With a few modifications, this recipe is a near exact copy and was amazing.
Avocado Chicken Salad
- 4 avocados pitted and removed from skin
- 1/2 cup diced red onion we used white because it's what we had on hand
- 1 celery stalk diced
- juice from 1 lime (about 3 tablespoons feel free to add a bit more!)
- 1/4 cup cilantro (we left this out but it would have been a great addition)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt feel free to use a bit more
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 cups cooked shredded chicken we used three cooked chicken breasts. Oven roasted with chili lime seasoning
- 8 slices sourdough bread we used a pre-sliced loaf of french bread
Roast the chicken in the oven at 375 degrees, spiced with your favorite Mexican seasoning, we like chili lime.
Cook at least 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Dice the onions and the celery in a food processor.
When the chicken is cooked and slightly cooled, shred it with a fork or in the food processor. If you prefer your chicken salad a bit chunky, feel free to dice it instead.
We added the shredded chicken to the food processor and then added the avocados and spices. If you prefer it a bit chunky, just mix everything together in a bowl.
Taste and add lime juice and salt as needed.
When ready to eat, toast the bread.
We brushed both sides with olive oil and toasted each side until browned.
I was starving, so we didn’t wait for this to chill. In the summer, we will definitely chill the mixture for at least 30 minutes. Also, next time we’ll add a bit more cumin and maybe some more lime juice. This would be equally delicious with cucumber slices and bread. If you’d like it a little spicier, feel free to add a jalapeño. We will probably add some serranos from the garden this summer.
p.s. Summer 2016 update: Our toddler adores this dish. we just have to shred the chicken instead of cutting it into chunks and she gobbles it up!
Or homemade chile rellenos. A new grocery store opened in our town and it is amazing. I’ve described it as if Trader Joes and Whole Foods had a baby. The produce is fantastic. When I stopped by opening day, the poblanos were some of the best I’ve seen since leaving Texas. So I roasted them and we had them for dinner.
Homemade Stuffed Poblanos
- 1 in can whole tomatoespuree; or if you prefer fresh 5-7 large Roma tomatoes, 28 ounces
- 1 jalapeno chile; (ribs and seeds removed for less heat) minced
- 1 large or 2 small yellow or white onions; chopped
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
- 1 pound can black beans; rinsed and drained or about 1ground beef 19 ounces, we used 80/20 ground beef because it was also on sale at the new grocery store
- 4 ounces shredded pepper Jack cheese
- 1/4 block of Velveeta Queso Blanco cheese cubed (we had some left over from making Mag Mud at home)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 large poblano chiles; halved lengthwise ribs and seeds removed, stems left intact
- 1-2 tablespoons oil (vegetable olive, whatever you have on hand)
Preheat oven to 425.
In a blender or food processor, combine tomatoes in puree, jalapeno, half the onions, and 2 whole garlic cloves; puree.
Season with salt to taste.
Pour sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside.
Add a little oil to the skillet and sauté the onions, garlic and cumin.
If using ground beef, brown the beef in the same skillet with the garlic and onions, if you want, add some of the salsa.
Add half the poblano in the salsa covered baking dish.
Dividing evenly, spoon the onions and beef into the poblano half.
Sprinkle poblanos with the shredded pepper jack cheese.
If room add, the other poblano half with the inside in the salsa (so the skin side is up). (Since there wasn't room in our dish, I just added them where there was room.)
Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Add the Velveeta cubes and cover with the other poblano half. Note: you'll want to use a fork or other utensil, the poblano tops will be hot.
Return to the 425 degree oven for 20 more minutes or until the salsa is slightly thickened and the poblano half on top is starting to brown.
Let cool 10 minutes.
The poblanos that were on top of the salsa roasted up quite nicely adding a sweet char to the pepper. Next time, I’ll roast the entire poblano before adding the filling. Other than that, the only other addition is to smother the entire stuffed poblano in Mag Mud for extra creaminess.