Recipe: Moroccan chicken, chickpea, and squash stew

Sauteing onions and zucchini with some cumin, cinnamon, and tomato paste.
Sauteing onions and zucchini with some cumin, cinnamon, and tomato paste.

This evolved from me kind of impulse-buying a butternut squash from the corner shop, recalling my favorite winter squash recipes, like this risotto, or simply halving and roasting with maple syrup, spices, and a hint of butter. Then I thought, “How can I cram as much nutrition as possible into a single dish?” After all, with 8 people sharing 1 large and 2 small fridges, I have pretty limited shelf space, and only taking one tupperware into work for lunch is a plus as well.

So I turned to my long list of favorite cooking blogs, and Smitten Kitchen, of course, had a promising recipe for a chickpea and butternut squash salad, dressed with garlic, lemon, and tahini. From there, the squash and chickpea Moroccan stew caught my eye, but I balked at the fancier ingredients listed (I’m sure I could find preserved lemons here, but I’m betting they’re expensive…). Having found a simpler version on MyRecipes that used chicken instead of chickpeas as a protein source, I resolved to combine the two and make it immediately.

Everything (except the orange zest and raisins) cooking away.
Everything (except the orange zest and raisins) cooking away.

Then I went ahead and roasted my butternut squash anyway. No regrets. It was delicious. However, when I was shopping for that recipe, I decided to buy myself another butternut…you know, just in case. Now that one has been languishing in my cupboard for a few weeks with some cans of chickpeas and tomatoes, waiting for its chance to get made into stew. After taking a break from pulses (well, mostly) last week with ginger fried rice, they’re back, in the form of chickpeas! I took my own advice from when I roasted my last butternut squash and added some potatoes to increase the calorie-to-cost ratio a bit. Finally, I recalled the delicious mixture of sweet and savory from other Moroccan dishes I’ve tasted, and added some raisins (since I didn’t have currants; I think they would be better) to try to complement the savory spices and sweetness of the butternut squash.

The precursor recipe: a whole chicken stuffed with lemon, garlic, and herbs, roasted with onions, butternut squash, and potatoes. SO GOOD.
The precursor recipe: a whole chicken stuffed with lemon, garlic, and herbs, roasted with onions, butternut squash, and potatoes. SO GOOD.

Now, a confession: I haven’t actually made the recipe below. My friend Elise was visiting from Germany this weekend (more on that in a different post), and we lemon-garlic roasted a chicken with potatoes and butternut squash and some onions the night before. Then we saved all the leftover roast vegetables, picked all the extra meat off the chicken carcass, made stock with the carcass and all those frozen vegetable scraps I’ve been saving, and used the leftover meat and roast veggies in place of the chicken tenders, butternut squash, and potatoes listed below. It was absolutely delicious, and probably the way I’d recommend making the recipe. However, I recognize that most of the time, making a very time-consuming dish (even an extremely good one!) as the precursor to another meal kind of defeats the purpose of “easy cooking.” As such, I’ve left my original recipe plan, using chicken tenders and uncooked potatoes and squash, as the “default” recipe, with parenthetical instructions for those using leftover cooked chicken and roast potatoes/squash. I’m 99% sure that this version will work.

One bowl of awesome, coming right up!
One bowl of awesome, coming right up!

Enough blathering. On to this very tasty recipe!

Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea, and Squash Stew

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and

Yield: 6-8 servings, more if part of a larger meal/served with couscous.

1.5 Tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
6-8 chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces (or leftovers from 1/2 a roast chicken, shredded)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, 1/2 inch cubes
3-4 red or baby potatoes, 1/2 inch cubes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Salt and black pepper
3 c chicken or vegetable stock
1 can (14 oz) chopped tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Pinch saffron threads (optional)
1-2 zucchini (depending on size), quartered, then chopped into 3/4-in pieces
1/4 c raisins or currants
2 tsp orange zest

Garnishes (optional):
Plain yogurt
Chopped fresh basil
Toasted slivered almonds
Hot sauce of your choice

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper, and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chicken pieces and cook, browning on all sides to ensure doneness (if using leftover roast chicken, add with the broth). (If using pre-cooked chicken, squash, and potatoes, add zucchini here and saute until lightly browned and tender, 5-10 minutes.) Add butternut squash, potatoes, and tomato paste, stir to incorporate with spices, and cook until just tender, about 5-10 minutes (if using leftover roast vegetables, add, stir to incorporate with spices, and let warm 1-2 minutes; the longer cooking time is not necessary).

Add broth, canned tomatoes with juices, chickpeas, and saffron threads, if using. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes. Add raisins and orange zest and simmer for additional 2-3 minutes, until squash and potatoes are tender (if using pre-cooked ingredients, simply ensure everything is hot and raisins have become plump; boiling is not necessary).

Serving suggestion: Over couscous (if you can eat it), quinoa, millet, or rice (if you can’t), or just as a soup, with as many garnishes as you desire. I particularly recommend topping with plain yogurt.

4 thoughts on “Recipe: Moroccan chicken, chickpea, and squash stew

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