Potato and Tofu Tagine

When I first started avoiding gluten, I had real problems figuring out what to eat. Initially, I lost weight (hurray), and then came the slow old process of figuring out how to make substitutions for glutenous favorites such as bread and pasta. There are days when I wonder how wise this was. Like most folks in the developed world, I have to keep a sharp eye on my weight, and to be honest, following a diet that was predominantly vegetables (as I did when first gluten free), was actually pretty invigorating, and made weight control a no-brainer. However, moving on, we do now eat more stews, soups, and salads than we used to, despite the fact I’ve found tasty GF dried pasta and a bread recipe that I could indulge in daily. This tagine is a lightly spiced, lightly fruit sweetened stew, with a flavor intensity that comes from the relatively long simmering time. Serve up with quinoa or rice, instead of the more traditional couscous which is made from wheat.

You’d think that simmering for upwards of 40 minutes would leave everything in a stew with a soft texture. However, the almonds retain some of their crunch, the potatoes (because they’re cooked in tomatoes) retain their integrity, and have a slightly more resilient surface in comparison with their soft insides, and the tofu ends up with a minor league springy bite. Note that when you test the potatoes for being cooked, you should bite a piece because their firm exterior can be misleading if you only prod them with a fork. This stew is actually better for sitting for a while after being cooked, as the flavors meld and develop, so don’t feel you have to rush it.

Potato and Tofu Tagine

Potato and Tofu Tagine served with quinoa.

This recipe calls for both fresh and powdered root ginger. It’s up to you whether you include slices of the fresh ginger, or grate it for a uniform flavor. I think if you’re not used to fresh ginger in your food, then it can come as a bit of a surprise to bite into a whole slice of the stuff, though the flavor is mellowed somewhat during the cooking. I’ve stipulated grating the ginger in this recipe, but you could also try it with slices.

I keep my fresh root ginger in a freezer bag in the freezer, and then use a sharp knife to scrape off the skin, and a microplane to grate off as much as a recipe calls for, when I’m ready for it. However, if you find yourself with raw, unfrozen ginger, skinning it and putting it in an electric coffee grinder (which is dedicated to spices and has never seen coffee) along with the garlic, is a good way to prepare it.

Pinch of saffron threads
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 – 2 shakes of ground cayenne pepper (or enough so its heat is just discernible)
1/8 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp margarine / olive oil
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, coarsely diced

14 – 16 oz tofu, frozen and defrosted
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1” cube of ginger, peeled and minced
28 oz can of chopped tomatoes in juice
1 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
1/2 cup (2.5 oz) raisins or sultanas
3 tbsp tomato puree or minced sun dried tomatoes preserved in oil
2 tbsp light or chickpea miso
5 tbsp dried mushroom powder
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
18-20 (5 oz) pitted prunes
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup water
2 tsps sugar, if your tomatoes are a bit too sharp

Gather all the dry spices together in a small bowl.

Heat the margarine/oil in a large pot, and cook the onion over a medium low heat for 5 – 10 minutes until softened and starting to brown.

Place the tofu between two stacked plates and squeeze the plates together, tilted over a sink to remove the water. This shouldn’t take more than a minute.

Finely chop the garlic, and finely grate the ginger (I use a microplane).

Once the onions are brown, reduce the heat under them; add the garlic and ginger, and allow to warm through for a minute.

Stir in the spices, and allow to warm for another minute.

Crumble the tofu onto the onion, leaving many pieces in bite-size chunks. Stir to cover with the spice mixture.

Add the remaining ingredients; stir to amalgamate; cover and cook over gentle heat for ~40 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked, and the sauce has thickened.

Adjust seasoning with salt and sugar, and serve hot over cooked quinoa.

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