Moroccan Tagine with Sweet Potatoes + Beets, food for runners (or this runner)

Moroccan Tagine with Sweet Potatoes + Beets, food for runners (or this runner)



There is nothing like a few days spent living with others to put into perspective how truly personal is our choice in food. While I will happily eat roasted broccoli or leftover kale salad for 9am snack (and frequently do), even the idea of kale salad at a seemingly more appropriate time of day might leave others running for the door.



This point is driven home in my frequent conversations about food with others. My work at the university has often left me chatting about the differences between foods here in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world–how everything is just sooo sweet–and how diets inherently change even without the individual really attempting to when taking up residence here.



In sharing this recipe, I’ll make a point in saying first that I question the title and definitely the authenticity as I’ve never been to Morocco and have only eaten at one semi-Moroccan restaurant. And yet I love the flavors of “Moroccan” foods, particularly the tagines with sweet, savory, and spicy notes. So I’ll take liberty and call this my own version of a Moroccan tagine.

Second, I can see some camps loving this and others, again, running for the door because whoa, there are tooo many vegetables and don’t get me started on Rebecca’s fondness for spices.



But basically I call this the type of food that I like to eat to fuel my running life. Or more adequately, it is the food I tend to crave before a big run or race. So when William and others were packing sandwiches for our relay race a few weeks back, I found myself making and then eating Moroccan sweet potato + beet tagine with quinoa to fuel my runs and turning to it again a few more times throughout the ensuing weeks.

It is also a recipe I know I will adapt and make further into the fall season and the months (and miles) to come.




Moroccan Sweet Potato + Beet Tagine, serves 6-8
Inspired by Vegetarian Everyday

Though I tend to use a heavy hand with the harissa, I haven’t yet purchased or made one that has been nearly as spicy as the kind I’ve had in a restaurant–and its flavor tends to get muted by all the sweet notes of the apricots and currants. Use more or less, or even leave out, as you see fit.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 inches fresh raw ginger, finely grated
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1  1/2 teaspoons cumin
sea salt, to taste
2 tablespoons harissa
4-5 large tomatoes, diced
zest and juice of one lemon
3-4 beets, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 medium eggplant, sliced into large pieces
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 2-inch pieces
2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into 2-inch pieces
10 dried apricots, each sliced into about six pieces
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1/4 cup currants
thinly sliced fresh mint, to serve
cooked millet, quinoa, brown rice or other, to serve


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion for a few minutes until it becomes soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and the spices and allow to cook for about 30 seconds more.
  2. Stir in the harissa, diced tomatoes, lemon zest and juice. Bring the sauce to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer.
  3. Add the beets, eggplant, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and apricots. Stir well so everything is nice and mixed, then cover and simmer for about an hour. Keep it covered as much as possible, but stir a couple times throughout the hour.
  4. Once the vegetables are tender all the way through, add in the cooked beans and currants, cook for about 5 minutes more to heat through, and then season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. Serve over cooked millet or other grain with a garnish of sliced mint on top.

summer quinoa salad with zucchini, eggplant, green beans + tomatoes

summer quinoa salad with zucchini, eggplant, green beans + tomatoes



Even though I am no longer a teacher, there is something about the beginning of the school year that gets me excited for a fresh start, eager minds, clean hallways, and a newly decorated classroom. And so it was when I walked the hallways of the elementary school I work with this last week. Even though I’ve been there all summer with my high school students managing the school garden, the teachers are back now and the place is slowly coming to life after its summer slumber. There are fresh new beginnings in the air.

At the same time, the internship I created for my students ended this week, and so marks the last time I will work with this particular summer program, as I too am beginning to close the chapter of my work in school garden education. It has been a journey and a learning experience, and I can say on the other end of three+ years, I’m glad I trusted my intuition in taking the risky position that is my job, as it didn’t start out being financially sustainable and there was much jostling back and forth with funding cuts and uncertainty in the in-between. And so it’s kind of ironic that now on the other side, I am choosing to walk away from the work not having the future months figured out, but with an awareness that I won’t know what comes next until I take this step.

Beyond all learning and experience I have gained from the actual work, maybe the biggest lesson I have learned since stepping in to the “real world” of work, is how to trust that feeling of needing to close the book and walk away, even as it has been enjoyable, safe, comfortable, and I’ve been part of an amazing and cohesive team.




