Moroccan Stew with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas

Despite never having been to Morocco (something I hope to remedy soon!), I love Moroccan food. This stew is warming and hearty on a cold winter day.  Funnily enough, yesterday’s New York Times just featured a similar stew as well, so apparently, I’m not the only one who craves Moroccan food on a cold day.

This vegan stew is wonderful when you want to enjoy complex flavors—but also need something  quick and easy to prepare – my cooking mantra! Often I find that recipes for Moroccan food—at least the ones I have found online—overdo the sweetness, which comes from cinnamon, and often apricots and/or raisins as well, while foregoing other spices.  I prefer the stew to be more balanced, with the sweetness from the cinnamon and apricots balanced against the spicy harissa and red chillies.  However, since this is a one-pot meal, which simmers for a while, only gaining in flavor as it does, feel free to adjust to your own tastes. I love this served with some couscous or quinoa, but it is also perfectly good with any other grains or rice.

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To cook couscous: take 1 cup of couscous (serves 2) and pour 2 cups of boiling water over it. Cover and leave for 15 minutes. Fluff the grains with a fork and serve.

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Prep. time: 40 minutes

Serves: 2 (with leftovers)

Ingredients

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic

1″ knob ginger

1 stick cinnamon

2 cardamom pods

4 cloves

1-2 dried red chillies

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. harissa

1 tbsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. coriander powder

1 tsp. turmeric powder

6 dried apricots, chopped

3 cups warm water

1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans or half a cup of dried chickpeas soaked overnight (with draining liquid)

16 oz. butternut squash

1/2 preserved lemon (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Handful coriander leaves for garnish

  1. Heat olive oil in a deep pan on medium heat.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the dried red chilli, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom pods.
  3. Once you can smell the aroma of the spices, add the onion and garlic along with a pinch of salt.  Saute for 2-3 minutes, until the onions have softened.  If the pot gets too dry, add a sprinkling of water.
  4. Add the spices: the cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric, and harissa.  Saute for another minute, making sure that the spices do not burn (again, add a bit of water if necessary).
  5. Add three cups of warm water and bring to a gentle simmer.
  6. Add the squash and let simmer until cooked, about 15 minutes.  Grate your knob of ginger directly into the pot.
  7. Once the squash is cooked, add your chickpeas and the draining liquid into the pot.  Add the apricots. 
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Adjust spices if necessary.
  9. Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Add your preserved lemon, if you like.
  10. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.

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