Friday, October 22, 2010

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Have you ever watched Ruth Reichl's Gourmet Adventures on PBS? What an awesome show. Ruth goes all over creation trying some very unusual and interesting foods in different locations. Back when I actually had a television and the time to watch it, her show was a regular on my Saturday morning must-see lineup - right after Rick, Lydia, and 1 hour of Mr.Kimball.

In one episode, Ruth traveled to Morocco and watched the locals make an assortment of traditional Moroccan dishes. The episode inspired me - the following weekend I made this stew. This was several months ago, when I had the energy and time to cook elaborate meals, when cooking was fun and exciting, and not the stressful chore that it is now.

Do I sound bitter? It's because I am and I'm just going to say it. I'm going to bitch and whine and complain because I can. It's something I've never really done on this blog because in the past, I've always been too worried about pleasing my readers and attracting new ones...I mean who wants to read a bitchy blog, right? So my motto has been to always show a happy face.

But I don't care anymore. If I can't complain on my blog, then I can't complain anywhere. So here goes: I'm sad. I don't like teaching. I hate being away from people that I love. It's Friday night and I'm sitting at home. Very few things excite me nowadays. I feel hopeless and helpless all the time. I feel like a weakling for feeling this way, but I can't help it. I cry at least 3 times a week and usually more than that. I'm not sure what I'm doing here. Have you had enough? Good, because I'm done, for now that is.

Well, except for the recipe part, which is below. Make this stew. It's amazingly good - I made it in April and I can still remember how good it was. I have 2 butternut squashes sitting in my quiet kitchen waiting to be turned into this stew. Pray for me that they're not sitting for too much longer.

A preserved lemon that went into the stew.
Stew ingredients in pot.

Finished stew.

Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew (adapted from Aida Mollenkamp)


* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
* 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 pound butternut squash, large dice
* 3/4 pound red potatoes, large dice
*1 bunch swiss chard, chopped (my addition)
* 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
* 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
* 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
* Pinch saffron threads, optional
* 1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
* 1 cup brined green olives
* Steamed couscous, for serving
* Fresh parlsey leaves, roughly chopped, for garnish
* Toasted slivered almonds, for garnish


Heat butter and olive oil in a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight fitting lid over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add onion, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spices are aromatic and onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add squash, potatoes, and swiss chard, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, stir to coat, and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes and their juices, and saffron, if using. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until squash is fork tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in preserved lemon and olives. Serve over couscous garnished with parsley and almonds.