Moroccan Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew

bnut squash and chickpea stew enhanced

My obsession with pumpkin necessarily extends to butternut squash as well. I mentioned in a previous post that they continue to be $1.50 at Trader Joe’s, so I always buy the biggest one they have. They freeze very well, so in just a few minutes you can have the centerpiece to a meal prepped and ready to go.

Ever since visiting Morocco in 2007 I have become completely enamored with the flavors of North African cooking–cumin, cinnamon, lots of turmeric, and a bit of sweet & spicy. This recipe combines all of my great food loves, is easy and incredibly flavorful. It can easily be made vegan, too, if you use water instead of chicken broth like the original recipe (from The Perfect Pantry, my absolute favorite site for all Middle Eastern/North African recipes).

Harissa is a smoky, spicy red chili paste that is ubiquitous in North African cooking. If you don’t have harissa, you could sub sriracha, chili paste, or tomato paste with some cayenne or red pepper flakes. However, harissa is becoming much easier to find. Most Whole Foods carry it in cans or in the refrigerated section. I buy it in tubes from Amazon.com and it lasts a long time. (Update: my friends know how much I love the stuff and one even brought be back two tubes from Switzerland, where it is apparently readily available. Mis amigos son los mejores.) It packs so much punch in a small serving that it’s a real workhorse. I recommend adding it to your spice cabinet, you won’t regret it.

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp harissa (or more, to taste)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups canned diced tomatoes (juice from the can is OK, no need to drain)
2 cups chicken broth, stock, vegetable stock, or water
1 15.5-oz can chickpeas (regular size), drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen petite green peas (easily omitted if they’re not on hand)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

Peel, chop and seed your butternut squash. I like to use a vegetable peeler but honestly sometimes you just have to use a knife and put up with the waste it generates. (Careful with these babies, though. Chopping one once sent me to the hospital for stitches!)

In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stock pot heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion until just starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning.

In a small bowl, combine the harissa, cinnamon and coriander. Add them all at once, stirring constantly for 30 seconds to toast the spices and relase their fragrances. Add the squash and tomatoes, stir to incorporate the spices, and add 2 cups of chicken broth. Throw in the raisins.

Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, green peas and parsley, and continue to cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve over whole wheat cous cous. Makes great leftovers, I think it’s even better the next day!

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Similar recipes:

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew (districtdinners.wordpress.com)
Butternut Squash Soup with Curry (districtdinners.wordpress.com)

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