Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine with Butternut Squash

I made this full-flavored Moroccan dish when we were dreaming of a family trip to Morocco. (Currently still a dream trip!) It was amazing to be able to create a tagine-like dish using a slow cooker. My husband actually often asks me if I “need” a tagine. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah DiGregorio. I increased the amount of garlic and served the chicken over Israeli couscous with sautéed kale on the side. The chicken was falling-off-of-the-bone tender. Wonderful!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Time: 4 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours

  • 1 medium (2 to 2 1/2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 3-inch-by-1-inch wedges
  • 8 pitted dates, such as Medjool, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 3 ½ to 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed (I used 8 thighs)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup minced ginger (from about a 4-inch piece peeled ginger)
  • 6 to 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon), plus more to taste
  • leaves of 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • cooked couscous or pita for serving, optional (I used Israeli couscous)
  • plain yogurt, for topping, optional (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • toasted slivered almonds, for topping, optional
  1. Finely chop the onion in a food processor; set aside. Mince the ginger and garlic in a food processor; set aside.
  2. Put the squash wedges and pitted dates into a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon stick, sweet paprika, turmeric, cumin, hot smoked paprika, ground ginger, cloves and cayenne and set aside.
  4. Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Pat the chicken dry and season it generously with salt.
  6. Working in two batches, put the chicken in the skillet skin side down and cook without moving it until the skin is deeply golden, crisp, and releases fairly easily from the bottom of the pan, about 5 to 8 minutes per batch. (You need to brown only the skin side.) Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker, nestling the thighs skin side up and in one crowded layer on top of the squash.
  7. Decrease the stovetop heat to medium. If there is a lot of rendered fat in the pan, pour off all but a thin layer to cover the entire bottom of the skillet. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  9. Add the reserved spices and stir well for about 30 seconds, until the mixture is a uniform brick red.
  10. Add the lemon juice, stir well to incorporate the browned bits, then scrape the mixture over the top of the chicken, making sure to include any spice-stained oil that remains.
  11. Cook on low until the squash and chicken are very tender and the flavors are mellow, at least 4 hours and up to 6 hours. If it’s more convenient, you can let the slow cooker switch to warm after 6 hours. The dish will hold on warm for another 2 hours before the chicken starts to dry out.
  12. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Add additional lemon juice and salt, to taste, and fold in the chopped parsley and scallions.
  13. Serve with couscous or pita, topped with yogurt and toasted almonds, as desired.

Sheet Pan Israeli Couscous with Browned Butter, Corn, Zucchini, & Basil

This wonderful side dish had the incredible nutty flavor from browned butter in every bite. It was a lovely way to enjoy my beautiful CSA corn and zucchini this week. 🙂

This dish was adapted from Meatless Sheet Pan Suppers: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight from the Oven by Raquel Pelzel. I added an extra ear of corn and used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend, a combination of Israeli couscous, red quinoa, orzo, and split dried garbanzo beans, instead of Israeli couscous alone. Great!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 to 4 ears fresh corn, shucked and kernels sliced off the cob
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous or Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced into ribbons
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Place the butter on a rimmed sheet pan and set it in the oven until the butter melts and smells toasty and nutty, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the browned butter into a small heatproof bowl.
  4. Stir the corn and zucchini into the remaining butter on the sheet pan, along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook until the zucchini softens and the corn loses its raw starchiness, about 8 minutes.
  5. Transfer the corn mixture to a large bowl and season with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste.
  6. Add the couscous to the pan alone with the boiling water and the remaining teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine, and wearing oven mitts, cover the sheet pan with aluminum foil (you may need 2 sheets), crimping it tightly around the edges to seal.
  7. Bake couscous for 10 minutes, remove the foil, stir the couscous, re-cover the pan, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, or until the couscous is plump and tender.
  8. Transfer the couscous to the bowl with the corn mixture.
  9. Add the reserved browned butter and most of the basil. Stir to combine and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
  10. Serve sprinkled with remaining basil.

