Make Ahead

Big Zombie Goes Butternuts

October 14, 2010
0 Ratings
Photo by pierino
  • Serves 4 or more
Author Notes

Recently I had to cook for a "community" dinner, and here there is always that hopeless vegetarian faction, so I brought out the Big Zombie tagine for a butternut, chickpea, dried fruit side course. This was all improvisation but it does follow the rules of a good tagine. If you don't have a tagine (the actual cooking vessel) I would recommend a deep casserole, preferably earthenware. Serving size can be doubled or more. You'll also need to prepare couscous to accompany. —pierino

What You'll Need
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 can, chickpeas (garbanzo)
  • 1 cup, cauliflower florettes, cut or separated
  • 1 cup dried prunes or dried apricots or a combination of both
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup skinless almonds, marcona preferred
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinammon (or cassia), use a mortar and pestel if you can...
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  • Dried couscous
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  1. Peel, seed and dice up the squash into chunks about 1" per side.
  2. Combine your dry spices together in a pie pan. Use a fork to blend together as they will all go in at once.
  3. In the bottom of your tagine warm up some extra virgin olive oil (PLEASE don't call it #@!~#g EVOO!!!!)
  4. When the oil is hot add the squash and the garlic and turn with a wooden spoon until lightly colored.
  5. Add the chickpeas, cauliflower and the spices and continue to turn the mixture. Season with salt and pepper and then add the stock.
  6. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Meanwhile give the almonds a rough chop in a food processor. As the dish gets close to finish (when the squash is tender), stir in the almonds and dried fruits and recover. That means put the lid back on.
  7. Start the couscous to package directions.
  8. Taste for salt and pepper. Finally, plate the tagine over individual servings of couscous or allow your guests to do it themselves.
  9. Note to cooks: you can also add chopped preserved lemon or sliced okra to the mix (if you're not an "I hate okra" weenie). You might also keep some harissa on the side as a condiment.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • susan g
    susan g
  • Sagegreen
  • dymnyno
  • iuzzini
  • pierino
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.

14 Reviews

susan G. October 11, 2011
After enjoying this (made with eggplant for cauliflower and some preserved lemon), I took leftovers to make a very strange meal. On a premade pizza shell, I spread a zesty barbecue sauce, topped it with a thick layer of BZB and shredded sharp cheddar. Odd, but surprisingly delicious.
paigedoliver October 5, 2011
This was a great autumn dish. My husband fussed that it smelled like potpourri, but he had seconds. I especially like the bits with more acidity - preserved lemon or prunes, so don't skimp on those.
Sagegreen October 19, 2010
I like the prune and apricot combo. Go for the okra, too! Cassia I had not considered as a cinnamon alternative. Great spices, vegetarian factions everywhere.
dymnyno October 18, 2010
This does sound tasty! What did you do for the inevitable "where's the beef" faction?
pierino October 19, 2010
I was able to source out some local lamb, which I ground myself. One of the other cooks then made a shepards pie.
iuzzini October 15, 2010
This sounds so flavorful! Can't wait to try it! I love tagines. They are like magical cooking vessels. :)
pierino October 15, 2010
drbabs, who wouldn't like cornmeal battered okra? Okra weenies, that's who! They'll tell you it tastes slimely. Wimps. New Orleans gumbo without okra????
drbabs October 15, 2010
can't imagine!
aargersi October 15, 2010
I LOVE OKRA TOO! And hate EVOO (the expression, not the product) but Pierino - you do know that recover REALLY means pour a glass of wine, feet up, and drink, right?
pierino October 15, 2010
For me "recovery" meant as soon as I saw the food go out of the kitchen for service, I stumbled into an ante-room and went boneless on a couch. 25 diners and all of the food had to be out at EXACTLY 6:00 p.m. It was like "Top Chef".
drbabs October 15, 2010
Is that why the name is Big Zombie?
thirschfeld October 14, 2010
I really need to get a tangine. This looks like something I need to make soon. We have some great squash out of the garden and I still have okra growing. Have you ever steamed cous cous?
pierino October 14, 2010
Yes I have, T Bro. And in fact that's the preferred method. You could also buy a big ole' couscoussier where you cook the stew in the bottom and as the steam comes up it cooks and flavors the couscous. But the tagine, as in the vessel itself is great on its own. And I'm glad that you are NOT an okra weenie.
drbabs October 15, 2010
Non-okra weenies unite! I love okra. Of course my favorite way to eat it is cornmeal battered and fried; who wouldn't like that?