May 3, 2011

Moroccan chickpea and vegetable stew

The combination of butternut squash and warm spices with the piquant flavors of olives and preserved lemons give this Moroccan chickpea stew the kind of sweet, salty and tangy complexity I can’t resist. This recipe is also proof (like I needed more proof) that you don’t need meat to make a hearty main course. This is about as satisfying – and nutritious – as it gets.

I based this stew on an Aida Mollenkamp recipe, but used a more interesting spice mixture – including ground caraway seeds and coriander – as suggested in Martha Rose Shulman’s chickpea stew recipe from her book Mediterranean Harvest.

The harissa is an essential ingredient here, both in the stew and as a garnish. I bought a commercial brand, but here again, you can easily go the DIY route. I had never used preserved lemons before, and was quite taken with them. In fact, I might add even more of it next time I make this. Interestingly, when Deb from Smitten Kitchen made the same Aida Mollenkamp recipe, she hated the preserved lemons. I have to wonder if it was something about the particular brand, because the ones I bought were delicious. It’s also easy to make your own.

While you can make this with canned chickpeas, I do hope you’ll cook your own from scratch if you have time (it takes about two cups of dried chickpeas.) Not only are they tastier than canned chickpeas, it will save you a few bucks. And who doesn’t need that?

Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Stew

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onion
6 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 pound butternut squash, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 pound carrots, chopped
¾ pound new or Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 teaspoons harissa
pinch crumbled saffron threads
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice (recommend Eden Organic tomatoes, which are diced very small)
3 ½ – 4 cups vegetable stock
½ preserved lemon, finely chopped
1 cup large green olives, such as Cerignola


Toasted sliced or slivered almonds
Chopped fresh cilantro
Plain yogurt (soy or regular)

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onions, garlic, spices, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash, carrots and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add chickpeas harissa, saffron, and tomatoes. Add vegetable stock to just barely cover the vegetables. Cook, covered, for about 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Season with additional salt to taste, then stir in the preserved lemon and olives. Serve, garnishing with the suggested additions as you like.

Serves 6

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See more recipes: Beans & legumes, Entrees, Gluten-free, Vegan


  • yay! i get so excited when you post!

    this looks really delicious! i love that there are olives in it!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Caitlin, you win the prize for the fastest commenter ever! And just the fact that you are so excited makes me very happy today :)

  • Harissa is definitely on my list of things to make (or buy). I’m sure it is excellent in this stew.

  • I love Moroccan cuisine and have had this recipe bookmarked a long time… I even have a preserved lemon. Local spring produce still isn’t here, so perhaps I should go find myself another butternut squash. 😉

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Janet, it sounds like you are destined to make this! Thanks for the comment.

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Hi Sally. Do let me know if you make the stew. Thanks for stopping by.

  • […] Morroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Stew Recipe | What Would Cathy Eat? […]

  • I am drooling over this recipe! I am obsessed with harissa so this is a must-try asap. In fact, we are hosting a “meatless meal” contest on Better Recipes next week (starts tomorrow through Saturday) and you should totally consider entering. This recipe or any others you have! The weekly prize is $250 and a grand prize of $5000.

    It was great meeting you at Camp Blogaway and now I look forward to getting to know you better through your wonderful blog!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Wow, thanks Kristina. And I’m all over the contest! It was great to meet you, too.

  • Mmmm harissa, I love these Moroccan style dishes and the addition of olives here makes this super appealing, yum yum!!

  • ann chase

    This recipe was fantastic. It makes a ton so we’ll be eating it for a while but I anticipate that it will just get better and better. I couldn’t find preserved lemon but it was quite good without it. I added a dollop of greek yogurt when I served it and it was a hit.

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Ann, so glad you made this! I’ll have to send you some preserved lemons for the next time you make it :)

  • Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment on but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  • Carolyn Rogers

    Made this last week, Cathy, and Mary and I loved it! Like Ann I had to do without the preserved lemon. And one of the very FEW things I don’t eat, olives, were omitted as well. But it was so wonderful. Next time I’ll add the lemon for sure!

  • Mary M.H.

    Finally got my harissa at union market. added the olives too soon and forgot the lemon completely (guess i was a little distracted) but it turned out really good .i even served it in a tagine to make it festive, along with rice. greek yogurt and sliced almonds. next time i’ll add a little more harissa, as i wanted a more of a kick… for some odd reason, it didn’t have full impact… which is odd because often What would cathy eat recipes are full on hot, when hot is part of the equation.

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Thanks, Mary! I think I topped mine with some extra dollops of harissa. Do try to use the preserved lemon next time, as it adds an interesting dimension to the dish. But glad you liked it!

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