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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    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    This is a bit of a teaser for what’s to come on Thursday — for simplicity sake, I wanted to break out the instructions for the sauce and another recipe (plus, there are plenty of ways to use this sauce!). And no… enchiladas are not on the docket! (Though that reminds me I should make some enchiladas soon). In any case, my lips are sealed. You’ll see Thursday’s recipe soon enough!

    I first “dared” to make my own enchilada sauce while I was working in a restaurant in college. I was not the saucier, or anything close to it — more like waitress that occasionally helped with some baking - but when I was baking, I would watch the happenings of the kitchen while I slowly stirred a caramel, weighed flours, or chilled dough. It just so happened that my station was right next to the saucier, and that is what gave me the confidence to make this sauce.

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    First, I realized that the marvelous sauce that was used for braising pork was as simple as puréeing some select ingredients in the blender — and then, I realized that said sauce was pretty darn close to enchilada sauce. I did a little bit of reading and next thing you know I was blending enchilada sauce every week (even without the blender lid on one time… but we’ll save that messy story for another time).

    You can use this sauce for oh so many more things than enchiladas (though using it in these leftover turkey enchiladas is perfect). In fact, I started using it to braise beef (Oofta! That recipe is old — please forgive those grainy photos. Oh what a difference three years makes), but now I’m much more into making enchilada casseroles or huevos rancheros with salsa rojo.

    Sauce is the start of many a great dish. More sauce! If any of you have ever watched Chopped, you know the judges are always talking about sauce, and with good reason. 😋

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    Published September 25, 2018 by
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    Serves: 2 cups   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 sixteen-oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup broth (chicken, beef or veggie)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a skillet on the stove. When the oil glistens, add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are transparent and starting to brown. Remove from heat.
    2. In a blender (I use a Blendtec - affiliate link!), combine onions and garlic, diced tomatoes, broth, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Secure lid on blender and purée.
    3. Use sauce immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.

    2 Comments

    Layered Summer Ratatouille

    Summery Ratatouille

    Continuing with the theme of recipes that use up all of your summer produce: Ratatouille! 

    Admittedly my garden has been very slow to produce this year probably due to the hailstorm in mid-June, but I’m guessing most of you don’t have that problem, so you’ll be able to make use of this recipe soon!

    Is there a more beautiful way to display summer produce than a ratatouille? An array of color, layers of vegetables. And it's really quite simple to make, easier than pie! Easier than it looks — that’s for sure. 

    So what is ratatouille? There are two different versions: one where all the vegetables are stewed together, and this one, where delicate rounds of tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant are arranged over an herby tomato sauce. That’s it! From there you can customize: add protein to the sauce, top with fresh cheese or herbs, you name it.

    Summery Ratatouille
    Summery Ratatouille

    I served this version over Ina Garten's Parmesan polenta and OMG... I don’t think I’ve ever had such delicious polenta. I wouldn’t call it healthy or anything of that nature. But it is soooo good! And goes perfectly well with this ratatouille, rounding out the meal.

    Can you believe it’s August already? Where has the time gone?! 

    Summery Ratatouille

    Layered Summer Ratatouille

    Published August 2, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 70 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 skinny eggplant
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper, any color
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, or 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • For serving: minced fresh basil, shredded parmesan.
  • Optional: if you would like to add protein to this recipe, 1 cup of cooked hot Italian sausage crumbles.

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. In the bottom of a 9x9inch baking dish, spread the tomato paste in an even layer. Sprinkle with onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, and basil. If you are using the sausage, spread crumbles over tomato paste layer at this time.
    3. Slice the zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, and bell pepper into thin rounds. Arrange the rounds in overlapping rows over the tomato paste layer. Brush with oil, and then season with salt & pepper.
    4. Bake for 50 minutes, until veggies are softened through an golden on the edges. Top with minced fresh bail and shredded parmesan. Serve hot.

    6 Comments