chocolate hippos

moroccan chickpea stew

So last week it was all warm and sunny and 50 degrees, so I gave you Moroccan Carrot Salad.  What a difference a week makes.  Temperatures are falling fast…and by weeks end we will have had several days where the thermometer doesn’t make it above freezing.

Freezing doesn’t mean I can’t keep dreaming about Morocco.  I’m just going to warm it up a notch.  If 50 degrees is salad weather, then 20 degrees is surely soup weather.

Why two back to back posts on Moroccan cuisine?  Purely coincidence.  But I do love the blending of savory and sweet that is characteristic of Moroccan cooking.  In this stew, I’ve used cumin and harissa paste for the savory, and cinnamon and dates for the sweet.

I know I’ve been promising a peek at my most recent trip to Mexico, and I promise, it is coming!  Pork tacos for the Super Bowl, perhaps?  But until then, I give you this:

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

This serves 4-6 as an entree.  This keeps well, just don’t add the spinach until ready to serve.  As always, I really prefer the texture and taste of freshly cooked beans.  Just soak overnight, drain, and boil until tender.  This actually tastes better the next day, as it gives the flavors a chance to meld.  Just cook to the point before adding the fresh spinach, and add the spinach when reheating.

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons cumin

2-4 teaspoons harissa paste (you can start with a little and add more at the end if you are a spice-cautious)

2 cups chopped plum tomatoes, or you can substitute 1 can (14.5 ounces) chopped tomatoes

5 cups chickpeas, or you can substitute 3 cans of rinsed and drained chickpeas

4 cups vegetable stock (you can use chicken stock if you don’t need to keep this recipe vegetarian)

4 dates, pitted and chopped

2 yams, scrubbed well and cut into 1 inch cubes

4 ounces fresh spinach (I cheat and buy the packaged, pre-washed organic spinach)

salt to taste

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In a large soup pot (love my Le Creuset for this!) sauté onions, carrots and garlic over medium flame until tender, about 5 minutes.  Lower heat and stir in cinnamon, cumin, and harissa.   Salt to taste (about a teaspoon or so of kosher salt).

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Add tomatoes, vegetable (or chicken) stock, chickpeas and dates.  Simmer with lid ajar over low flame for 20-30 minutes.  The dates will melt into the broth…yum.

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Add cubed sweet potatoes and simmer, covered, for another 30 minutes.

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If serving now, add spinach.  If serving later (or tomorrow), transfer to container and store in refrigerator.  Add spinach after reheating when ready to eat.

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Continue cooking, uncovered and stirring often, until spinach is wilted.  Don’t overcook!

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Ladle into bowls and serve.  I can’t guarantee it will transport you to Morocco, but it sure does warm you up on a cold winter day.

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