Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato

Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato

An unopened bottle of orange blossom water had been occupying precious real estate in our fridge for months as I debated the best thing to do with it. Finally I opened the bottle, just to smell. One whiff is all it took, and my thoughts were drifting away on a cloud of delicate blooms — soft and white, immensely fragrant. From that cloud, I landed in a darkly lit room, sitting at a large round table surrounded by smiling faces. My tenth birthday party.

We perch on round, gilded pillows at a low table. Silky fabrics hang from the ceiling, lining the walls and giving the room a sense of mystery. Someone has given me a warm, floral-scented cloth for cleaning my hands. A waiter is sprinkling us ceremoniously with orange blossom water, and the droplets land on my shoulders like the sweetest rain that ever rained. Talk about feeling like Queen for the day.

Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato

There are candles artfully lighting the space, but the most notable ones are balancing on a women’s body. A belly dancer. She gracefully juggles fire from her head to her elbows and back again, never missing a beat. We eat couscous, chicken with almonds, and b’stella pastry (a dish my dad would later take to making at home).

When it is time for tea, it is time for the greatest show of all. The waiter stacks drinking flutes in a pyramid. He makes a show of pouring the mint concoction from an ornate tea pot, starting with the top glass, and pouring until it pools over, filling the next two. The cascade continues, until each glass is full. (In my mind, the memory is almost a dream-state. I can’t quite figure out the physics of these glasses. How is it that they only spill in two directions? Did they have little spouts? Did he actually pour into glasses individually, and it is my memory that falters?)

We each take a glass and sip. It is, to this day, glorified as the best cup of mint tea I’ve ever had.

To say the least, I’ve been on a Moroccan food kick since I stole a breath of that orange blossom water in the fridge. I bought The Food of Morocco (affiliate link) and searched for something reminiscent of that day. I bought harissa paste and slivered almonds and actually started to use the orange blossom water.

Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato
Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato

The flavors of Moroccan food are so different from what you find in other cuisines. Flowers take on a large role. Both roses and orange blossoms. Herbs are used fresh. Citrus is a star of the show. Lamb, goat, cumin, paprika; Roses, pomegranate, dried fruits.

But, this stew is not traditional. It was never supposed to be. Rather, it’s approachable. It’s a one-pot wonder that has been Americanized, Instant Pot-ized, and everyday dinner-ized. It doesn’t ask you to buy a bottle of orange blossom water, which you would surely have to get at a specialty store (or on Amazon (affiliate link), like me). It also calls for quinoa in place of couscous (Couscous is a hand rolled pasta, so not GF, despite it’s millet-y looking appearance). The recipe calls for ingredients you know, but combines them with Moroccan flare in mind. Cumin — lots of cumin. Paprika. Turmeric. And cinnamon, a small amount, something we rarely add to savory dishes here in the US.

I know it’s starting to look a lot like spring in somewhere, but here — and lots of places - it will still be winter for at least a month. On a snowy evening, this stew is absolutely warming and cozy. Just my style.

For the curious: The restaurant I had my tenth birthday at, Boulder’s Mataam Fez, has since closed. There is a Mataam Fez in Denver that provides a similar (but IMO, not quite as magical) experience. Plan to make an evening of it.

Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato

Published March 5, 2019 by
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Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 45 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, cubed
  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas, strained
  • 1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • For serving: minced parsley or cilantro

  • Directions:

    1. In the bottom of an Instant Pot, heat coconut oil using the Sauté setting. When oil glistens, add onion, garlic, ginger and celery and sauté until onion is transparent.
    2. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine.
    3. Secure lid on Instant Pot and press the “Manual” button. Set to “high pressure” (labeled “more” on some models) and set timer for 1 minute with vent in the sealed position.
    4. When the timer goes off, turn off the Instant Pot and allow it to set for 10 minutes with out releasing the steam. This will ensure the quinoa is cooked through.
    5. After 10 minutes, release any remaining pressure. Stir, and ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro.

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    Easy, One Pan Paleo Ground Beef Korma

    Easy, One Pan Paleo Ground Beef Korma

    This is an older recipe from Foraged Dish that has been a long-time reader favorite, and a favorite of mine. I’m republishing it with some updates, including a how-to video that really highlights how easy it is to make this dish! 

    The Whole Foods Market in Boulder is extra large, partly because of an expansive prepared foods / hot bar / salad bar section. It’s buzzing with people at lunch time, and the parking lot is a mess! That’s where I first discovered ground beef korma — the hot bar, back in 2015. Whole Foods still has ground beef korma on it’s hot bar sometimes. Theirs is studded with peas but otherwise is super simple. That’s the beauty of this dish: simplicity! 

    I love curries, which is probably why, over the last three years this recipe has become a regular in our rotation. It’s by no means a traditional dish, but it is a 20-minute wonder, something you can make on the busiest of evenings. I’ve even made it camping, while in Ten Sleep, WY. 

