Marilyn’s Mediterranean Orzo and Moroccan Tagine with Yams in Peanut Sauce
Here are some of the recipes that Marilyn Lebowitz teaches her widowers in her cooking class called Cooking for One. Marilyn says that this orzo recipe is from a Greek takeout restaurant she used to go to decades ago. In fact, the recipe was so old that she had it on a paper that had been mimeographed! A few years ago she was looking for some papers in her kitchen and accidentally found the recipe. “It was like Christmas to me!” she says. Marilyn added the spinach.
This affordable dish is hearty enough to be a main, served with a big leafy green salad and crusty French bread, or it’s a perfect side dish to roasted chicken.
Kosta’s Mediterranean Orzo
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 large tomato, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup orzo
2 10-ounce packages frozen cut spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Bring the chicken broth, butter, tomato sauce, tomato, onion, salt, and pepper to a boil. Add the orzo and stir so as not to stick. Cover and reduce heat so the orzo boils slowly. Stir occasionally. Simmer until the orzo is tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in the spinach and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan and simmer, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
This North African-inspired dish gets its name from the vessel it’s cooked in (a tagine). However, a large pot works just fine for this deeply flavorful and aromatic stew. If you don’t add the optional chicken and use vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth, it’s the perfect hearty vegetarian dish, balanced with protein from the chickpeas and healthy fat from the peanut butter. Plus it’s loaded with plenty of vegetables. Try it served with rice (white or brown), couscous, or pita bread.
Moroccan Tagine with Yams in a Peanut Sauce
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 – 10
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 chopped red, green or yellow bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*1/2 to 3 cups vegetable or low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
3 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup raisins
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes (optional)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the cumin, curry, chili powder, and pepper and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the broth, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, lemon or lime juice, and ginger and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the raisins, peanut butter, and, if desired, the chicken and cilantro. Simmer 5 more minutes and serve hot.
*If serving as a soup, add more vegetable or chicken broth, or serve once as tagine over rice, later adding the additional broth to serve as soup for a second meal.