- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Vegetarians or any vegetable fans can appreciate the combination of ingredients in this ragout.

The pleasing balance of spicy and sweet — fiery hints softened with raisins’ fruitiness — borrows from the cuisine of Morocco. This is one of the lively excursions that are increasingly made by cooks happy to venture beyond national boundaries and wide oceans in search of different tastes and traditions.

Nutrition information per serving: 330 cal., 6 g total fat (1 g saturated), 0 mg chol., 7 g pro., 66 g carbo., 7 g fiber, 330 mg sodium.

Moroccan vegetable ragout with raisins

The preparation time is 15 to 20 minutes, and the cooking time is 30 minutes.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups pearl onions, peeled and halved

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices (about 1 cup)

1/4 fennel bulb, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices (about ½ cup)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

Cinnamon stick (about 2 inches)

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 large pinch saffron threads, crushed

3 medium red or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 2 cups)

1 cup vegetable broth

2 cups raisins

2 cups (16 ounces) cooked or canned chickpeas, drained

2 small summer (crookneck) squashes, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into ½-inch thick slices (about 1½ cups)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram

1 small fresh tomato, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice (about ½ cup)

2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (optional)

Heat the oil in a large, heavy stockpot over medium-low heat. Coat the onions, carrots and fennel with flour and saute in the oil until golden brown. Add the cinnamon stick, cumin, ginger, saffron, potatoes, vegetable broth and raisins; cook about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas, squash, marjoram and tomato; cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 8 minutes longer.

To serve, transfer ragout to a serving dish and sprinkle with toasted almonds, if desired. Serve with grilled pita or other flat bread. Makes 8 servings.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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