With all this in mind, I think it is fitting to share a recipe here that was first schemed up in the school garden surrounded by all the vegetables we were harvesting that day and adapted in the moment according to my students’ preferences. Each week of the summer, they have been cooking in the garden one afternoon and providing samples to their CSA customers utilizing whatever produce is in abundance that week. In this late summer season, everything is going full throttle and so this salad has a little of everything. There are random little pops of sweet like ground cherries balancing the creamy leeks and crunchy beans. There were a few hazelnuts leftover from another week that provided more texture, directly opposite of the squishier quality of the eggplant and zucchini. And there was a lemon in the fridge that needed to be used and from it, we all enjoyed the lemon-Dijon dressing. All in all, this became a showcase of all the summer vegetables and everyone that tried it–whether high school student or adult–loved it.




summer quinoa salad with zucchini, eggplant, green beans + tomatoes, serves 4

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

extra virgin olive oil

2 small leeks, thinly sliced

1 lb. green beans, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1 small zucchini, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 cup ground cherries

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped or halved

2 tsp. Dijon mustard, preferably coarse grained

2 tsp. honey

juice from ½ a large lemon

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. olive oil

sea salt & black pepper

  1. In a medium saucepan, add quinoa and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and then cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, add a splash of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and the leeks. Cook, stirring regularly until leeks are golden and crispy, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. At this point, stir in the summer squash. Cook for a few more minutes and then add the green beans. Cook a bit longer – just until the beans brighten up and lose their raw bite and the squash softens.
  4. Turn out into a bowl and stir in the ground cherries, tomatoes, raisins, hazelnuts, and cooked quinoa.
  5. Make the dressing by whisking together the mustard and honey. Add lemon juice, vinegar, and oil and whisk for about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper according to taste.
  6. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and stir until everything is well mixed.

aged cheddar, brown bread + spiced tomato chutney

aged cheddar, brown bread + spiced tomato chutney



I have a memory of eating a cheese sandwich on the patio at Ballymaloe, the famed Irish country house and restaurant, on an August day many years ago. William and I were staying at Ballymaloe over the bank holiday weekend while working in Ireland that summer and it was a trip we saved up the bulk of our travel budget to experience. We took the bus to get there and without a car and miles from any town, lunch was kind of an interesting affair. The day I ate my cheese sandwich, lunch was not being served. But they knew we were young and hungry twenty-somethings and the place is known for service beyond this world, so we were offered a choice of a couple sandwiches. Even then I wasn’t overly fond of meaty meals and though none of the options sounded particularly like what I was craving, I opted for cheese. I expected something of the sort of cheese sandwich we might be served in America, either with processed cheese or a sandwich of the grilled affair.





What came from the kitchen was neither. It was homemade brown bread covered in big, thick slices of Irish farmhouse cheddar, the kind that’s been aged for quite some time. I stared at the sandwich, at first thinking to myself, there is no way I need to or am going to eat that much cheese. Hah. Once I began I realized how good it was and before I knew it I was polishing off the plate, satisfied and completely guilt free. I’ve thought about that cheese sandwich often over the years, not particularly desiring to reinvent it again but thinking instead how it encapsulated that perfect weekend in which we had no plans beyond how to get there and no cares other than exploring the farm, the cookery school gardens, and the surrounding countryside with the wheat and oats ready to harvest and a few combines out doing so. We don’t have a single picture of that weekend because we deliberately opted to truly live in the experience instead. It was my first time in the countryside of County Cork and even though I have a deep fondness for Ireland, I really felt at home, truly like there must be history here in the far southwest countryside and rolling hills. Either that, or my foodie nose sniffed out the real farm to fork food-centric part of the country and just wanted to stay in it forever.




Since then, too, cheddar hasn’t been in my diet and neither has that sort of brown bread. Truly, travel in general has changed a lot for me since those days when I didn’t worry about food allergies and could eat exactly what I was craving without making someone else sacrifice their own food desires. I didn’t have any tomato chutney during that Ballymaloe weekend but their tomato chutney business began before the restaurant and guest house did and I came home with a jar of their famous recipe. I hadn’t given tomato chutney a thought since until a quick weekend in Seattle this past June. I always travel with at least my breakfast these days but William woke up a little later than I and wanted to go out for a quick brunch. We somehow got in to Morsel, a popular Ballard breakfast spot, before the line got too long. While I sat at a little table in front of their biscuit case, I noticed their tomato jam was a staple and seemed to be quite popular. Even though I only had a pot of tea at Morsel, I was reminded again of a time when traveling and eating nice bread and cheese and tomato jam because it sounded good was second nature.

