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Butternut Squash Tagine with Chilli Couscous

Maria Elia
  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation: 10
  • Cooking: 35
  • Ready: 45

A tantalising tagine to tempt your taste buds, from chef and author Maria Elia.


  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • pinch pinch of salt
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, crushed
  • 2 x 400 g tins tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 red chillies, split lengthways
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
  • 500 ml water
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • a small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • 50 g roasted flaked almonds, to garnish
  • a small bunch finely chopped coriander (optional)
  • 300 g instant couscous
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • pinch sea salt
  • 300 ml boiling water


Peel the butternut squash with a potato peeler. Cut in half widthways, then again lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then cut into approximately 2 cm chunks. Reserve the peel and trim for stock.

Heat the olive oil in a pan, sauté the onion until softened, add the garlic and all the dry spices and cook “out” for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, chillies, cinnamon stick, honey and water and bring to the boil.

Add the butternut squash, season with sea salt and black pepper and simmer for 30 minutes until the mixture has thickened and the squash is tender, adding more water if necessary. Stir in the coriander and adjust the seasoning.

While the sauce and butternut squash are cooking, place the couscous in a large bowl, sprinkle over chilli and sea salt. Pour the boiling water over the top and immediately cover with cling film. Leave for 2-3 minutes; remove film and fluff with a fork to loosen the couscous. Stir in the coriander.

Serve with butternut squash sauce sprinkled with roasted almonds and serve. But beware of the chillies!

Additonal notes

Recipe courtesy of chef and author Maria Elia. This recipe is taken from Maria Elia’s book The Modern Vegetarian, published by Kyle Books. Photograph by Jonathan Gregson.

“Here is my version of the amazing tagines I’ve had in Morocco. You can, of course, use any other variety of squash available or substitute carrots, turnips or courgettes. (The cooking times will vary slightly for each.)”

See Maria Elia making this recipe in her Meat Free Monday School Cookery Workshop.


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