Moroccan Stew

Moroccan Stew

 Moroccan Stew is filling, hearty, and perfectly spiced with an array of warming spices. This dish is loaded with veggies, tender chickpeas, Israeli couscous, and a blend of fresh herbs. 

Pair this warming stew with a light and crunchy salad like this roasted veggie salad or Moroccan carrot salad.


Overhead view of Moroccan Stew.

Moroccan Stew

This stew is going to blow you away! It’s packed to the brim with nutritious ingredients, yet there is so much flavor and texture! This stew is naturally vegetarian (and easily made vegan), yet very filling.

Besides how filling veggies can be in bulk, there is a lot of plant-based protein in this stew which helps keep you satiated longer. So although there is no meat, thanks to the chickpeas and sweet peas (see “quick tip” below), there is plenty of protein. 

QUICK TIP

Peas are a surprising source of vegetable protein. In just 3/4 cup serving (100-calories), there is more protein in peas than in 1/4 cup of almonds or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. This innocent-looking veggie packs a filling four grams of protein into this Moroccan Stew.


Process shots: Brown onion and oil in oil; add squash and chickpeas; measure seasonings, tomato paste and add; add crushed tomatoes.

Prepping the Butternut Squash

Number 1 tip: Use a very sharp chef’s knife and a sturdy wooden cutting board.

  • Pick out good butternut squash. Look for butternut squash with a solid beige color and one that feels heavy for its size.
  • To prepare the squash for chopping, slice off the stems at both ends and then peel the entire squash. Slice the squash in half where the thinner end begins to widen around the middle.
  • Slice the thick end in half and with a sharp spoon, scoop out and remove the seeds. (You can roast the seeds too for a fun snack!)
  • Thinly slice the squash into 1/2-inch rounds.
  • Dice the squash rounds into even 1/2-inch cubes. The more even the pieces, the more evenly and quicker the squash will cook in this Moroccan Stew!
  • Here’s a great video tutorial on preparing the squash.

QUICK TIP

Alternatively, you can use pre-cut butternut squash as a great time saver. Typically bags of pre-chopped squash can be found in the refrigerated produce section of the grocery store.


Images of Israeli couscous.

Let’s talk couscous

Israeli couscous and regular couscous are made with similar ingredients, but regular couscous is much smaller. Israeli couscous pearls are bigger with a soft and chewy texture.

It’s important for this Moroccan Stew recipe to use Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous. Here’s exactly what I use (also pictured above). It’s important to get the larger balls of couscous to fit the cooking time and texture of this stew


Process shots: Add couscous to the pan; add stock and simmer; stir in peas, herbs and lemon juice; mix well and serve.

Serving suggestions

  • Fresh, finely chopped cilantro and thinly sliced fresh basil add a burst of freshness and citrusy flavor to Moroccan Stew.
  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice adds a hit of acid. The lemon zest adds an additional complementary flavor and intensifies existing flavors.
  •  A scoop of Greek yogurt on top adds some coolness, additional texture, and flavor to the stew. It also further increases the amount of protein. Sprinkle some turmeric on top of the yogurt if desired. As far as the yogurt addition, I love Greek Gods® plain yogurt.
  • If you’re feeling ambitious, whip up some bread to dip in and enjoy with the stew!


Image of a pan full of Moroccan Stew with a wooden spoon in it.

Moroccan Stew Tips

  • Seasoning. If the stew tastes flat, it may just need a pinch more of salt and/or pepper. Note that not all salts will season the same –you’ll need more or less depending on the salt used. (I use fine sea salt in this recipe.) Another way to amp up flavors is to increase the amount of lemon juice, lemon zest, or fresh herbs.
  • Cut the butternut squash into small, even pieces. Even-sized pieces will provide uniform cooking time. You don’t want some soft squash pieces and some hard ones.
  • Use fire-roasted tomatoes. By using a can of fire-roasted tomatoes we’re adding layers of flavor and a hint of smokiness. I love Muir Glen® or Cento® fire-roasted crushed tomatoes best (not sponsored).
  • Stir frequently. As the stew simmers, it’s important to take off the lid and stir it frequently. Otherwise, the couscous has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot and become mushy.

