Vegetarians or any vegetable fan can appreciate the combination of ingredients in this ragout. The pleasing balance of spicy and sweet - fiery hints softened with raisins' fruitiness - borrows from the imaginative cuisine of Morocco. This is one of the lively excursions that are increasingly made by cooks happy to venture beyond national boundaries and wide oceans, in search of different tastes and traditions.
Moroccan Vegetable Ragout with Raisins
(Preparation 15 to 20 minutes, cooking time 30 minutes)
2 T. olive oil
2 cups pearl onions, peeled and halved
2 medium carrots, cut into 1Ú8-inch thick slices (about 1 cup)
1Ú4 fennel bulb, cut into 1Ú8-inch thick slices (about 1Ú2 cup)
1Ú4 cup all purpose flour
Cinnamon stick (about 2 inches)
1Ú2 teaspoon ground cumin
1Ú2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large pinch saffron threads, crushed
3 medium red or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3Ú4-inch dice (about 2 cups)
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups raisins
2 cups (16 ounces) cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
2 small summer (crookneck) squashes, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1Ú2-inch thick slices (about 11Ú2 cups)
1 T. chopped fresh marjoram
1 small fresh tomato, seeded and cut into 1Ú2-inch dice (about 1Ú2 cup)
2 T. sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
Heat the oil in a large, heavy stockpot over medium-low heat. Coat the onions, carrots and fennel with flour and saute in the oil until golden brown. Add the cinnamon stick, cumin, ginger, saffron, potatoes, vegetable broth and raisins; cook about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas, squash, marjoram and tomatoes; cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 8 minutes longer.
To serve, transfer ragout to a serving dish and sprinkle with toasted almonds, if desired. Serve with grilled pita or other flatbread.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 330 cal., 6 g total fat (1 g saturated), 0 mg chol., 7 g pro., 66 g carbo., 7 g fiber, 330 mg sodium.
(AP recipe developed by the California Raisin Marketing Board)