As I’m getting a lot busier with Uni now I am finding less time to write about food and cook fresh meals for myself. I’m spending time in the library or at work and my student budget is now a lot lower than before with a busy summer ahead of me; I have struggled to find the time. However, today, I decided that what I needed to do was take a break and do something that I enjoy- cooking. It is very easy to get bogged down by stress and feel like you are not achieving, but I really find value in doing something just for me, and I believe everyone else should too.
As I said, money is low, so I went on a recipe hunt today using ingredients already in my fridge and cupboards. Luckily, as it always does, Google gave me the answer and this evening I cooked butternut squash and aubergine tagine.
There were actually quite a lot of recipes that had these two ingredients, so I sifted through to find one that best used up my leftovers. The ingredients were:
- ½ Butternut Squash
- 1 Aubergine
- 1 Onion
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Red chilli
- 100ml Water
- 1 x 400g Chopped tomatoes
- 1 Tomato puree squeeze
- 1tsp Cinnamon
- ½tsp Turmeric
- 1tsp Cumin
I began heating 2tbsp of oil in my casserole dish on a high heat on the hob. Once hot I added my diced onion and stirred for around 3-4 minutes until it had started to brown.
As I always find when creating big one pot dishes, it is always worthwhile chopping up all the ingredients before, just so you’re not frantically slicing and dicing and stirring the pan at the same time.
Once the onions had begun to turn golden brown I added the butternut squash and aubergine. To prep the squash, I used a sharp knife to carefully peel off the skin and chopped it into chunks. If you are using the whole squash you will also have to remove the seeds, however I only used the top half so mine was seedless. The aubergine was also chopped into rough chunks, I kept mine quite big, with the skin on. Although sometimes aubergine skin can be very bitter, when it is cooked in a sauce, like this or ratatouille, it softens and becomes sweet.
Ensuring the onions had been mixed well with the veggies, after about 5 minutes I added my ginger, chilli and garlic. I prepped these all in the same way, thinly slicing them all. I wish I had put a bit more chilli in this dish as I would’ve loved a bit more spice, but all of the other herbs and spices made up for it.
Once again, I stirred all the ingredients together for around 3 more minutes just so that everything had time to heat up.
At this point it was time to add the spices. Scattering over the turmeric, cinnamon and cumin the veg then started to become a lovely deep orange/red colour and the aromatic scents wafting from the dish were amazing. The spices began to absorb into the aubergine flesh as I stirred the pot regularly for another 5 minutes.
At this point the dish was still very dry, and therefore it was time to add the water and the can of chopped tomatoes. Using cold water from the tap I poured in 100ml, followed by the whole can of tomatoes. I always rinse the can out with a bit more water pouring this in too. To achieve an even deeper flavour I squeezed in 1tbsp of tomato puree, giving the mixture a darker colour.
I bought the tagine to the boil, allowing all of the veg to be covered by the tomato sauce and spices before turning the heat down to a simmer. I put the casserole dish lid on for around 10 minutes before removing and letting it cook for another 10. The allows any excess liquid to be steamed off, leaving a thick and flavoursome sauce.
I checked the butternut squash to see if it had softened, it was al dente just how I like it. If you like it softer you can keep it on the heat a little more. I chose to have my tagine with brown rice, a dollop of crème fraiche and a big squeeze of lemon. The recipe does also recommend adding in a handful of chopped coriander to serve, but that’s not my thing!
This was a really great find and I have lovely leftovers that I will be able to eat throughout the week and freeze too. It would be delicious with some crusty bread or even with some pasta.
Price wise to make the whole tagine it cost me around £1.80, which is a bit of a rough working out just because it is hard to quantify the spices. However, veg like aubergine and squash are really cheap in Aldi, along with tinned tomatoes and the other extras, therefore making it a real bargain dish. I reckon I have got around 3 portions left too, so it is a great dish for the family also.
The recipe was actually taken from Diabetes UK meaning it is also very healthy, with really low fat, sugars and salt. Here is the link- enjoy: