This Sunday I am making a Moroccan barbecued tri-tip. Miriam requested a stone fruit and corn salad to go with it. Son-in-law Chris is still on his ketogenic diet, so large amounts of both corn and fruit are forbidden to him. I don’t want him to starve or to live only on meat, so I had to think of a third dish that would fit into his diet.
I have some frozen artichoke hearts in my freezer, so an artichoke tajine came to mind. Looking on-line, almost all of the vegetarian tajines that I found included beans and/or couscous and/or fruit, all of which are off his diet for being too starchy or sugary. To make a tajine that was both vegetarian and ketogenic I would have to brave unexplored territory.
One bag of artichokes was a good start, but I needed more to bulk up the dish. I had wanted to use Jerusalem artichokes, but they are not in season. I have decided to use diakon again as a substitute for a starchy root vegetable.
To make the dish Moroccan, I decided to use Ras el Hanout. This “head of the shop” spice blend is a complex North African mix of spices and every spice seller has their own family secret blend. Today, instead of making my own, I am using a blend from Whole Spice.
Some onion, garlic, a bit of tomato and some lemon slices seem like good additions as supporting flavors to the artichokes. Some Kalamata olives and red pepper, added at the last minute, would give an accent of color to what would otherwise be a rather bland looking dish. And finally a garnish of flat leafed parsley would add some more color and complete the picture.
I do not actually own a tajine. I have yet to find one in San Jose that is large enough to please me. A small Dutch oven will have to do as a stand-in—if I seal it with foil it should keep the steam from escaping. The major difference between these two cooking vessels is that the condensed steam in a tajine flows down the sides of the lid, instead of dripping down on top of the cooking dish.
Note: This lid shape stops the middle of the dish from getting “soggy” and helps prevent burning at the edges of the dish by keeping them moist.
Karl’s Keto Moroccan Artichoke Tajine (Tagine)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. Ras el Hanout
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
12 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, quartered
1 cup diakon, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted
1 lemon, sliced thinly and seeded
1 Tbs. mint, whole leaves
1. Put the oil in a small Dutch oven and sauté the onions until just starting to pick up some color, about 5 minutes on medium high heat.
2. Add the garlic and continue sautéing for one more minute, until fragrant.
3. Stir in the Ras el Hanout and cook for 30 seconds more.
4. Add the chopped tomato and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato is starting to break apart, about five minutes.
Tip: Use your spoon to mash the tomatoes a bit.
5. Stir in the artichoke hearts, diakon, red pepper, olives, and 2-3 tablespoons of water.
Tip: You may use fresh artichokes, if you want to go to all that effort of trimming and cleaning, but frozen is ever so much more convenient.
6. Lay the slices of lemon on top of the other ingredients and cover the top of the pot with aluminum foil.
Tip: The foil gives the lid a tighter seal and keeps in the steam inside the pot.
7. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and reduce the heat to low.
8. Simmer for 20 minutes without lifting the lid.
9. Let the pot rest, still sealed, for 10 minutes off the heat.
10. Remove the lid at the table and garnish with the mint leaves.