Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Moroccan Spiced Root Vegetable Stew

When deciding on something to cook, I'll spend hours, occasionally days, perusing recipes (online and in *gasp* cookbooks), studying them, examining the spices, textures, techniques. In the end, I pick and choose what appeals to me - maybe add an ingredient or two - to create a dish that is truly my own.

Because of rainy winter weather - and plans to entertain several vegetarian friends - I decided that a root vegetable stew was in order. But not just any stew - it was Chanukah and I wanted a hint of far away lands... rich, earthy flavors ... curry, cumin ... Morocco.

So I went hunting for Moroccan Spiced Root Vegetable Stew. There are many many good recipes out there, and I took the best from each one and created something worth sharing. Here you go.

• Root vegetables (suggestions below, but you should choose your favorites)
1 turnip
1 rutabaga
2 sweet potatoes
4 large carrots
4 large parsnip
• 4 large shallots
• 1 large head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
• 1 onion
• 1 can diced tomatoes
• 1 can chick peas (drained and rinsed)
• zest and juice of one lemon
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1tbsp curry powder (plus dusting)
• 1 tbsp cumin (plus dusting)
• olive oil
• salt, pepper, chili flakes to taste

• 2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

• preheat the oven to 375
• peel the root vegetables, dice them into uniform bite-size pieces
• peel the shallots but do not chop
• separate the garlic cloves but do not peel
• toss with olive oil salt and pepper
• spread vegetables in ONE LAYER in a baking pan or cookie sheet
• dust with curry powder and cumin (just a SMALLL dusting)
• put in oven for about an hour
• turn vegetables and rotate pan at least twice during cooking

While root vegetables roast:
• Heat some olive oil in a large pot
• Slice the onion and put it in the pot with a pinch or two of salt
• Saute the onions until transluscent - about 20 minutes.
• Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, zest and juice of one lemon, vegetable broth, cinnamon stick, cumin and curry powder to the pot and simmer for a half hour. Add salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste.

• When the root vegetables are finished cooking (they should be brown and carmalized, fork tender but not mushy) take them out of the oven and add them to the pot with the liquid mixture.
• Cook on stovetop for another 10 minutes so flavors blend.

• Serve with couscous, crusty bread, or latkes.
• Offer cilantro to sprinkle on top (or do it yourself but not everyone likes cilantro)
• Remind guests to separate garlic from the skin and spread the creamy goodness onto bread.

Bonus Leftovers!
The stew is even better the next day, but if you'd like to do something special you can easily create individual pasti-like pastries by mounding spoonfuls of the stew into the center of squares of puff pastry dough, bringing the corners up, sealing them witha pinch at the top and throwing it all into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Talk about satisfying. And impressive.

Let me know if there is any confusing bits or if you have any questions about the recipe.