QF North_African_tangineWEB

Lamb and Lentil Tagine (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)

Lamb blends with fragrant spices in this Moroccan dish.

Tagines are usually served at home and are cooked in a glazed earthenware tagine, a covered dish with a conical lid. It’s used for slow cooking the ingredients. Steam gathers in the top of the conical lid and falls on the food, keeping it moist without basting. However, any type of skillet or casserole can be used for this dinner.

I’ve shortened the cooking time by using tender lamb cut for lamb kabobs and using a skillet. Lentils do not need soaking overnight and take only 20 minutes to cook, making this a 30-minute meal inspired by the flavors of North Africa. This dish tastes great the second day. If you have time, make double the recipe and save half for another quick meal.

SHOPPING LIST: To buy: 3/4 pound lamb cubes (cut for kabobs), 1 medium tomato, 1 small bunch cilantro, 1 small package washed, ready-to-eat spinach, 1 small jar ground cumin and 1 small package dried lentils. Staples: olive oil, frozen chopped onion, garlic, ground cinnamon, salt and black peppercorns.

Lamb and Lentil Tagine

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 pound lamb cubes (cut for kabobs), about 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups frozen chopped onion
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into eight wedges
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 10 fresh cilantro sprigs plus 2 tablespoons chopped leaves (divided use)
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils (see note)
  • 4 cups washed, ready-to-eat spinach

Note: Rice can be substituted for the lentils. Use 1/2 cup white long-grain rice; add 1-1/2 cups water and cook in the same manner as the lentils.

Heat oil in a medium-size nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the lamb cubes and brown for 2 minutes, turning the cubes to make sure all sides are browned. Remove to a plate. Add the onion, garlic, tomato, cinnamon, cumin, salt and black pepper. Cook 1 minute to release the juices in the dried spices.

Add water, 10 sprigs cilantro and lentils. Bring the water to a simmer, reduce heat to medium, cover with a lid and gently simmer 20 minutes. The water should be absorbed. (If the skillet becomes dry before the lentils are cooked, add a little more water.) Remove cilantro sprigs, stir in lamb and spinach and cook 2 minutes. Divide between 2 dinner plates and sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro on top.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 562 calories (28 percent from fat), 17.4 g fat (4.4 g saturated, 7.3 g monounsaturated), 108 mg cholesterol, 51.7 g protein, 52.5 g carbohydrates, 20.9 g fiber, 175 mg sodium

Quick Fix is a Tribune News Service column from Linda Gassenheimer. She is the author, most recently, of “The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook,” “Delicious One-Pot Dishes” and “Quick and Easy Chicken.” Her website is dinnerinminutes.com. Follow her on Twitter @lgassenheimer. Email: linda@dinnerinminutes.com.

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