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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    Cheesy Bacon Sweet Potato Skins

    Cheesy Bacon Sweet Potato Skins

    These sweet potato skins, stuffed with creamy sweet potato mash and cheese and bacon, were originally created as a hooray-it's-Friday, game-day, movie-watching snack, but I'll let you in on a secret: the leftovers make a damn delicious breakfast when reheated. But maybe that's just me. Either way, they DO make a fantastic over-the-top snack/appetizer/appetizer that you're calling dinner. 

    It starts with sweet potatoes (bake 'em up!). The soft, sweet flesh gets mashed with sour cream, which makes them ULTRA creamy and flavorful.

    Cheesy Bacon Sweet Potato Skins
    Cheesy Bacon Sweet Potato Skins

    Toppings is where these sweet potato skins get their name -- and where it gets really delicious. First -- shredded Monterey Jack. Then, bacon pieces. I used Tender Belly Habanero Bacon which was SO good because it's just the right balance of sweet and spicy, but your favorite bacon will be perfect, no matter what it is. The potatoes go in the oven like that, just until the cheesy is extra gooey, and then get topped with fresh green onions (need a little bit of green in all of that orange! 😉), a dollop of fresh sour cream, a few slices of jalapeño (for extra zip!), and a dash of smoked paprika (which also adds nice color and flavor).

    All that's left to do is eat! 

    Cheesy Bacon Sweet Potato Skins

    Cheesy Bacon Sweet Potato Skins

    Published January 22, 2019 by
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    Serves: 12   |    Active Time: 1 hour



    Ingredients:

  • 6 sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • Several dashes of paprika, for garnish
  • Optional: 1 jalapeño, sliced for garnish

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prick each sweet potato with a fork, and bake for 45-50 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft all the way through. Allow sweet potatoes to cook 10-15 minutes, or until they are cool enough for you to handle.
    2. Slice each sweet potato in half. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of each potato half and into a bowl without breaking the skin of the potato (tip: leave about 1/4 inch of flesh attached to the skin, it helps keep everything together!).
    3. Mash sweet potato flesh with 1/3 cup sour cream, salt, and pepper until everything is incorporated (a few lumps are OK).
    4. Scoop mashed sweet potato into potato skins. Top with cheese and bacon bits. Place back in oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and just starting to bubble. Remove from oven, and top with green onions, a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of paprika, and if using, a slice or two of fresh jalapeño.
    5. Serve hot.
    Reheating leftovers: Leftovers can be reheated in a microwave (1-2 minutes, depending on microwave), toaster oven or oven (350° for 10-15 minutes, until warmed through)

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    Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberries, Walnuts, and Goat Cheese

    Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

    You know that feeling the week after the holiday season, or a vacation, when you just want a bowl full of veggies, because you haven’t had enough recently? Because I do! And salads like this are the answer. A bowl full of greens, but also sustenance — sweet potatoes, walnuts and goat cheese!

    And, this salad is one even veg-haters will like (said it already, but: potatoes, cheese, nuts… I mean is it even a salad? You don’t have to tell them there’s — ehem - kale under all those potatoes).

    Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite roots. Their flavor is SO good, and they pair well with virtually anything. They are also super rich in beta carotene (dark orange sweet potatoes have more beta carotene than carrots!) and vitamins A and C. 🙌

    Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

    The whole thing is then drizzled with an apple cider vinaigrette which has shallots and dijon mustard and even a little bit of honey — just the right balance of sweet and acid. It’s a pretty classic vinaigrette and one that you can use on just about any kind of salad or with any veggie (not just this salad!). (And if you don’t have shallots, it’s OK to skip them — but they really are good and worth the effort, so go ahead and just add them to your grocery list right now).

    Lastly, if you’re into meal planning (I’ve never been that organized, but if you are, I’m in awe), you can make a big sheet pan of sweet potatoes ahead of time. Use some of them on this salad for light lunches throughout the week, and use the other half as a side with this Parma Rosa Chicken for dinner.

    Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

    P.S., If you like this salad combo, you may also like this Fresno Mint Broccoli Salad with Sweet Potato!

    Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberries, Walnuts, and Goat Cheese

    Published January 8, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 50 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, roughly diced
  • 1 tablespoon oil, such as avocado
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 cups kale, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles

  • For the vinaigrette:
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Roast sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss potatoes in 1 tablespoon oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast in oven for 40-45 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soften all the way through and crisping on the edges. Set aside to cool.
    2. Prep the kale: place torn kale pieces in a salad bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice. Using your hands, massage the kale with the lemon juice until the kale is bright green (Why do this? It makes is softer, easier to digest, and nicer to eat).
    3. Top kale with sweet potatoes, cranberries, walnut pieces, and goat cheese crumbles.
    4. Make vinaigrette: combine all ingredients for vinaigrette in a jar and shake to combine. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad, and serve.

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