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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    Soft & Chewy Flourless Ginger Tahini Cookies

    Soft & Chewy Ginger Tahini Cookies

    In January, well after holiday season was over, a client sent a big box of Tate's Cookies to the office, where they filled the kitchen counter for half a week. It was the worst (but also the best) kind of way to kick off January. I had been wanted to make a gingery version of these tahini chocolate chip cookies for some time -- I even had made a batch over the holidays that didn't quite work out. Despite it being peak resolution season, that counter full of cookies was just the push I needed to dive back into recipe development. 

    The dream: a chewy, rich, flourless ginger cookie with chunks of crystallized ginger. 

    I knew that tahini would be the perfect base, but my first attempt used far too much molasses and the cookies were WAY too soft. I learned, on that attempt, that coconut sugar really imparts enough molasses-y flavor anyhow, as it's unrefined so still carries all of the minerals that are stripped from refined sugars when molasses is made. 

    Soft & Chewy Ginger Tahini Cookies
    Soft & Chewy Ginger Tahini Cookies

    Tips for making these chewy tahini ginger cookies: 

    • STIR THAT TAHINI. This is in all caps because it's no joke. Tahini separates fast and if your tahini is all oil or all solids you're batter won't work. Last time I published a tahini cookie recipe someone asked about how to best stir tahini, which is a really good question because it's not the easiest to stir. But don't worry! Just scrape the entire jar into a blender, and let it rip. OR, carefully put your immersion blender into your tahini container (this is what I do, but also can foresee what a mess this might make in the wrong circumstances) 

    • Let them cool. Really! I too like hot-out-of-the-oven cookies, but these cookies need a minute to set up. More like 5-10. They'll still be warm, and they'll stay soft for a week at room temperature. BUT, if you try to pick one up while it's still piping hot it will just collapse and melt in your hand (if you can even get it into your hand). 

    Ok, "mom" warnings over. Now, the recipe! 

    Soft & Chewy Ginger Tahini Cookies

    Soft & Chewy Flourless Ginger Tahini Cookies

    Published February 21, 2019 by
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    Yields: 16   |    Active Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup tahini (stirred very well - try blending it with your blender if it is separated)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger grated on a microplane
  • Optional: 1/3 cup ginger chips (like this - affiliate link) or finely chopped crystallized ginger

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine coconut sugar, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Whisk briefly.
    3. Add tahini, vanilla, egg, and fresh ginger to bowl, and use a spatula to stir until a stiff, sticky batter forms.
    4. Optional: place bowl of batter in the fridge for 10 minutes to allow dough to stiffen a bit more.
    5. Using your hands, roll dough into spheres by the heaping tablespoonful. Place spheres at least 2 inches apart of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and flatted slightly with your fingers.
    6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies have spread and are golden. Cookies will still be quite soft when you remove them from the oven. Allow them to cool at least 10 minutes before attempting to move them to a cooling wrack or a plate.

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    Wild Rice Salad with Pomegranate & Satsuma Mandarins

    Wild Rice Salad with Satsuma Mandarins

    Two delicious fruits are currently in season: Pomegranates and Satsuma Oranges.

    When I was a kid my dad would buy pomegranate as soon as it appeared in stores. Back then the fruit wasn’t “cool” and no one was talking about how it was a good source of antioxidants. In fact, I would take it to school for lunch and other kids would ask, “What is that?” (I got that a lot — I always had the most “interesting” brown bag lunches.) I’ve adopted my dad’s habit, and hop on pomegranate season as soon as the fruits look bright and red and juicy. I put them in salads (like this one with kale and delicata squash or this one with brussels sprouts) and add the juice to smoothies. My favorite is my dad’s Pomegranate Sorbet (!), but this wild rice salad is a a healthier way to enjoy the flavor.

    Wild Rice Salad with Satsuma Mandarins
    Wild Rice Salad with Satsuma Mandarins

    When it comes to citrus fruits, I’ve never been the biggest fan — it’s not that I don’t like oranges, there are just other fruits I like more. BUT during citrus season, when everything is at it’s peak and you can find blood oranges and ruby red grapefruits and mandarins… that’s when I get on board. Satsuma Mandarins are the best, aren’t they?!

    These two fruits together sing winter to me — they are a pop of fresh in an otherwise dull season, little gems in this wild rice salad.

    Wild rice, by the way, is another key here. It’s nuttier than white rice and gives this salad great texture and flavor. Either use leftover rice or cook the rice ahead of time. You can do this in an Instant Pot (affiliate link!) by placing 1 cup water and 1 cup wild rice in the pot and setting it to High Pressure for 28 minutes, and then allowing the pressure to release naturally.

    The whole thing is tossed with arugula (which is why it can be called a salad 😏). The bitterness of the greens are a good balance to the sweetness of the fruit and nuts. Add toasted pecans on top of that, and every bite is a combo of nutty and fresh and savory and sweet.

    Wild Rice Salad with Satsuma Mandarins

    Wild Rice Salad with Pomegranate & Satsuma Mandarins

    Published January 10, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups baby arugula
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled wild rice (leftover rice does great!)
  • 3-4 Satsuma Mandarins, peeled
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate perils 
  • 3/4 cups toasted pecans
  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • For the vinaigrette:
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Make the vinaigrette: Add all ingredients for the vinaigrette to a jar. Close jar and shake to combine.
    2. Assemble salad: In a large salad bowl, combine arugula, wild rice, mandarins, pomegranate perils, and toasted pecans.
    3. Drizzle vinaigrette over rice salad to taste, adding additional salt & pepper to your preferences. Toss and serve.

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