One of my best friends, Pedro, is Tunisian and no-one makes a North African stew like he does. From the many years of watching him make different versions of this popular dish, I’ve taken what I’ve learned to make a simplified vegetarian alternative. This is hearty, especially with the addition of chickpeas, and I guarantee even meat lovers will fall in love with my couscous.
Serves: 4 / Prep: 30 minutes / Cook: 1 hour
1 eggplant, cut into 8 rounds
2 sweet potatoes, each cut into 6 rounds
100ml olive oil
salt flakes and freshly ground
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 x 400g can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
500ml chicken stock
6 pitted prunes, torn in half
handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, to serve
2 garlic cloves, peeled
pinch of salt flakes
1 long green chilli, cut into 4
3 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 preserved lemon quarter, flesh
removed, rind roughly chopped
130g green olives, pitted
60ml olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place the eggplant and sweet potato in a large bowl.
Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Toss and then arrange the pieces in a single layer on the prepared trays.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until just tender.
Meanwhile, combine the onion and garlic in the bowl of a small food processor and blitz until evenly chopped.
Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion mixture and a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes until the onion is very soft.
Stir in the spices and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the tomato paste, tomatoes, chickpeas, stock and prunes, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook for 25 minutes.
Stir the sweet potato and eggplant into the tomato and chickpea sauce and cook for 10 minutes so the flavours develop.
For the green sauce, pound the garlic and a pinch of salt to a paste using a mortar and pestle. Add the chilli, parsley and preserved lemon and pound until very bruised, then add the olives and grind to a rough paste. Mix in the olive oil.
Cook the couscous as per the packet instructions. Transfer to a large platter or serving bowl.
Pile the vegetable stew on top of the couscous and spoon over the green sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.