By: Christina Bauer with Thoughts From Flora Ambassador, Rob Krar
I have a love affair with root vegetables that has been around since I was a small child. I remember scarfing up parsnips at my English relative’s homes and they have been a go-to ever since. Such a great winter option, they are abundant and are some of the only things looking fresh and happy in the grocery store this time of year. I have also recently fallen in love with Middle Eastern flavors in a big way. It all began with a gifted cookbook called Ottolenghi’s Plenty. I love using combinations of dried fruits and nuts, the fragrance of cumin, paprika, and ginger, and exotic flavors like Orange Blossom water and have been experimenting ever since. Luckily Rob is amenable to both of these obsessions. The vegetables in this dish are meltingly tender and when paired with a healthy grain this is a filling and satisfying end to a big day of training. I call this recipe a tagine but I use this word more for the flavor profile than texture–this definitely is more of a stew that is inspired by the iconic tagine. Ready made spice mixes are a great way to add flavor confidently and I use one here–if you don’t have one you can easily use a combination of dried ginger, paprika, turmeric, and pepper. The nutty flavor of the Flora Walnut Oil is a real treat and adds a nice depth of flavor to this vegan dish. Flora Goji berries are certainly not traditional but I love the tart yet sweet flavor they impart and they pair well with the vegetables and other additions. This recipe has a long list of ingredients but is remarkably simple to execute. It’s perfect for those evenings when you are around the home checking off the to-do list. The dish will simmer away and fill the entire house with a wonderful aroma. NOTE: There are a few ingredients that may be tricky to find–if the preserved lemon or Orange Blossom water becomes elusive by all means leave them out, but do give them a try if you find them. I have seen and purchased preserved lemons from Trader Joe’s of all places and have recently seen Orange Blossom water in a well-stocked grocery store. I must not be alone in my obsession with these flavors!
I’m fortunate for many reasons, the least of which is having a partner in life with a passion for food and the skill and patience to create unforgettable evenings at the dinner table. I wish I could say I play an equal part in Christina’s creations, but my role usually involves a lot of chopping and a sink full of dishes to clean after, each one more than worth it. I’m a stickler for HOT food and the root vegetables in this dish hold the heat from the Dutch oven superbly. They might play second fiddle to the spices, but the figs, goji berries, and apricots add a sweetness to the tagine that really steals the show for me. The aromas, taste, and warmth of this dish make it one of my favorites and a welcome end to a big day of pushing myself in the mountains or on the trails. For more recipes from Christina, visit her blog: http://feedingthefrenzyblog.com/.