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Tunisia tajine emphasizes ingredients
Unlike the Moroccan tajine, the Tunisian tajine is quite different. It is a mixture of both tortilla Española and the Italian frittata. Originally, the traditional Tunisian tajine uses liver and cannellini beans in addition to the fried vegetables, various spices, herbs and eggs and cheese.
This recipe relies mainly on the natural flavors of all the ingredients — like, for instance, the simplicity of the tortilla Española, that is composed of fried onions, potatoes and eggs.
What I tried to focus on is mainly frying the mixed vegetables without the use of spices or herbs and let the ingredients speak for themselves. The next step is to use fresh farm eggs, which makes the dish more vibrant with taste and color. Any meat, poultry or seafood can be used.
Of course, if you are adventurous enough, then use cow, sheep or chicken liver.
1⁄4 cup olive oil
4 ounce butter
1 medium size yellow onion, diced
3 Roma tomatoes diced
1 green bell pepper diced
2 medium size potatoes peeled and diced
1⁄2 cup parsley finely chopped
4 small artichoke hearts, marinated in lemon and water, boiled in water for 25 minutes and diced
1 large zucchini, Julienne and diced
4 fresh farm hard-boiled eggs
12 fresh farm eggs beaten well together
6 ounce French baguette or Focaccia cut in half inch pieces
1⁄2 pound grated aged Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
1⁄2 pound pork tenderloin, diced in small pieces and sautéed in olive and butter for 15 minutes. Add a bit of white wine if the meat gets dry. Cook until tender.
In a deep frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the onions and potatoes for five minutes on medium heat. Add the peppers and sauté for five minutes. Sprinkle salt and ground pepper. Add the tomatoes, artichokes, parsley and zucchini and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.
Transfer the vegetables to a large stainless bowl. Add the diced hard-boiled eggs, the bread, the egg mixture, the diced pork tenderloin and cheese and mix all the ingredients well together using a large wooden spoon.
Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.
Use a glass Pyrex baking pan measuring 9 by 13 inches. Slice the butter and put the slices on the bottom of the pan. Pour the whole mixture in the pan and spread the mixture evenly. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the bottom and top get lightly brown. Let it cool down for 10 minutes and serve warm. You can get six to eight servings with this recipe.
The best accompaniment is blanched asparagus, or any seasonal vegetables that will keep this dish on the light side. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and bon appetit.