For a Tastier and Healthier After-School Meal, Make Yourself a Pot of Moroccan Stew  



While some students might know how to cook for themselves, many graduate high school unready to prepare food for themselves. Credit: Tribune News Service

For many young adults, the thought of venturing out into the adult world and becoming independent can be overwhelming. Responsibilities which have largely been left to those around us, such as the job of sustaining our bodies with healthy and balanced diets, will become our responsibility.  The simplest choices, such as deciding what to eat, can have the greatest impact on our physical and mental wellbeing.

It can be hard for young adults who are new to cooking to find a recipe that is both healthy, tasty, and not overly time-consuming to make, which is why my Aunt Kitty’s Moroccan Stew is the perfect breakfast, lunch, and dinner option for graduating seniors and young adults. Aunt Kitty’s Moroccan Stew demands very little from its cook. This stew can be made by someone who has limited time, cooking knowledge, kitchen tools, and ingredients.

In my family, Moroccan Stew is a beloved family recipe and one of my personal favorite meals. It is made with a variety of vegetables, grains, and starches, all enhanced with a spice and aromatic mixture that gives this dish its signature aroma and flavor. Ladled over a grain or pasta of your choice, the three main components of this dish, vegetables, spices, and grains, contribute to its substantiality and simplicity.  It is a healthy and effective meal for high school seniors who are about to become independent.

Furthermore, Moroccan Stew satisfies any flavor pallet by maintaining high levels of flavor and textural complexity without demanding a set list of non-conventional

Necessary spices

  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • ½ tsp Ground ginger
  • ½ tsp Coriander
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Black pepper

Optional Spices

  • 1 tsp Allspice
  • A pinch of Saffron, steeped and strained

Vegetable Broth (for this recipe, you’ll need approximately 8 cups)

  • Onion/onion skins
  • Garlic/garlic skins/ends
  • Celery/celery trimmings
  • Carrot/carrot ends
  • Herbs (Parsley, Thyme, Bay leaves)

Major components (customize this list as you feel is necessary)

  • 1 large yellow onion (any type will suffice)
  • One butternut squash
  • ½ head of chopped Cauliflower
  • 2 – 3 Sweet potatoes
  • One peeled zucchini
  • Two whole, peeled tomatoes (optional)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (optional)

Protein (optional)

  • Chickpeas (as a vegetarian option)
  • Chicken breast

Toppings (optional)

  • Golden raisins (or other dried fruit)
  • Nuts (Crushed pistachios, toasted and crushed/sliced almonds)
  • Honey

The vegetable stock

While only two to four cups of broth are needed for this recipe, the leftover trimmings from this recipe can be utilized to make a much greater quantity of stock. The usability and versatility of vegetable stock make it an essential ingredient for many home cooks.

  1. If you are using whole vegetables cut them into smaller chunks.
  2. Heat your pot to medium-high heat and add oil. Once shimmering, add your chopped veggies/trimmings to the oil and saute your veggies for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Once onions start to sweat and garlic cloves barely brown, completely submerge the veggies in water. (Less water will yield a more concentrated stock)
  4. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for one hour.
  5. Once one hour has elapsed, strain the stock and dispose of the vegetables and salt strained stock to taste.

Moroccan Stew

  1. Chop and/or cube vegetables and set aside.
  2. In a large dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. To ensure the butter doesn’t brown, add diced onions and saute until translucent and brown but not burnt. Just before onions finish cooking, add garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  3. While the onions and garlic are sauteing, mix spices in a small bowl. Once mixed, add the spices to the pot, stirring constantly.
  4. Once the mixture is fragrant (30 seconds), add the broth and the remainder of the veggies to the pot
  5. Once the mixture reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat. Simmer the mixture for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. (If you are using chickpeas, add the chickpeas to the pot with the chopped veggies.)
  6. The stew’s base should reduce and the starch from the stock and sweet potatoes should cause the stew base to thicken. However, if you prefer your sauce to be more viscous, carefully add a cornstarch-water slurry to the stew. Note: The stew base should be thick enough to coat the bottom of a spoon. 
  7. Ladle stew over sorghum or basmati rice. (Other substitutes include lentils, quinoa, or couscous.) For added flavor and textural contrast, garnish the stew with golden raisins and/or crushed nuts. Salt to taste.
  8. (Optional) while the stew is simmering, dice and saute chicken over medium heat. Be sure to not move the meat too often, as we want to form a slight crust for textural contrast and flavor complexity. Once the chicken is cooked through, and the stew is plated, top the dish with the cooked chicken.