Root Vegetable Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

My quest to eat more plants is in full swing.  Here are some of our favorite vegetarian recipes from this past month:

Pasta with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Pine Nuts from the Kitchn

Corn Cakes with Tomato Avacado Relish from Annie’s Eats, originally from Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen

Tofu Tikka Kebabs from Meatless Celebrations

Variegated Spiced Latkes, topped with homemade applesauce, from Food 52

Inspired by the preserved lemons I found lurking in the back of my refrigerator, I set out to make a vegetarian tagine.  Tagine refers to the North African dish as well as the cooking vessel that it’s traditionally prepared in.  Jamie Oliver, in Jamie cooks, discusses his travels to Morocco, sharing his love for the big communal ovens where the locals would drop off their tagine pots, filled with meat and vegetables on their way to work.  They slow-cook all day, and are ready to pick up on their way home.  Now that’s my kind of cooking!  Since most Americans don’t have a tagine in their kitchen, this recipe is adapted for a dutch oven.

Root Vegetable Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Yield: Serves 10 to 12  |  Total time: 1 hour
Print Recipe

 RECIPE AND PHOTO BY Jennifer McGovern, R.D.



This recipe may look daunting with the long list of ingredients, but it’s well worth the time and effort.  Most of  the effort is prep time, with lots of peeling and dicing.  Don’t skimp on the olives; they are the “meat” of this dish.  The preserved lemons are essential as well, adding an acidic, tangy flavor to this aromatic healthful meal.

Recipe inspired by Mostly Foodstuffs, original recipe from Paula Wolfert’s Slow Mediterranean Kitchen


1 pound new potatoes

4 cups vegetable stock

Generous pinch of saffron

2 onions, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tomato, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 turnips, peeled and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 rutabaga, peeled and diced

½ preserved lemon, rind and flesh intact

¼ cup flat-leafed parsley, chopped, plus more to serve

¼ cup cilantro, chopped, plus more to serve

½ teaspoon salt

2 to 3 dozen Greek olives (I used unpitted mixed olives, just warn your guests if you use olives with pits, so they can avoid breaking any teeth!)

Garnish: ½ preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and cut into thin slices


  1. Scrub potatoes and cut into thick slices and place into a bowl of cold water.

  2. Heat the vegetable broth and add the saffron, letting it “bloom."  Set aside.

  3. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, cook the onions in olive oil until softened.  Add the tomato, ginger, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes, and garlic.  Cook, stirring, for two minutes.

  4. Drain the potatoes and add them to the pan along with the turnips, carrots, sweet potato, and rutabaga.  Add the ½ preserved lemon, flesh and all, into the pan. Toss to coat, adding parsley, cilantro, and salt to taste.

  5. Add the broth/saffron mixture to cover the vegetables.  If the vegetables aren’t mostly covered with liquid, add water.  Bring pan to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.  Carefully remove vegetables to a serving dish using a large slotted spoon or spider strainer (try retrieving the preserved lemon while you scoop.  Remove it from the mixture and discard.  The flavor is what we want.)  Add olives to the remaining liquid left in pan.  Bring to a boil, cooking until the broth reduces to a thicker sauce.  Pour the sauce and olives over the vegetables.  Garnish with the more preserved lemon rind from 1/2 lemon and additional parsley and cilantro.  May be served atop couscous with your favorite harissa on the side.







Date Published: March 20, 2013
1 comment

All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

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  1. September 4, 2016 6:14 pm by Morgane Houssais Reply

    I made it yesterday following exactly the recipe.. the result was great!
    The only 2 things I’m thinking about changing next time, is replace half of the potatoes by zucchinis and chickpeas for making the balance a bit more to my taste, and add proteins.
    But otherwise, great taste already!

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