I was also reminded that travel memories are what we make of them and though food is an intricate part of those memories and I love getting inspired to make new things because of travel, the memories really aren’t about the food. They are about the experience, the atmosphere, the kind way a stranger becomes a connection, the quiet and deep catch-up chat in a packed coffee house on a Saturday morning, the way we’re put at ease by a conversation in the library after dinner, the thrill of riding rickety bikes up quiet country lanes with no one else around save a few cows, and the deep satisfaction of sitting in the sun on the patio of a house that has more years of history than any building in this country, thinking of absolutely nothing other than how perfect the moment at hand actually is.





Aged Cheddar, Brown Bread + Spiced Tomato Chutney

The Recipe Redux theme this month is meals inspired by our travels. This one has been a long time coming but is inspired by that weekend at Ballymaloe, by a lunch platter/plowman’s lunch recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, and by that little tea and brunch at Morsel in Seattle. I’ve been scheming up ways to make really nice bread and vegan cheese into a meal for a while now. When I initially began eating gluten and dairy-free, I avoided all processed foods–like cheese and gluten-free bread–as much as possible. Since then, the offerings have much improved and there are reasonable substitutes without questionable ingredients–especially when it comes to cheese. I used Vtopian Aged Cheddar and much to my surprise, the flavor was very much in line with a nice farmhouse cheddar. As you can see from the pictures, it has a cashew base and so becomes quite spreadable when warm. If you’re not adverse to cow’s milk cheddar, William’s current favorite is Kerrygold Reserve.

For the meal to serve 2:

nice aged cheddar of choice, thickly sliced

2-4 thick slices bread

tomato chutney

a little side salad for balance, optional


Tomato Chutney, makes 4 cups, adapted from Ard Bia Cookbook

3 cloves

1/2 a cinnamon stick

1 star anise

1 bay leaf

a good pinch of ground cardamom

1 tsp. canola oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs. brown mustard seeds

1 quart canned tomatoes (or 2 14-oz. cans)

1/4 cup currants

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

  • In a hot pan, toast the cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, and star anise until they start to release their aromas. Then remove and wrap them in either cheesecloth or put in a tea ball.
  • In a large pot, heat the oil and saute the onion and ginger until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and mustard seeds and cook for another minute or so.
  • Add the tomatoes, the spice parcel, the cardamom, and cook uncovered over a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes. Then add the currants, raisins, vinegar, and sugar.
  • Cook for an additional 45 minutes until it has thickened up and and most of the liquid has cooked off.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove the whole spices, and then cool before transferring to a jar.


Gluten-Free Struan Bread, (here’s a quick history of struan bread)

2 Tbs. chia seeds

1/2 cup water

1 cup teff or millet flour

1 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup leftover cooked grain such as brown rice, oats, or millet

1/4 cup amaranth or quinoa flour

1/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1 1/2 tsp. yeast

3/4-1 cup water

2 Tbs. canola oil

2 Tbs. maple syrup

  • Soak the chia seeds in 1/2 cup water for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare an 8 1/2 x 4-inch loaf pan by either lining parchment or rubbing the bottom and sides with oil and then flour.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, almond meal, flax, salt, and xanthan gum. Set aside.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in 3/4 cup of warm water. Allow the yeast to begin to foam and then add the oil and syrup. Mix the yeast mixture into the chia mixture and make sure the chia seeds have no lumps in them, and then add the liquids to the dry mixture. With a wooden spoon, mix well, just until the dough is soft and holding together. It will be fairly wet. If it seems more like a drier dough that can be picked up in the hands, add additional water so it is looser.
  • Pour the mixture into the loaf pan, and smooth the top. Take a serrated knife and score a line running the length of the loaf, just off the center. Then place it in the oven and turn down the temperature to 350 degrees F.
  • Bake for one hour at that temperature and then turn down the oven to 300 degrees F. Bake for an additional 40 to 60 minutes.