The natural juices from the lamb and onion create steam that bastes the meat as it cooks over a low flame. The gentle heat ensures that the environment inside the tagine remains moist and does not dry out or burn. Savory lamb, salty olives, and ras el hanout (a North African spice blend of coriander, cumin, and warming spices) are balanced by sweet butternut squash, apricots, and a touch of honey.

Mary-Frances Heck
Paige Grandjean
March 2020


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary test

25 mins
4 hrs 35 mins
4 to 6


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Toss lamb with 11/2 tablespoons ras el hanout and 21/2 teaspoons salt in a medium bowl until evenly coated. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, or cover and chill up to 2 days.

  • Grate 1 onion half on largest holes of a box grater; set aside remaining half. Place grated onion in a clean dish towel or piece of cheesecloth, and squeeze over sink to remove as much liquid as possible. Stir together lamb and grated onion in base of a 2-quart tagine. Cover and cook on a gas stovetop or a diffuser over an electric range over very low until lamb is cooked through but not yet tender and juices are pooling in tagine, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

  • Thinly slice remaining onion half. Add sliced onion to tagine; stir to combine. Cover and continue cooking on stovetop until lamb is tender, about 1 hour.

  • Preheat oven to 300°F with oven rack in upper third of oven. Toss together butternut squash, honey, remaining 2 teaspoons ras el hanout, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add butternut squash mixture and apricots to tagine; stir to combine, making sure apricots are submerged in pan juices. Transfer tagine, uncovered, to upper third of preheated oven. Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until squash is tender, about 30 minutes.

  • Remove tagine from oven, and sprinkle with olives, pine nuts, and cilantro. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Garnish with mint leaves, and serve with couscous.

Suggested Pairing

Darkly fruity, herbal Sardinian red.