    When I followed the Paleo to a T, I served this over cauliflower rice, but these days I serve it with regular rice. Take your pick — both are delicious. I do almost always use 85% beef, as it’s way juicier. If you do use 95% beef, you might add a touch more coconut milk than what the recipe calls for! 

    Easy, One Pan Paleo Ground Beef Korma

    If the video player does not appear below, you can watch it here.

    In India, I was taught the saying: “No hurry, no worry, no chicken curry.” It’s meant as an ironic statement there — because everyone is moving at their own pace — but also, there’s a lot of curry. In this case, the curry comes together fast so you don’t have to hurry or worry! :)

    Easy, One Pan Paleo Ground Beef Korma

    Published February 12, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef (85/15 recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium-sized jalapeño or serrano, minced (if you are sensitive to spicy foods, cut out and discard the seeds, then wash your hands and knife thoroughly)
  • 1 sixteen-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional--adds spice)
  • Dash of salt & pepper
  • To serve: rice or cauliflower rice
  • Garnish: Minced cilantro

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil in a 10 or 12 inch skillet over medium heat until oil glistens.
    2. Add onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeño to skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté until onions are translucent.
    3. Add beef, and use a wooden spatula to break meat up into grounds. Cook until browned.
    4. Add tomatoes, coconut milk, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, and a dash each of salt & pepper. Stir, and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
    5. Serve hot over rice or cauliflower rice, and garnish with cilantro.

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    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    Camera Update: I got my new camera in mail yesterday! I’m over the moon. I’ll be returning to the regular posting scheduling shortly, now what I can shoot! 

    Now... on to this delicious dish! 

    I’ve been on a re-working streak: revisiting old favorites from the blog and taking new pictures (like this Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry, or this Lemony Garden Vegetable & Chicken Soup). It takes some of the mind-work out of the equation, leaving me to only do the creative pieces: photography, a bit of writing, quite a lot of eating. 

    This one-pan chicken cacciatore is one of those revisited recipes. I originally made this recipe when I was in the middle of finals for grad school. It feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, exams, essays, and textbooks took up such a large part of my life it was hard to believe it could be any other way. In retrospect that was a short lived moment in my journey, one that I even forget about most of the time. All the better, as my experience with grad school was unremarkable. 

    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    When I first published this recipe I had said, "I need meals that are simple, quick, and take a minimal amount of brain work.” But I was also looking for ways to express myself creatively, something multiple choice tests didn’t allow. It's that creative need that comes through in this recipe, inspired by a single night out at Pasta Jay’s on Pearl Street. 

    I remember—not the exact dish I had eaten at Pasta Jay’s- but the thoughts that ran through my head when I ate the leftovers out of a cardboard to-go box the next day. The dish awed me, to be honest. I had never had anything but pasta-laden dishes from Italian restaurants before (to be expected), but this dish had no pasta, and was the best thing I’d eaten that month. 

    I ate that meal in 2011 and originally wrote up this recipe in 2015. It’s now been 7 years, and that first introduction to cacciatore stays with me.

    Making cacciatore is a bit of a production: if you really want to impress people, you’ll need to get fresh basil, and there are a few things you’ll need to chop. Oh, but it’s worth it. Since I’m usually making this on a weeknight, after running errands or getting a workout in, I try to chop everything ahead of time (in the morning, or the night before). I’ll even measure out the spices and put them in a bowl, so that when evening rolls around I don’t even have to think. Just put things in the pot (I use a blue Le Creuset Braiser for meals like this (affiliate link!)) and remember to stir occasionally! 

    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    Published February 27, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 60 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 1 pound bone-in chicken thighs (boneless and skinless is fine too, just reduce cooking time - cook thighs until internal temperature reaches 185°F)
    • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
    • 1/2 medium white onion, sliced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 bell peppers, sliced in strips (choose a variety of colors: yellow, red, or green)
    • 1/4 cup red wine, such a Pinot Noir or Sirah
    • 2 14.5-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and quartered 
    • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced chiffonade style style, plus more for garnish
    • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • Optional for serving: grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, red pepper flakes, extra basil leaves

    Directions:

    1. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet (I use my 5-qt Le Creuset Braiser (affiliate link!), though a 13 to 15 inch skillet would work as well). Once the oil glistens, place chicken thighs skin-side down in the pan. Sear the chicken for 3 minutes, then flip them over and continue to cook chicken for 5 more minutes.
    2. After 5 minutes, place the onions, garlic, and peppers in pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the wine, and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer.
    3. Pour in the tomatoes, and stir in the artichoke hearts, balsamic vinegar, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper.
    4. Bring back up to simmer, and place lid on pan. Cook, for 20-30 more minutes, until an instant read thermometer reads 185°F when inserted into the center of the thickest thigh.
    5. Remove from heat, and serve on plates or in bowls. Garnish with grated parmesan, red pepper flakes, and/or extra basil.
    6. Tip: try serving this over spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash for a grain-free pasta option.

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