The flavors that make up a tagine are some of my absolute favorites: apricots, nuts, cinnamon, garlic, chili, coriander, and paprika to name a few, all intensified and soaked up into a rich tomato sauce. So, when I was thinking about re-creating one of our classic pre-vegan meals, I wanted to combine these ingredients with just a few small tweaks; to achieve the rich, familiar taste of the dish while still creating a whole food, healthy recipe with all of the beautiful flavors of North Africa. I’m thrilled to report that I’ve come up with something that ticks all of these boxes!
Quinoa Meatball Tagine [Vegan]
- 3.5 ounces quinoa, rinsed and drained.
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
- 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 12 dried apricots
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seeds, 3 tbsp water)
- 1 heaped tsp each cinnamon, coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, smoked paprika, turmeric
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp good soy sauce
- 1 tbsp apple cider or red wine vinegar
- Handful fresh coriander leaves
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Optional garnish: fresh oregano leaves
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- After rinsing, place the quinoa in a saucepan with 3/4 cup water. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer until the water has evaporated (about 12-15 minutes). Leave covered for another 5 minutes.
- While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the flax egg by combining the ground flax seeds and water in a small bowl and placing in the fridge.
- Next, put all of the ground spices into a pan and heat, moderately, on the hob for a few minutes until you can smell the aromas. Give the spices a stir to ensure even toasting and remove from the heat.
- The quinoa should now be ready. Fluff with a fork and place in a large bowl.
- Place the chickpeas, half of the pumpkin seeds, half of the apricots, the maple syrup, flax egg and half of the toasted spices in a food processor. Pulse until well combined, into a paste. I like to have a few of the chickpeas left whole, but if you want a completely smooth texture, keep pulsing until this happens.
- Turn out this mixture into the bowl with the quinoa and stir it all together.
- Line a flat baking tray with foil and oil the surface with 1 tsp of the olive oil.
- Make the meatballs by rolling a teaspoon amount of the mixture in your hands, placing each one on the tray. Make sure to wash your hands immediately after, to prevent orange staining!
- Cook on a middle shelf for 20 minutes, turning half way through.
- While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. Add the second tsp of olive oil to the pan that still has half of the toasted spices in it. Heat moderately, then add the chopped onion and garlic. Once softened, add the tinned tomatoes, stirring well. Add the soy sauce and vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into the food processor (no need to rinse from making the meatballs) and blitz until smooth. Pour back into the pan to reduce further.
- Add the remaining pumpkin seeds and apricots (chopped), the coriander and lemon juice. Keep on a low heat until you're ready to serve.
- If you're serving the tagine with zoodles, make these now.
- Assemble all the elements and sprinkle with more fresh herbs.