Moroccan vegetable stew is a classic dish that looks as enticing as it tastes. A cumin-scented feast of pumpkin or butternut squash, potatoes, carrots, and chickpeas, it’s cushioned with a bed of couscous for a comforting cool-weather meal.
The original recipe for this aromatic stew isn’t always vegan (though sometimes it is), but it’s easy to make it plant-based by simply eliminating the unwanted ingredient! Optional lentils lend an extra dose of protein; this stew is good with or without them.
Couscous and swap-ins: If a recipe (like this one) simply calls for “couscous,” you can safely assume this means the fine, golden granule, readily available in almost all supermarkets and natural foods stores.
Couscous is made from semolina, the same type of wheat that goes into making pasta. It cooks up very quickly — it needs to be soaked in boiled water for not more than 10 minutes, then fluffed up. Learn lots more in this site’s Guide to Couscous.
For a gluten-free option, or for a change of pace, you can replace the couscous with quinoa, or any other grain you prefer.
More Moroccan-inspired recipes to explore:
- Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Stew (Harira)
- Vegan Moroccan-Style “Chicken” Stew
- Moroccan Carrots
- Moroccan-Inspired Tofu with Apricots, Almonds, & Olives
Recipe adapted from Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
Complete the meal: Though from another part of the world, I think Fattoush salad (tomatoes, greens, onions, cucumbers, radishes, and crisped pita bread) is a perfect side by side dish.
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup raw couscous, preferably whole-grain
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 1/2 cup brown or green lentils, optional
- 4 cups heaping cups sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks (see Note), or 16-ounce package precut butternut squash dice
- 2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons harissa, optional (see note), for a spicier stew
- 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley, to taste
- Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Cover once again and set aside until needed.
- Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat until golden.
- Add the potatoes, pumpkin or squash, carrots, tomatoes, cumin, and turmeric. Add enough water to cover all but about 1/2 inch of the vegetables. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. The consistency should be stew-like, but if you need to loosen it a bit, add up to 1 cup additional water.
- Stir in the chickpeas, then season with salt and pepper. Simmer over very low heat for 5 to 10 minutes longer.
- To serve the stew, place a small amount of the couscous in each soup bowl, then ladle some stew over or beside it and sprinkle with parsley. Serve at once.
I find that partially baking or briefly microwaving sugar pumpkin or squash makes it much easier to peel and dice. In this case, a very small pumpkin or squash would more than suffice, and microwaving for about 4 to 5 minutes would do the trick. Make sure the pumpkin or squash is cool enough before handling.
If you’re looking for a great shortcut, use a 16-ounce package of precut butternut squash dice, which you’ll find seasonally in the produce section of well-stocked supermarkets.
Harissa, a characteristic North African seasoning, is a paste made of chili peppers.
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Explore lots more vegan soups & stews.