As the days grow shorter and colder my desire for the warmth of a comforting stew beckons. While I love traditional American Holiday cuisine, I started composing this stew in my head I was inevitably craving something very different from the traditional American Thanksgiving fare. The recipe that inspired this stew called for chickpeas, and struck me as interesting but a bit bland as I read through it. I chose to use lentils for the nutritional punch they pack (I also happen to think they are delicious!), and Brian helped me look up traditional Moroccan spices we added to give the stew a more authentic flair.
I really love looking into world cuisine as it helps me think outside my American flavor box. Savory Moroccan dishes often call for seasoning that I would tend to associate with dessert. I love that the combination of so many of the food groups in one dish and the pairing of fruit with spicy heat. I didn’t find this stew to be hot at all, but I admittedly like some heat. Feel free to omit the peppers if you have more sensitive taste buds. Conversely, if you really like heat you could really amp it up in this recipe.
As for the lamb, it was on sale at a local grocery store. You could definitely make this recipe with chicken, turkey, or beef and have delicious results. Please feel free to make substitutions as you see fit. I’d love to hear about your variation!
Moroccan Lamb Lentil Stew
Yield: 14 Servings (approximately 2 cups each)
2 ½ lbs Lamb, fat trimmed, cut into small cubes
1 cup dried green lentils, well-rinsed
1 35 oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juices, broken up
3 Cups Butternut Squash, cubed, peeled, and roasted
5 large Turkish Apricots, diced
¼ golden Raisins, diced
3 medium carrots or ½ bag of Petit carrots, diced
3 medium red onions, diced
1 Tbsp Dried Jalepenos, diced ( I used Lighthouse Freeze Dried)
Juice of ½ a Lemon
7 Cups Chicken Stock
4 Cups Water
4 TBSP Lighthouse Freeze-Dried Cilantro ( or about 1 ½ Cups fresh chopped)
2 TBSP Lighthouse Freeze-Dried Parsley ( or about 3/4 Cups fresh chopped)
3 Garlic Cloves, Smashed and diced
1 TBSP Lighthouse Freeze-Dried Ginger (or about 2 tsp fresh grated)
1 tsp Ginger, Coriander, Allspice
½ tsp Nutmeg (Freshly grated if possible)
2 tsp Cinnamon, Ground Cumin
½ tsp Salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Non-Stick cooking Spray
Large Soup Pot (12-Quart works great)
9”x13” Baking Sheet
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Peel butternut squash, and scoop out seeds and membrane. Cut into ½ inch cubes and lay on a 9×13 baking tray coated with Parchment Paper and Non-Stick cooking Spray. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until cubes are fork tender. Set Aside.
(Hint: these freeze excellently)
- Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with Non-Stick cooking Spray and bring pot to medium high heat. Brown Lamb on all sides and then remove and set aside.
- Add the diced onions and carrots to pot and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, or until translucent.
- Add Garlic and sauté an additional 2 to 3 minutes
- Add the chicken stock and deglaze, scraping all the yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pan with a metal spatula
- Add everything except the salt, lemon juice, lamb, and squash. Reduce the heat to medium and cook 20 to 30 minutes, until lentils are tender. I prefer lentils al dente, like pasta. I wonder if there is a Moroccan word for al dente…
- Kill the heat, and add the lamb with the lovely pool of juices it is now likely sitting in. Squeeze in the lemon juice, and add the salt and a little pepper to taste. Taste a spoonful of cooled stew and see if it needs a little more of anything.
- Soups up! Enjoy a warm, hearty and healthy bowl of stew, and freeze leftovers if this recipe makes more soup than your family will eat in the next week.
You might feel so accomplished after this that you find the need to accompany your bowl with a fancy water goblet!