Pork Tenderloin with Warm Harissa, Couscous & Roasted Vegetable Salad

I wanted to make this dish because it was so pretty! 🙂

I am obsessed with Harissa- and this recipe has an amazing homemade version. This fabulous Moroccan spice paste is then mixed into an Israeli couscous-based warm salad with roasted potatoes and vegetables. Wow. It lived up to its photo in the magazine- really lovely! The leftover Harissa was fabulous over the pork slices. This delicious recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

I’m bringing this dish to share at Fiesta Friday #73, co-hosted by Michelle @ Giraffes Can Bake and Juju @ Cooking With Aunt Juju. Join the party & check out their wonderful blogs as well!! Enjoy 🙂

Yield: Serves 6

For the Harissa Paste:

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili paste (I used chili powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Couscous:

  • 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

For the Roasted Vegetables:

  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch small carrots, preferably heirloom in a mix of colors, scrubbed or peeled and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt

For the Pork:

  • 2 pork tenderloins (2 1/4 pounds total)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola or safflower oil

For the Warm Salad:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • coarse salt
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Harissa Paste, plus more for serving

Make the Harissa Paste:

  1. Roast the red pepper over the flame of a gas burner, turning with tongs, until blackened and blistered. (Or roast under broiler, turning as needed.) Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 15 minutes. Rub off skin with paper towels, then remove and discard ribs and seeds.
  2. Puree pepper with garlic, chili paste, spices, oil, and lemon juice in a blender until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.) Season with salt and pepper.

Make the Couscous:

  1. Bring broth and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a medium pot. Add couscous and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente, about 8 minutes more.
  2. Remove from heat, drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat.
  3. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, spread in an even layer, and let cool, 10 minutes.

Make the Roasted Vegetables:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (on convection roast, if possible).
  2. On another rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes and carrots with olive oil; season with salt.
  3. Spread in a single layer and roast, tossing halfway through, until tender, about 20 minutes for the potatoes and up to 30 minutes for the carrots. Let cool completely on baking sheet.

Cook the Pork:

  1. Raise oven heat to 425 degrees (on convection roast, if possible).
  2. Season pork all over with salt and pepper. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Swirl in canola oil to coat. Add pork and brown on all sides, turning as needed, about 6 to 12 minutes total.
  3. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in middles registers 140 degrees, about 11 minutes. (I used my oven probe.)
  4. Transfer to a cutting board; let rest 15 minutes before cutting into 1/2-inch slices.

Make the Warm Salad:

  1. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium. (I used the same pan the pork was cooked in after removing the meat to rest after cooking.)
  2. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl, add tomatoes and herbs, and toss to combine.
  4. Add prepared couscous, roasted vegetables, and harissa paste to the salad; toss to combine. Season with salt.
  5. Arrange couscous mixture on a large platter and top with pork. Serve, with extra harissa on the side.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Spicy Israeli Couscous with Summer Squash

This side dish is delicious warm or cold. It has a little bit of spice from the red pepper flakes, but the amount can be easily adjusted to taste. I use Trader Joe’s Israeli Couscous blend which also includes red quinoa, split dried garbanzo beans, and orzo. We ate it with grilled Palestinian chicken and green salad- a gold standard Middle Eastern meal in our house! The recipe was adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.

  • 1 1/4 cups Israeli couscous
  • 1 3/4 cups stock (I used chicken stock)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow summer squash (or 1 small)
  • 1 cup diced zucchini (or 1 small)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (garbanzos)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder (I used sweet curry powder)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt, more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. Bring stock to a boil and then add couscous. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes.  (Yields 3 cups of cooked couscous.)
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add and sauté the squash, zucchini, red onion, and garlic for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chickpeas and spices. Then gently stir in the cooked couscous. Cook until hot, about 8 minutes.
  4. Garnish with parsley before serving.

Israeli Couscous with Spinach and Onions

Israeli Couscous

When we lived in Chicago we became obsessed with Israeli couscous. It has large grains, unlike traditional couscous, and is such a quick and tasty alternative to rice. When we moved to Long Island, it was not as readily available . We searched EVERYWHERE and finally found it at a Mediterranean restaurant in Great Neck (almost 1 hour away!). Thank goodness it has regained its popularity. Trader Joe’s has a great blend available which has Israeli couscous with red quinoa, split dried garbanzo beans, and orzo. I used it to make this side dish.

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen, chopped spinach or kale
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 cup israeli couscous or Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend
  1. Sauté onion, garlic, and greens in olive oil over medium heat until onion is softened. Season to taste with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  2. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add couscous, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes.

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