Moroccan Squash & Chickpea Stew with Couscous

December 30, 2010

Aunt Suzy says . . .

The holidays have been filled with eating, eating, eating – mostly rich food!   Randy and I have decided it’s time for a primarily vegetarian diet over the next couple of weeks.  I decided to start with this Moroccan stew, which  I’ve had on my mind to make for a couple of months, ever since it was served at my book club.  (thanks to Ruth Charchian!) I’ve been looking for some new recipes that use preserved lemon and harissa and this one is delicious!  It’s a riff on one originally posted on Smitten Kitchen.  Orange-based Corfu Salad is a delightful complement to this flavorful stew, and a dry rose wine pairs perfectly!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 1/2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (about one small squash)
2 1/2 cups peeled and cubed red potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, including juice
Pinch saffron threads (optional)
1/2 preserved lemon peel, minced
1 cup brined green olives (I used green olives in herbs de Provence)
1-2 teaspoons harissa, to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Toasted sliced almonds
Couscous, cooked according to directions (I used whole wheat)

Heat olive oil in a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add onion, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon.  Cook, stirring, until spices are aromatic and onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add squash and potatoes, stir to coat and saute another couple of minutes. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes with juice and saffron, if using. Bring mixture to a bubble, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  The squash and potatoes should be easily pierced with a fork, but not mushy or falling apart.

Remove from heat and stir in preserved lemon, olives and harissa. Serve over the cooked couscous and garnish with the cilantro and almonds.

Cook’s Notes: If you do not have preserved lemon, add the juice of 1/2 lemon at the end instead.  If you do not have harissa, but want a little heat, you can use hot sauce to taste on individual portions.  I think this would be good with Kalamata or Moroccan oil-cured olives as an alternative to the green.  If using these, I would cut back on the amount.


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