Moroccan Vegetable Stew
I am still in “travel” mode, getting ready for our upcoming trip to Europe, leaving next week. As I mentioned we will be in Paris first, then in Spain for a couple of months. I have never been to Spain and looking forward to explore this country’s culinary scene, history and culture. Through my blogger friend Val of More than Burnt Toast I connected with a Barcelona blogger Nuria Farregut of Spanish Recipes by Nuria who provided me with wonderful and useful information about Barcelona’s food scene and even offered to take me around to La Boqueria market. Food bloggers can be a fun virtual community, it’s like having friends all over the world. I find that bloggers are friendly and offer information and assistance if you ask. That’s how I met Val and Laura, two Kelowna food and travel bloggers who are now my friends.
While in the south of Spain we are only a stone throw away from Morocco and plan to travel there as well. You can take a ferry across from Marbella even for a day trip, hence the recipe I am posting today. I thought I’d start cooking a few mediterranean dishes to prepare our palates for the new flavours and aromas we will experience on our stay overseas. Exotic flavours combine in this quick stew-like dish transporting your palate to a far away continent. Moroccan cuisine includes a wide range of spices, from cinnamon and cumin to saffron and turmeric. Many more of course, and with judicial use they lend an aromatic element to their wonderful dishes. Moroccan food also includes dried fruits in savoury dishes (prunes, apricots, raisins) creating an intricate range of flavours we don’t commonly find in other cuisines. Fresh herbs like mint, coriander, parsley and garlic are also an integral part of Moroccan cooking and find their way to many of the dishes. Harissa and Ras el Hanut are two of the more widely known spice blends that flavour many of the Moroccan dishes we encounter in Moroccan cuisine.
Moroccan food is often slow cooked or simmered to perfection in a tagine or other earthenware cookware. (Tagine is a cone shaped earthenware dish, see image below). It is often served alongside a dish of couscous, a semolina grain that is cooked liked rice and serves a base for many of the Moroccan tagines.
Since I cook a lot with vegetables, I have a fairly wide repertoire of vegetables dishes that I make frequently. In the summer its quick steaming, grilling, or a quick sautée of just picked veggies. In the fall and winter I gravitate towards slow cooking dishes, oven roasted vegetables, soups and stews. This is definitely a fall dish, good to make when you want something warm and satisfying. This dish cooks rather quickly, surprising but true, so don’t leave it unchecked for too long.
I cooked this in a French made Le Creuset enamelled cast iron pot, a nod to the French made cookware and the artisans that hand inspect each piece. Le Creuset originates from Fresnoy, France, where it was first launched in 1925. They make their cookware in the same method they did when they started. Each cookware is cast in its own sand mold, each broken after casting, creating a unique product every time. After casting, the production is hand finished by French artisans by adding multiple layers of chip resistance enamel that makes the cookware strong, non-reactive and durable for cooking. Apparently these artisans come from families who have worked with the company since it was launched. If you don’t have any Le Creuset cookware I strongly urge you to begin acquiring a few pieces. The line includes enamelled cast iron, cast iron, stoneware, forged hard anodized and even stainless steel, but what they are really known for is their enamelled cast iron that keeps the moisture in the food. Nothing seems to burn in these pots and they are ideal for one pot cooking. They come in a wide range of colours which is fun, although I tend to stick with black or white. I wouldn’t be without a few of these cookware pieces in different sizes. Having said that, if you don’t have a Le Creuset, cook in another pot or casserole and you will be just fine, but you know what to put on your Christmas wish list. You can thank me later.
So here is my recipe for a simple vegetarian meal you can make in one pot with the exotic flavours of morocco.
A votre santé.
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
A few hot red pepper flakes
3 medium potatoes, cut into quarters
1 large sweet potatoes, cut in large cubes
2 carrots, cut in 1 inch chunks
1 red or green pepper, cut in one inch squares
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cup garbanzo beans, canned or cooked
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Heat oil in a stew pot (I use enamelled cast iron by Le Creuset).
Add onion and cook until softened.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add spices and cook, stirring, until fragrant. If it seems too dry you can add a little water, a tablespoon or two.
Add vegetables, one at a time in the order given, cooking each vegetable for a little while before adding the next.
After you have added all of the vegetables add the water, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, raisins and the saffron and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until vegetables are done. Check the vegetables frequently so they do not overcook. You want them to be cooked through but no mushy. You will surprised how quickly this stew cooks, especially in the Le Creuset pot. This time it was cooked to my liking in about 45 minutes but I would suggest to check after 30 minutes and then every 15 minutes to see if it’s cooked through. Insert a knife into the potatoes to see how done they are.
When the vegetables are ready (insert a knife into the larger pieces) adjust seasoning, sprinkle with chopped parsley and walnuts and serve warm.
This keeps nicely for a couple of days in the fridge. Reheat, covered in the oven or uncovered in the microwave.