Tagine of Lamb and Zucchini; melancholy cleaning

When we were in Marrakesh 3 years ago we took a cooking class.

The class was a lot of fun and it was fascinating to see the proper way to make the food I had been experimenting with at home,

Not only was the food delicious, the presentation was an art form.

I had one long, straight, light green summer squash left in the garden, the weather was getting cooler, and I was remembering the beautiful tagines with the large vegetables circling the lamb.

Mine didn’t turn out quite that way….

To be fair, I had the same size tagine but was making the dish for two, not 12 so the proportions are a bit different.

The taste, however, was spot on!

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Tagine of Lamb and Zucchini

A tagine is both the name of the cooking vessel and the name of the dish that is cooked in it. A skillet with a tight-fitting lid would work as well – especially if the lid is rounded or domed.

  • Author: Katie Zeller
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x


  • 14oz (400gr) lamb shoulder or leg, cut into pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, seeds removed,  cut into large sticks
  • 1`medium onion, vertically sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp za’atar
  • 4 tbs parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup (8oz, 240gr) tomatoes, peeled, chopped, with juices
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken stock
  • 1 tbs maizena (cornstarch, corn flour) dissolved  in 2 tbs water, if needed


  • Heat oil in a tagine or heavy pot with tight-fitting lid.
  • Add lamb and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate. 
  • Add the onion, garlic, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add ginger, paprika, cumin, and stir-fry briefly.
  • Return the lamb to the pan, add zucchini, tomatoes, juices, stock, za’atar, cover, turn heat to low and braise for 25 minutes.
  • Add cornstarch mixture if desired, stirring until thickened. You may not need all of it.
  • Stir in parsley and serve.


You could substitute other vegetables for the zucchini – but either size or cooking times would need to be adjusted as zucchini cooks quite quickly.

Keywords: lamb, zucchini, tagine

Lamb and Zucchini Tagine

I’ve been cleaning.

I hate cleaning but even I acknowledge that it needs to be done periodically.

This time was the semi-major ‘fall cleaning’ (as opposed to the major spring cleaning).

I also find cleaning to be somewhat bittersweet.

Well, not the toilets and oven and dog dishes and such….

It’s the dusting that usually makes me melancholy.

When my siblings and I first left the nest and found places of our own, birthday and Christmas gifts were ‘something for the house’. Initially they were useful things but, as we got older and more established, the gifts were more decorative: vases, figurines, ornaments and such.

As I’m dusting each one, the memory of who gave it to me and for what occasion comes flooding back.

Then my mother decided, unilaterally, that we all had too much stuff.

We started getting cook books.

Not big fancy cook books but small, interesting cook books.

Everyone in my family has a copy of the Cooky Book. My mother probably got hers in the early ’60’s. I have to laugh when I see a fresh, young baker waxing poetically about some ‘new cookie’ that my mother was making 50 years ago (Chocolate Crinkles come to mind….)

Her favorites to buy and give were the church cook books produced by many of the local congregations, as well as the village ‘home-makers’ groups.

The recipes were all contributed by the ‘ladies of the church’, the books were usually typed locally, and put in the plastic spiral binders.

As you can tell, the blue ‘Country Cook Book’ has gotten a lot of use…. It’s where I get my favorite sweet (tea) bread recipes.

My mother would normally buy 4 of the books: one each for herself, her sister, my sister and me.

And yes, discussions would ensue about the various recipes….

I mean, who can resist Ritz Cracker Pie or Confetti Sandwich Spread (hint: it contains ‘1 can Spam’) or Hot Dish?

Okay… I’ll stop making fun. I admit I am not making many of the recipes, but I do enjoy reading them and getting a look into how people cooked in the past and what they considered their best recipes.

I also find it interesting to see how the women identified themselves. Most of them are listed as ‘Mrs. John Smith’. Occasionally there will be a young, forward thinking rebel that lists herself as ‘Mary Smith’, but there aren’t very many of them.

My mother had 2 recipes in her local group book (the white one, top left): Red Devil’s Food Cake (that’s what red velvet cake was originally called) and, my personal favorite, Rhubarb Wine.

There gone now, my mother, aunt and sister…. but I still have the books and the memories.

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