The past year or so has been a true re-awakening of my taste buds [too cheesy? but its true!]. Most everyone has had their fair share of Italian, Mexican, French, and Greek. But what about Indian and Moroccan?
Greek and Mediterranean foods have always been some of my favorites. Spanakopita? Yes please. Gyros? Keep ’em coming! Anything with tomatoes? Oh heck yes. So when I studied abroad in the UK/Scotland for a semester, well, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with a lot of the pub options which were pretty much limited to anything fried and something involving fatty meat cooked until it was hard as a rock. Oh, and peas- I liked that part.
Then, I discovered Indian food. I can’t even describe how amazing it was. Finally! Something with flavor that didn’t involve a salt shaker or a ketchup bottle! It also helped that my professor lived in India for a few years so he was able to help me with food selections. Rogan Josh, Chicken Tikka Masala, Vindaloo, Daal, Naan. I couldn’t get enough! The spicier the better too. And boy did they light me on fire a few times. Whoo eee they know how to add some spicy.
This trip was also when I had my first fig. One of the girls I was studying with came running back so excited that a market had fresh figs. What?! Figs exist outside of Fig Newtons? Say it isn’t so! THEN, you eat them by biting into them? But they look funny on the outside! “Trust me”. Best decision ever. I’m still on the lookout for figs-I think the season starts here soon…hopefully. I have a few fig recipes piling up that I can’t wait to try.
And who the heck knew fresh dates were so delicious!? I thought dates were those chopped yellow-ish things that came from a box my mom bought from the grocery store. The first [and only] time I tried them I had to hold back a gag. Seriously, if you have never had fresh dates before- go to the grocery store NOW and buy some [please]. They’re amazing and addicting. Right up there with prunes on my list. Yes- I like prunes, and no- I’m not 80.
When I started using pinterest that became my new outlet for prancing into unknown food territory. I was noticing a lot of recipes with names of things I had never heard before. Quinoa? Tagine? Chia seeds? Turmeric? What are these things you speak of?!
In my food re-incarnation I have tried a lot of new grains and spices and genres of food, but one I still know very little about is Moroccan. All I knew was that when my family and I went to Tangier I had one of the best meals of my life. Delicious spiced meat [of unknown origin…] on a stick, some sort of rice dish that didn’t translate into anything I had ever heard of before, sweet mint tea, honey fried dessert…ahhh it was heavenly. The beer was awful though. Seriously. AWFUL. Not that that stopped me from keeping the bottle…
Where am I going with this? Nowhere especially important, just delicious. I had been on the lookout for some Moroccan inspired dishes for a while when I came across this recipe for Moroccan Butternut Squash and Chickpea Tagine with Quinoa. Phew! Say that five times fast.
I’m kind of in love with this dish. Reason one: it’s really easy to make- don’t let the long list of spices deter you. Reason two: it has a perfect balance of spicy and sweet- I wouldn’t recommend changing any of the measurements on this one. Reason three: it makes for great leftovers- I made the burrito mentioned in the blog with feta; mmm so good. Reason four: ITS HEALTHY! What’s not to love??