Moroccan Stew Customizations

  • Replace the peas. If you aren’t sure about sweet peas, stir in some baby spinach or baby kale at the end instead. It will take just a minute to wilt down these greens.
  • Replace the chickpeas. Use white (cannellini) beans instead; simply stir in with the peas. (Make sure to drain and rinse these beans first.)
  • Swap out the squash. Try peeled and chopped sweet potatoes instead! (Check out this roasted sweet potatoes recipe for picking out and cutting sweet potatoes.)
  • Vegetarian/vegan. This recipe is naturally vegetarian and easily made vegan by leaving out the Greek yogurt topping.
  • Dairy free. This recipe is naturally dairy free.
  • Spiciness. As with most recipes, taste and adjust the seasonings to your personal preference. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t remove the seasoning! As written, this stew has a bit of a kick. If you’d like less spice, I recommend leaving out the cayenne pepper and using McCormick® chili powder (the mildest chili powder I’ve found). For more spice, increase the amount of cayenne pepper and/or top individual bowls with red pepper flakes. Also, keep in mind that the seasonings will intensify as this Moroccan Stew cooks and even more as the leftovers sit.


View of Moroccan Stew with a scoop of Greek yogurt and cilantro on top.

More nutritious recipes

Moroccan Stew

Moroccan Stew is filling, hearty, and perfectly spiced with an array of warming spices. This dish is loaded with veggies, tender chickpeas, Israeli couscous, and a blend of fresh herbs. 


Moroccan Stew


Moroccan Stew is filling, hearty, and perfectly spiced with an array of warming spices. This dish is loaded with veggies, tender chickpeas, Israeli couscous, and a blend of fresh herbs. 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (measured when solid)
  • 1 cup (125g) finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic (~5-6 cloves)
  • 1 can (15.5; 439g) chickpeas (also called Garbanzos) drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups (1.3 pounds; 545g) butternut squash peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon EACH: ground cumin, ground chili powder (use McCormick for less heat)
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: ground turmeric, garam masala, fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon EACH: ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper (optional; leave out if you don’t want heat)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz.; 411g EACH) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (567g) Swanson’s vegetable stock
  • 1 cup (138g) Israeli couscous (See Note 1)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice + 1/2 teaspoon zest
  • 1/2 cup (9g) fresh cilantro (loosely measured)
  • 1 cup (127g) frozen sweet peas
  • Optional toppings: 2 and 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves or fresh mint, additional lemon wedges, additional cilantro, plain Greek yogurt

Instructions

  • ONION AND GARLIC: Heat the coconut oil in a large cast iron pot (nonstick will work as well, cook times are just longer since it doesn’t hold/generate heat as well) over medium-high heat. Once the coconut oil has melted, add the onion and garlic; cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion becomes softened.

  • CHICKPEAS AND SQUASH: Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas and the cubed squash (See Note 2). Cook, still over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 7-9 minutes or until becoming tender. Using the back of a wooden spoon, crush down some of the chickpeas slightly to release the starch. This will help thicken the stew and add a nice texture.

  • SEASONINGS: Add in the tomato paste and cumin, chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, salt, cinnamon, cayenne pepper (optional — leave out if sensitive to heat), and black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until spices are fragrant.

  • TOMATOES: Add in both cans of undrained crushed fire-roasted tomatoes. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

  • STOCK AND COUSCOUS: Add in the vegetable stock and couscous. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 15-22 minutes or until squash is crisp-tender (it should still have some bite to it, not be mushy!) and couscous is cooked through. Stir every 3-4 minutes to keep the couscous from sticking to the bottom. If the couscous isn’t cooking through or the squash is not softening, slightly increase the heat. If it’s heavily boiling, slightly decrease the heat.

  • FINISHING: Stir in the peas to warm through. Add in the lemon juice and zest (add slowly to preference, you may not want as much as the recipe indicates) and fresh herbs. Taste and season again with salt and pepper here, I add another 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Spoon stew into bowls and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt if desired.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Israeli couscous is also called pearled couscous; here’s what I use. It’s important to get the large balls of couscous to match the cooking time and texture of this stew. Israeli couscous and regular couscous are made with similar ingredients, but regular couscous is much smaller.
Note 2: It’s really important for cook time on this recipe that the squash is cut into small 1/2-inch cubes. If the squash pieces are too big it won’t cook in the correct amount of time.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 519kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Sodium: 690mg | Potassium: 1413mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 28034IU | Vitamin C: 90mg | Calcium: 186mg | Iron: 4mg

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