Stew Pots: Moroccan spiced butternut squash, chickpea & spinach stew, with saffron couscous and cucumber yogurt

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This intensely spicy vegan stew, is infused with exotic Moroccan flavours. It’s healthy, hearty and warming, perfect for forgetting our wretched winter weather.

This is an all-round menopause winner, full of pulses, potassium, a multitude of vitamins, plenty of fibre and several other key nutrients too. Beneficial for blood pressure, healthy skin, bones and your immune system too.

The yogurt dressing is optional for those that are not vegan, although it really completes the gastronomic Moroccan experience.

OK, there’s a long list of ingredients, but don’t be put off, you’ll probably have most of the spices in your cupboard. Satisfaction’s guaranteed with this stew.

Feel free to substitute the with brown rice or quinoa. Cook the stew in a large batch and freeze it for later.

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Serves:       6

Prep time:  10 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

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ingredients

  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small butternut squash, skin on
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • small pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 aubergine, cubed
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tbsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g can chickpeas
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 250g couscous
  • pinch saffron strands (optional)
  • pared zest (wide strips, use a potato peeler), and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 crumbled vegetable stock cube
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 30g flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Yogurt sauce (optional)

  • 250ml plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cucumber, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190C fan. Scoop out the seeds of the butternut squash and chopped into 1-2cm chunks and place in a baking tray with the diced carrot. Grind the coriander, cumin seeds and chilli flakes in a pestle and mortar, drizzle the butternut squash and carrot with at least 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and spread the seed mixture over the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, mix it well so they are covered in the oil and seed mix. Put in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes. Give them a stir halfway through.
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy based pot. Add the onion and red pepper, and sauté for several minutes before stirring through the garlic and ginger. Add the aubergine to the pan, add a drizzle more oil if required and season. Cover and let the vegetables soften for 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
  3. Sprinkle the spices over the cooking vegetables, allowing the flavours to infuse for several minutes, before adding the tins of chopped tomato. Stir to combine, season and bring to a gentle simmer, cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft – around 20 minutes. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to the pot along with the fresh spinach.
  4. When the butternut squash and carrot are cooked, add to the other vegetables and gently cook for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Place the couscous in a bowl with the saffron strands and the lemon zest strips. Dissolve the vegetable stock cube in 250ml boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Remove the lemon strips and fluff with a fork. Add the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and flat leaf parsley and stir.
  6. Meanwhile, in a medium serving bowl mix together the yogurt and cucumber ingredients and season to taste. Divide the couscous between plates and serve topped with the stew and a dollop of the yogurt and cucumber sauce.

Other recipes in our menopause mezze series

Aubergine salad recipe