Wow. I have been away for a while. I feel distant from my little blog space and from my kitchen. We’ve been slowly reconnecting since my time in Orange County; I’ve been sleepwalking through my house the last few days and enjoying my own food in a dream-like state. Ahhhhh…
Anyway, I’m back and I want to share this easy and fabulous Moroccan stew. I made it just before I left for my event in So Cal; I felt so comforted and joyful and delightfully global while eating it – I was transported from my deadlines and pile of work to food fantasy land. It is the FIRST thing I made when I got home. It is warm and beautifully spiced and fragrant and very healthy and extremely delicious. How can something be comforting and sensual and exotic all at once? This is how. This dish. I know I get very intense and dramatic about food, but please, make this and go there with me. It is so, so good.
I originally came across the inspiration for this dish on Gourmet’s website, but I’ve changed it so much that I’m just giving you my version below. The dish departs from the traditional couscous and is made with quinoa, which is actually an ancient Incan grain and is extremely nutritious. I love nutty and tender quinoa, which is what originally caught my eye; the warm addition of spices is what inspired me to try it immediately. You can be very flexible with this – adjusting, eliminating or adding spices to your liking; all of my measurements are estimates since I tend to just spoon and pinch into the pot. If you want to go vegetarian, add chick peas instead of chicken. The first time I made it without the dried prunes and it was savory and spicy tomato-y goodness. The second time I added the prunes which gave the dish a sweeter dimension. I liked both ways so much that I think I’ll keep switching it up. This could serve two to four depending on the amount of quinoa you prepare – I made enough “stew” for four and quinoa for two – we just ate extra veggies and sauce.
Soft and nutty quinoa, toasted almonds, tender chicken, sweet carrots and earthy turnips, warmly spiced sauce, bright and green little onions or parsley – all so tasty and so good for you, too! I’m in love with this dish – I will make this over and over again.
Sit down at the table and inhale the lovely fragrance of the spices – take time and enjoy the flavor in every bite – imagine that you are wandering the narrow aisles of a souk in Morocco with the intense aromas of steaming tagines, the colors of the market and the sounds of music and humanity joyfully confronting your senses.
warm moroccan stew
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- a handful of slivered almonds, toasted
- one red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- one tbsp of tomato paste
- one heaping tsp of paprika
- one half to one tsp of cumin
- half tsp of dried ginger
- one half to one tsp of cinnamon
- one half to one tsp of corriander
- pinch of clove
- pinch of red pepper flakes (use aleppo if you have it)
- two cups of low sodium chicken broth
- one skinless, boneless chicken breast or a half pound of skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into one inch cubes
- two to three carrots, sliced about a quarter of an inch thick on the diagonal
- one large turnip, peeled and cut into eight wedges
- two thirds of a cup of pitted, dried prunes, halved
- salt and pepper, to taste
- quinoa (or other grains such as bulghur or rice if you don’t have quinoa – but I suggest you get some and keep it as a pantry staple)
- a couple of fresh green onions or fresh flat leaved parsley for garnish
- heat oven to 350 degrees and toast almonds for about 5 minutes or until fragrant – remove from oven and set aside
- meanwhile, prepare quinoa or grains according to package instructions, typically two cups of water to one cup of grains, simmered or steamed for added fluffiness
- heat olive oil in a larger saucepan over medium high heat, add onions and saute with some salt and pepper until soft, about six to eight minutes
- add the tomato paste and cook for about one minute more, stirring well to combine
- add your spices and cook for about one minute more, adding a little chicken broth if things are getting too brown
- add the veggies, chicken, prunes (if using) and broth and cook, covered for about 15 to 20 minutes
- ladle the stew over the quinoa and top with the toasted almonds and fresh green onions or parsley – serve with some harissa paste if you want a lot of heat and spice
I always freeze tablespoons of tomato paste in separate bags so that the entire can doesn’t go to waste after one use