For the second year in a row, my mom flew out to Pittsburgh last month for a special summer visit. In addition to shopping and having a delicious lunch from a French bakery in the city’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, we also cooked together which besides touring, is my favorite thing to do with my mom. While last year we made a Vietnamese meal, this year we cooked Moroccan since my mom had been intrigued by my tagine ever since I told her about it. We opted to make a lamb tagine with dates, almonds and pistachios from my cookbook, Tagine: Spicy Stews from Morocco by Ghillie Basan. The author notes that this tagine is a favorite at weddings or other family feasts. As I’ve mentioned before, a tagine is just about one of the easiest things to make and so I definitely recommend trying this recipe out. (Just a note-we skipped adding the pistachios since we couldn’t find any at my local supermarket and one could easily substitute lamb for beef or chicken.)
Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds and Pistachios
2-3 tablespoons olive oil plus a pat of butter
2 onions, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/4 lb lean lamb, from the shoulder, neck or leg, cut into bite-size pieces
8 oz. moist, ready-to-eat, pitted dates
1 tablespoon dark honey
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
a pat of butter
2-3 tablespoons blanched almonds
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios
a small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Heat the olive oil and butter in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish. Stir in the onions and sautee until golden brown. Stir in the turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. Toss in the meat, making sure it’s coated in the spice mixture. Pour in enough water to almost cover the meat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for roughly 1 1/2 hours.
Add the dates and stir in the honey. Cover with a lid again and simmer for another 30 minutes. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.
Heat the olive oil with the butter in a small pan. Stir in the almonds and pistachios and cook until they begin to turn golden brown. Scatter the nuts over the lamb and dates and sprinkle with flatleaf parsley. Serve with buttery couscous and a sharp, crunchy salad with preserved lemon to cut the sweetness or with Moroccan vegetable soup which you can find the recipe for here.