Pic of Fennel, potato and olive tagine with preserved lemon and spiced couscous

Fennel, potato and olive tagine with preserved lemon and spiced couscous

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Vegetarian mains

Fennel, potato and olive tagine with preserved lemon and spiced couscous

Main Serves 2 55 min
Most of the seasoning for this dish comes from the olives and the preserved lemons. The lemons are packed in salt and this transforms their taste and texture. Oddly it is the skin that becomes the usable part. The pulpy insides are scraped out and discarded. They have a salty-sour taste that we rarely find in the English kitchen, but is a staple flavour in Moroccan cuisine.

Cook's notes

Mixing the couscous grains with oil before cooking helps to keep them separate and fluffy later on.


  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • oil for frying e.g sunflower or light olive oil
  • 1 large potato
  • piece preserved lemon
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 30g fresh coriander
  • 1 tagine spice pot, containing:
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch saffron
  • 60g pitted green olives
  • 150g wholemeal couscous
  • 1 tsp ras al hanout
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Image of Fennel, potato and olive tagine with preserved lemon and spiced couscous


Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time: 40 min
  • Step 1

    Prepare the veg by peeling and slicing the onion. Peel and finely chop the 2 garlic cloves. Wash and slice the celery. Wash the fresh coriander and shake dry. Trim away the stalk tops from the fennel bulbs.
  • Step 2

    Cut each bulb into 12 wedges and cut away the worst of the solid root core, leaving enough so as the wedges are still held together. Wash and peel the potato, cut into 2cm cubes. Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Put a kettle on to boil.
  • Step 3

    Warm some oil in the pan and fry the onions and celery for 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add the fennel and a good pinch of salt. Cook for a further 5 minutes, turning up the heat and allowing it to take on some colour.
  • Step 4

    While the onions and fennel cook, tip 400ml of boiling water into the measuring jug and crumble in the stock cube. Stir until dissolved. Remove the seeds and pulp from the piece of lemon with a spoon, discard. Slice the skin into thin strips.
  • Step 5

    Chop the coriander stalks roughly, keep the leaves for later. Add the chopped coriander stalks to the pan with the sliced lemon skin, garlic, potato, olives and the tagine spice pot. Fry lightly for 2 more minutes to release the fragrance from the spices.
  • Step 6

    Tip over the stock and bring up to a simmer. Give it a good stir and scrape to release any sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover with the lid. Pop in the oven for 35 minutes.
  • Step 7

    Meanwhile put the couscous in a bowl and re-boil the kettle. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a good pinch of salt and the ras al hanout. Mix well so the oil coats the grains. Pour over enough boiled water to just cover the couscous.
  • Step 8

    Cover with clingfilm and leave to stand. Remove the tagine from the oven. Everything should be cooked but holding its shape. Taste the liquid, adding more salt and a few turns of pepper if you think it needs it. If it needs longer, cook uncovered on the hob until cooked through.
  • Step 9

    Fluff the couscous up with a fork. Roughly chop the coriander leaves. Stir the chopped coriander into the tagine and serve with the couscous.

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