in october of 2008 i had the amazing opportunity to travel to tétouan and chef-chaouén, morocco. no, i didn’t get to say “here’s looking at you, kid” to a gorgeous woman on a casablancan airport runway. no, i didn’t ride a camel through the desert. but hey! i still did spend a weekend in morocco!
having already lived in southern spain for a few months, i had grown used to the heavy influences from northern africa. the moorish style of architecture was no longer something that i marveled and gawked at, it had become a part of my everyday life. of course it was still just as amazing to have the opportunity to go to africa and see another country, and well, continent, but it was not quite what i was expecting. in my mind, i was envisioning the picture of stereotypical africa. safari. vast plains. elephants. lions. if this is what you are expecting, you better get the hell out of morocco and head down to kenya!
i’m not quite sure what it is, but over the past few weeks i have become increasingly more nostalgic for my time in europe. this entire fall i have been able to think about nothing but the parco sempione in milan. why? because of the smell. and the falling leaves. “wait a second, tommy,” you may ask, “doesn’t chicago autumns have falling leaves? and a distinct smell?” why yes, yes it does. but after spending an entire fall afternoon in the park with friends, i now associated fall with the parco sempione.
this has brought on an intense urge to cook more and more ethnic and foreign dishes. all i want to do is cook food from places that i have visited! so, this past weekend while i was looking through pictures from my weekend in morocco, i remembered that i had a moroccan recipe written down somewhere. now, i am not sure that it is 100% authentic, in fact, i’m pretty sure it’s not, but it is very reminiscent of the meals that i ate while in tétouan and chef-chaouén.
when i told friends at work about the meal that i was making, they instinctually said that the recipe definitely sounded like it was something that they would not make. perhaps it is simply the fear of the unfamiliar, which i can completely understand. but i insist that you step outside of your comfort zone, especially when it comes to food! there are so much amazing cuisines out there in the world to discover and experience, and i hope you will take the time to give this dish a try!
until next time…happy eating!
quinoa with moroccan winter squash and carrot stew
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch of saffron
1 cup water
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups 1/inch cubes peeled butternut squash (from 1.5 pound squash)
2 cups 3/4-inch cubes peeled carrots
1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint, divided
- heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
- add onion; sauté until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
- add garlic, stir 1 minute.
- mix in paprika and next 8 ingredients.
- add 1 cup water, tomatoes, and lemon juice. bring to boil.
- add squash and carrots. cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
- season with salt and pepper.
- rinse quinoa, drain.
- melt butter with oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
- add onion and carrot. cover; cook until vegetables begin to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
- add garlic, salt, and turmeric; sauté 1 minute.
- add quinoa; stir 1 minute.
- add 2 cups water. bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. cover; simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.
- stir in half of cilantro and half of mint into warm stew.
- spoon quinoa onto plate, forming a well in the center.
- spoon stew into well.
- sprinkle remaining herbs over.