Thursday, May 23, 2013
Moroccan(ish) Spring Stew
Me: "What would you like for dinner this week?"
This conversation plays out almost every Saturday morning when I do our menu planning for the week before we go grocery shopping. Chris loves my chili, which is very sweet, but it's May and I'm not really in the mood for chili, which seems like a fall/winter dish.
I am, however, in the mood for spring ingredients like fennel and peas. I wondered what it would be like to make a chili-like dish, perhaps a stew, but without thing like tomatoes or corn that aren't in season right now.
Admittedly, my chili isn't very authentic. I love it with lots of vegetables and yes, beans. I wouldn't dare bring my chili anywhere near Texas, but I love it. And so does Chris, which is why he's always asking for it.
I got the idea that it would be interesting to give this stew a spice profile that's a little different from chili. Something perhaps Middle Eastern or Mediterranean. Looking for something along those lines, I came across this Moroccan Bean Stew with Sweet Potatoes recipes on Forks Over Knives that was pretty close to what I wanted. Drawing inspiration from it, I developed the recipe below with ground turkey, sweet potato, onion, fennel and chickpeas.
I love the combination of spices in this. I toasted the cumin and fennel seed whole and then ground them in a coffee grinder that I've repurposed as a spice grinder. I'm just not motivated enough at 6:00 a.m. to grind coffee beans. The cinnamon is really great too.
I don't know anything about authentic Moroccan cooking and I don't know how authentic Forks Over Knives' recipe is, but it doesn't matter. This is a great dish. The pinch of cayenne adds a touch of heat, the potatoes a touch of sweetness, and although this is a warm, hearty dish, it's not overpoweringly so. In short, it's perfect for a cool May day.
Even if it's not really "chili."
Moroccan(ish) Spring Stew
With elements adapted from Moroccan Bean Stew with Sweet Potatoes by Forks Over Knives
2 tsp. cumin seed
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 lb. ground turkey (dark meat if available)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced with fronds chopped and reserved
1 celery stalk, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced (no larger than 1/4-inch pieces)
4 garlic cloves, smashed
Salt, to taste
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1. heat a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Add cumin and fennel seed and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Grind toasted spices in a spice or coffee grinder.
2. Heat a dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium heat. Add ground turkey and cook until browned. Remove from pot.
3. Increase heat to medium-high. Add olive oil and, when hot, add onion, fennel, celery, sweet potato, garlic and salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
4. Add ground spices, coriander, cinnamon, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, bay leaf, frozen peas, chickpeas and chicken broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve topped with chopped fennel fronds.