Moroccan Style Sweet Potato Stew

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Just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it has to be boring. While this Moroccan-inspired stew is not an authentic dish, it is flavorful and satisfying enough even for meat-eaters. I came up with this recipe about 25 years ago when I was looking for something to make for Sukkot and at the time, my son did not eat meat. The ingredients probably developed based on what I had around at the time. Feel free to play with the ingredients, including the spices. Just remember to keep the essential balance of flavors and textures. When I originally made this, I did not use any hot pepper or spicy curry powder since most young children are not into “heat.” This time I made it with a little but not overwhelming heat since I never like things so hot that I can’t taste any of the other flavors.

I usually served this over steamed millet, rice or couscous, but this time I am experimenting. I have been watching all of these cooking shows that use cauliflower to replace a starch. Now I personally love starches, but I was intrigued. So when I went to the grocery store and saw this gorgeous cauliflower on sale, I bought one. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but today was the day that I needed to do something. It was taking up way too much space in my fridge and I wanted to use it before it developed those yucky black spots. I roasted the florets at 425 degrees F. for 20 minutes after drizzling them with a little EVOO and then I pulsed them in my food processor along with some Kosher salt, one teaspoon of minced garlic and a sprinkling of Aleppo Red Pepper (more on the pepper later!). I pulsed until the cauliflower resembled rice – sort of. This will be the base under my stew. No one will be fooled into thinking it is rice, but it added a nice layer of texture. I don’t think I would especially race to make it again, but it is worth giving it a try.

Don’t be put off by the relatively long list of ingredients. The actual assemblage is fast and easy. For serving, I might serve a nice hard cider or a crisp white wine. I would round out the meal with some eggplant dip and hummus and pita especially if I am serving it to guests or Matthew and Frances are here.

Moroccan Style Sweet Potato Stew   

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

1 Tablespoon EVOO

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon each: curry powder (I used a hot Madras powder this time), ground cumin, Kosher salt

Rounded 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Aleppo Pepper or other red pepper (optional)

1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1/4 inch rounds and then quartered

1 small butternut squash (or a second sweet potato), peeled, seeded and cut like sweet potato

1 large sweet red, yellow or orange pepper, cut into large dice

2 Japanese eggplants, cut into large cubes (You can use a regular eggplant, but you will have to worry about seeds)

15 ounce can, drained chickpeas (save the aquafaba if you want to make meringue)

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into large dice

1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes with liquid

1/2 cup of raisins

About 2 cups of vegetable broth

6 ounces of apple or pineapple juice

Lightly toasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. In a 4 to 5 quart Dutch Oven, saute the onions and garlic in the EVOO until softened. Stir in all of the spices and add enough of the juice to moisten everything and to prevent scorching. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add all of the other ingredients, including the remaining juice and stir through. Bring to a boil. Then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 35 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender. This can be made earlier in the day and gently rewarmed or even made a day ahead, refrigerated and rewarmed.
  3. When ready to serve, place a generous portion of the stew over your starch (or cauliflower) of choice and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of pumpkin oil. IMG_1326

NOTE: I’m a bit like a magpie when it comes to spices and kitchen gadgets. I get seduced by shiny new objects and as long as they are within a certain price range, I will often indulge myself. I was searching for some particular spices online to make my Yemenite Chicken Soup and received a pop-up that said “people who bought this, also bought Aleppo Pepper.” Well how could I resist, especially when it was described as:

  • Aleppo pepper has perfectly balanced heat and amazing flavor, sweet and rich and almost smoky.This Turkish crushed chili has an ancho-like flavor with a little more heat and tartness.

While it is not essential to this dish, it is really wonderful stuff and I have since been using it everywhere – in pasta, eggs, soup and this stew.

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