The Recipes

Moroccan Squash Stew

Yep, kids, still on my veggie-heavy eating.  But, I am also still on my kick of experimenting with different spice blends and marinating.  If you want an even heartier meal, serve this with a cooked grain or rice.

Moroccan Squash Stew

Ingredients (makes enough for about three or four hearty meals):

- 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-in. pieces (remove the seeds)
- 1 leek, sliced
- 2 ribs of celery, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-in. pieces
- 1/4 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1/4 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 T. cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 T. sweet paprika
- 1/2 T. ground ginger
- 1/2 T. turmeric
- 1 piece of star anise
- 1 whole clove
- 1 T. black peppercorns
- 1/2 T. coriander seeds
- 1/2 T. fennel seeds
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 2-3 c. of vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 c. of crushed tomatoes
- 1 c. of red lentils, picked over to remove any rocks
- salt
- olive oil
- parsley, chopped for garnish
- a few sprigs of mint, chopped for garnish

Add the coriander, cumin seeds, fennel, and peppercorns to a dry skillet.  Toast the spices for 1-2 minutes; just long enough for them to become fragrant.  Transfer the spices to a spice grinder (for me, a coffee grinder dedicated to spices).  Mix the ground spices with the paprika, ground ginger and turmeric.  Set the mix aside.

Heat 1 T. of olive oil in a large dutch oven.  When you slice the leeks, make sure to rinse them afterwards.  Dirt tends to get caught in the leeks.  Add the leeks and celery to the oil, season with salt, and let them cook for five minutes.  Add the garlic and stir for another minute.  Add in the carrots, squash, and bell peppers.  Season again lightly with salt.  Let the vegetables soften for 2-3 minutes, then add in the spice mixture.  Let it cook for another couple of minutes.

Next, add in the tomatoes, stirring to combine, and then add the stock, star anise, clove, and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a simmer, then add in the lentils and cook for 25-30 minutes.  Fish out the cinnamon, star anise, and clove before serving.  Taste the dish and add a bit more salt if needed.  Top with the fresh herbs.