I came up with this recipe about 20+ years ago when my son went through a period of not eating any meat. I was looking for something that screamed “autumn” to me so I could serve it for the holiday of Sukkot, which we recently celebrated. If you do a lot of North African/Mediterranean and Indian cooking, as I do, then you will always have these seasonings on hand. The main ingredients can be varied to taste, substituting cauliflower for the eggplant for example. Just keep in mind textures, colors and cooking times for the different vegetables that you may use. And, of course, this can be doubled or tripled if desired. Left-overs are delicious but keep in mind that after a time some of the vegetables will get mushy with aggressive reheating. I usually serve this over cooked millet, couscous or rice but you can use any grain or bread that you prefer. My husband is not a big fan of very hot/spicy foods and neither was my son when he was little; however, if you do wish to add some heat to this otherwise well-seasoned dish, you have a few options. You can serve harissa on the side for diners to add their own level of heat individually or if you know that your crowd likes it hot, you can add some hot peppers along with the sweet bell pepper and/or add some cayenne pepper to the spice mix. There are no strict rules here.
Lisa’s Moroccan Style Sweet Potato Stew
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 Tablespoons EVOO or Canola oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into large dice
1 large red bell pepper, cut into large dice
1 long Japanese eggplant, cut into large dice
15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained (save the liquid for aquafaba!)
1 large Granny Smith or other tart apple, cut into large dice (no need to peel it)
14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with liquid
1/2 cup of raisins
15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
About 1.25 cups of vegetable broth
About 3 Tablespoons apple juice or cider
1 teaspoon each of turmeric and cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of curry powder, ground cumin, salt and either freshly cracked black pepper or Aleppo pepper (my preference)
1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and ground sumac
2 teaspoons of tamarind paste
Lightly toasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, pine nuts or almonds
Harissa (red or green)
- In a 4 quart heavy saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic until softened. Stir in the spices and add enough of the apple juice to keep the spices from sticking and burning. Stir for about 3 minutes or until the spices become fragrant.
- Add all of the vegetables except for the eggplant. Add the tomatoes, tamarind paste, apple, pumpkin puree, broth and raisins and stir through. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, add the eggplant, re-cover the pan and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender and cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over a cooked grain of your choice and with one or more of the optional garnishes.