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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    Roasted Red Pepper, Black Bean & Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

    Roasted Red Pepper, Black Bean & Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

    Leftover quinoa in the fridge? This one is for you. 😊

    I recently bought a bag full of quinoa because I wanted to try my hand at popping it (like popcorn). Popped quinoa is something that was sold roadside and in artisan markets when I visited northern Chile. It was a novelty for me — though I had eaten plenty of quinoa before, and knew it was local to the Andean region, seeing it puffed was different. Think puffed rice, but round, smaller, and with a delicious nutty flavor.

    I tried two methods for popping the grains (one stove top, one in the microwave) and neither produced the results I was looking for. The final product was like a toasted quinoa seed, which was crunchy and nutty and great on yogurt. But it wasn’t a “pop” or a “puff” by any standard. Have you popped quinoa? How did you do it? Do I need an air popper? I have dreams of a chocolate almond butter granola bar with puffed quinoa and need your help!!

    On the bright side: these experiments have meant I’ve had plenty of quinoa in the pantry.

    Roasted Red Pepper, Black Bean & Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
    Roasted Red Pepper, Black Bean & Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

    Roasted Red Pepper, Black Bean & Quinoa Breakfast Bowls have been the highlight of my quinoa-filled week.

    They are an “oooooh, yummy” and also “oh that looks nourishing” kind of dish, at the same time.

    Making these in the morning is easiest when you have leftover quinoa and already cooked (or canned) black beans to start with. You can totally cook up a fresh batch to make these bowls, but using leftovers makes this easy, and easy mornings = good. Next time you’re making quinoa, make extra with tomorrow’s breakfast in mind.

    Then, all you have to do is sauté the bell peppers (doing this over low heat, with a pinch of patience, yields pepper strips that are almost caramelized… 😍 though in a rush, you can crank the heat and char the peppers a bit — just don’t burn the kitchen down - and get something more savory), fry an egg or two, and top with avocado.

    Something else I love about this breakfast bowl is that it starts with 3 extremely simple ingredients: grains, beans, and eggs. The basics really can “wow!”

    Last comment before the recipe — Is quinoa a grain or a seed? And what’s all this talk about “pseudocereal?” Well… first, you may be interested in this article covering the difference between a grain and a seed (it’s not a huge difference, and has to do with the coating on the seed). A pseudocereal is a crop that is not a grass grain but is used like one. Which is exactly how we tend to think of quinoa, even though it is not a grass grain! SO: Yes, quinoa is a seed. It’s used like a grain, making it a “pseudocereal.” Now that we have that bit of business covered…. Let’s eat!

    Roasted Red Pepper, Black Bean & Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

    Roasted Red Pepper, Black Bean & Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

    Published January 24, 2019 by
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    Serves: 2   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or other cooking oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, warmed
  • 1/2 cup black beans, canned or pre-cooked and strained, warmed
  • For serving: salt & pepper, sliced avocado, minced cilantro, lime wedges

  • Directions:

    1. Divide quinoa and black beans between two serving bowls.
    2. Cook the peppers: Heat cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil glistens, tilt the pan back and forth to coat it in oil. Place red peppers in pan, and sauté, stirring every 2-3 minutes, until peppers are soft and edges are browning. Transfer peppers to serving bowls.
    3. If your pan is dry, add a bit more oil. Crack the eggs into the pan, one at a time, and reduce heat to low. Cook until whites are completely set and yolks have reached your desired doneness. Use a spatula to transfer eggs to serving bowls.
    4. Top each bowl with salt & pepper to taste, sliced avocado, minced cilantro, and a lime wedge. Serve warm.

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    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

    Quinoa salads have been a staple lately. I make a big batch of quinoa, roast up some veggies (it's been extra hot here, so I quite literally carry our toaster oven into the garage and roast them in there so that the house doesn't take all that extra heat), allow everything to cool, and then toss it all with fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, feta, toasted pine nuts, and a lemon vinaigrette.

    The combo is light but satisfying, summery and fresh. And just look at that rainbow of colors:  

    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

    Another perk when it comes to quinoa salads is that you can very easily adapt them. Recently I added chickpeas in place of feta (a good vegan option, if you're into that), made a red wine, garlic and herb vinaigrette lemon, and served it all over butterhead lettuce instead of baby greens. Voila! A totally different experience, but the same exact method. 

    The point is, you can swap whatever the heck is in season into this recipe. This particular recipe uses peak-of-summer crops. Some other combos to tantalize your tastebuds with:

    • Cherry tomatoes, bite-sized fresh mozzarella pieces, and basil with balsamic vinaigrette

    • Fresh tomato, cucumber, parsley, kalamata olives and chickpeas for a greek version

    • Bell peppers, broccoli florets, cilantro, bean sprouts, and a sesame soy dressing

    • Sugar snap peas, roasted asparagus, radishes, and sprouts for a cheery spring edition

    • Roasted butternut squash cubes, goat cheese, black beans, and walnuts for a late summer or fall version

    But for now, onward to this summery rainbow of a recipe! 

    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

    Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

    Published June 19, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 60 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 medium summer squash
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/2 cup feta crumbles
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2-3 cups baby greens (such as baby kale or spinach) 

  • For the dressing:
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Dice eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes. Slice summer squash into half moons, and slice red onion into medium-large wedges. Spread all of them out on a sheet pan, and drizzle with olive oil, tossing them in the oil to coat. Roast veggies for 30-40 minutes, until onions are brown on the edges and eggplant is very soft the whole way through, and starting to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.
    2. In a large salad bowl, combine: cooled quinoa and cooled roasted veggies, sliced grape tomatoes, minced parsley, feta, pine nuts, and baby greens.
    3. In a small jar, combine ingredients for dressing. Close jar and shake to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss until everything is combined. Serve.

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