I frequently get e-mails requesting a good dish to make for vegetarian guests. This is one of my favorites. So many vegetables and so many “meaty” ones go into this stew that my caveman husband did not think to utter his usual bon mot in these situations, namely, “Where’s the beef?” Indeed, this is a very satisfying stew flavored in the Moroccan style with “sweet spices” as well as cumin and ginger. The classic accompaniment would be couscous, Here in the twenty-first century a fast-cooking couscous–5 minutes!–is available in the supermarket. My favorite part of this dish is the garnish, the Tunisian chile paste called harissa. You can make your own using the recipe from the Sauces chapter of Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals (see below) or simply top the stew with your favorite hot sauce. It is this last touch that really completes the stew. Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano Couscous (page 41).
Makes 8 servings
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total preparation time: 35 minutes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger (use a microplane)
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
6 medium parsnips (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 large sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch
One 15 1/2-ounce can chopped tomatoes
One 14 or 14 1/2-ounce can vegetable broth
1 recipe Harissa (recipe follows)
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 small zucchini (12 to 14 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
One 5-ounce package rinsed baby spinach
1/2 cup golden raisins
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
Rinsed and dried chopped fresh cilantro or mint
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the ginger, cinnamon stick, cumin, and allspice and cook 2 minutes. Add the parsnips, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and broth; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the harissa. Add the chickpeas and zucchini to the stew; simmer 5 minutes longer. Add the spinach and raisins and simmer just until the spinach has wilted.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the cinnamon stick. Ladle the stew into bowls and top each portion with some of the harissa and cilantro.
Harissa: Combine one 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers in water, drained, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 teaspoons), 1 teaspoon cumin seed, 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed, 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a blender or food processor fitted with a chopping blade; puree until smooth. Add salt and some freshly milled black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 1 cup.