Morocco, Portugal and Spain – three interesting and lovely countries filled with delicious foods, engaging people, and cultures. 

The focus of our writings, blogs, and my Power of 5 Test Kitchen Cookbooks is woven with healthy cooking and eating using Mediterranean cuisine as its foundation. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

Our trip to Morocco, Portugal and Spain not only included touring but also two cooking classes to learn about and prepare local dishes.

The first cooking class was in Fes, Morocco (northeast of Casablanca), where we learned to cook Vegetable Tagine and Vegetable Couscous. The dish is named after the cooking vessel – an earthenware pot. Tagine can be made with meats such as chicken, fish or lamb,  modified to one’s taste. Vegetables included are carrots, squash, other root vegetables along with a wonderful mixture of herbs and spices, apricots for sweetness, and a dollop or two of a spiced yogurt. 

Our second wonderful food experience was on our first evening in Barcelona, Spain where we went on a food and wine tour with a wonderful guide, Mariela, who taught food appreciation and cooking classes at a local university. We essentially did a “pub crawl” through the old city experiencing delicious  wines and my favorite … Barcelona Sweet Red Vermouth … a flavorful blend of infused herbs and spices over ice, garnished with a green olive and slice of orange. We also enjoyed an easy and delicious Spanish Tomato Bread. 

Enjoy these recipes! I hope you will try them.

And the Power of 5 Test Kitchen, on location in the Mediterranean, will continue in my next food blog, so stay tuned. In the meantime, as they say in Spanish, Disfrutar (enjoy, take pleasure in!)

To Healthy Cooking and Eating!


Vegetable Tagine

A flavorful dish that is steamed in a tagine clay stoneware on the stovetop or in the oven.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 418 kcal


  • 1 Dutch oven or large soup pot **Tagine clay pottery, if you have one!😊


  • 1 medium Onion Peel and chop
  • 1/8 cup Olive Oil Extra virgin
  • 8 cloves Garlic Peeled and chopped OR 4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 large Carrot Peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 medium Potatoes (of your choice) Peeled and cubed. May use other root vegetables such as turnips or sweet potato.
  • 2 tsp Harissa spice Or more to taste
  • 1 tsp Ground coriander, optional Or more to taste
  • 1 tsp Ground cinnamon Or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Tumeric Or more to taste
  • 1 cup Whole peeled tomatoes Canned
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup Apricots or Raisins Chop apricots. If using raisins no need to cut. Add additional for added sweetness if you wish.
  • 1 quart Vegetable broth, low sodium
  • 1 cup Chickpeas Canned, well drained, rinsed with cold water
  • 1 juice Lemon Or 2-3 tbsp of fresh bottled lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Fresh parsley leaves Finely chopped


  • Using a tagine stoneware, prepare all ingredients. Layer the cleaned, sliced raw potatoes on the bottom, then the uncooked grain, then layer the sliced carrots and onions, add chopped apricots or raisins on top, layering like a tent design.
  • Pour vegetable broth over the vegetables.
  • Season with all the Moroccan spices
  • Cover the tagine and cook on a gas stovetop or in the oven on a covered sheet pan until done – 300℉ for 2⅐-3hrs.
  • No tagine? No problem. It will still be delicious! Use a large stovetop pan and following instructions below.
  • In a large skillet, add the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the cut onions and sauté for 5 minutes, turning the onion frequently.
  • Add minced garlic and all the chopped veggies.
  • Add the Moroccan spices and salt. Toss to combine.
  • Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on medium-high heat, mixing frequently until it smells fragrant.
  • Add tomatoes, apricots (or raisins) and broth.
  • Continue to cook for 10 minutes on medium-high heat. Then reduce heat, cover and simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes or until veggies are tender.
  • Stir in chickpeas and cook another 5 minutes on low heat.
  • Stir in lemon juice and fresh parsley. Taste and adjust spices and salt to taste.
  • Serve in separate bowls or a large serving dish.
  • Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil, if desired.
  • Serve hot with your quinoa, couscous, rice, or crusty baked bread.


Melissa’s Modifications
A tagine dish is very adaptable to tastes and eating preferences. You may add chicken, lamb or fish. If you have a tagine clay pottery cooking vessel that is large enough to cook on the stovetop or oven — that’s great. I have an induction cooktop, therefore I had to adapt my tagine vessel to accommodate the lack of an induction magnet in my dish using the stovetop. I could have just as easily baked this in the oven (trial and error in my test kitchen)! 
You could also make this dish in a Dutch Oven or large pot and then use the tagine as a beautiful serving dish. If you are cooking a meat of some sort in your oven, it will require 2.5 to 3 hours at 300 or 150°C.
I love the slow steaming of the perfectly cooked vegetables in the tagine … they melt in your mouth. 


Serving: 4Calories: 418kcalCarbohydrates: 75.5gProtein: 15.1gFat: 10.3gSaturated Fat: 1.3gSodium: 1786mgFiber: 12.3gSugar: 9.7g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Barcelona Red Vermouth Cocktail

A staple in Barcelona when you go out to small local tavernas that serve small snacks called Pintxos (like tapas) along with a variety of wines.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 1 Cocktail


  • 5 oz Spanish red vermouth
  • 2-3 Ice cubes
  • Splash Soda Optional
  • 1 Orange slice
  • 1 Green olive


  • Put a couple of ice cubes in a small glass and cover them with the red vermouth
  • Top with a splash of soda, if you desire
  • Garnish with an orange wedge and an olive
  • Salud!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Spanish Tomato Bread (Pan Con Tomate)

A perfect starter! One of our favorites made with just 5 ingredients! So fun – let the guests make their own!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Appetizers/Starters
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 10 Slices
Calories 110 kcal


  • 1 loaf Crusty bread, ciabatta, or similar hearty bread Sliced and toasted
  • 3 large, ripe Tomato Sliced crosswise into 2 halfs
  • 1-2 cloves Garlic Sliced in half
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt or kosher coarse salt


  • Turn on the broiler function of your oven and position a rack about 6 inches away from the heat coils.
  • Slice the bread loaf in half length-wise then in 2-inch slices. Brush the bread generously with extra virgin olive oil and arrange on a sheet pan. Toast in the heated oven about 6 inches from the broiler for 3 minutes or until the bread is lightly golden brown.
  • When the bread is ready, rub the garlic cloves over the hot bread.
  • Slice the tomato crosswise, and grate (rub) over the large holes of the garlic & oil bread. Discard the peels. Season with a bit of salt. Enjoy!


Melissa’s Modifications
Such a pure and delicious appetizer/starter! It makes a great participatory activity for company. Set up all the ingredients on the table and let your guests make their own appetizers!
Day old bread works great. The bread needs to have some support as you grate the tomato and garlic over it. 
Enjoy our wonderful food and wine guide Mariela, demonstrating how to make Tomato Bread.


Calories: 110kcalCarbohydrates: 22.6gProtein: 4.2gFat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.2gFiber: 0.9gSugar: 1g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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