Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saffron-Spiked Moroccan Stew

Time for a guest blog by Simon! Carol was at a talk with the owner/founder of Sticky Fingers on Thursday night, so Rachel and I were left to fend for ourselves. Sometimes when Carol has other plans we make meat-centric dishes, but this dish had to last a few meals for everyone, so we went with the standard vegan. My dad visited last weekend and brought saffron, so we decided to try it out.

Saffron-Spiked Moroccan Stew
  • Olive oil for sauteing
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large bell peppers (any combination of red and green should be fine)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ginger (preferably fresh, but dry works too)
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1.5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1-15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1-15oz can chickpeas, drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil and saute the onion, peppers, and garlic in a large pot over medium-high until the onions are cooked through.

Stir in the brown sugar, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, ginger, and saffron, stirring for 60 seconds.

Add the sweet potatoes, stock, tomatoes, and chickpeas. Turn to high to bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked.

Yields 4 servings.


I wanted to really be able to taste the saffron in this dish, both because I had never tasted it and because I would have felt silly drowning out a costly ingredient. The saffron definitely came through, so the taste rating is mostly a reflection of my taste for saffron. It certainly has a distinct flavor--one that's earthly and floral and that does not compare to most other tastes. The flavor grew on me over time, though I think the recipe could use a bit less so the saffron flavor is the star player but not the flavor ball-hog.
Most people do not have saffron around, and it is rather expensive ($15 a teaspoon or so). That being said, it is available in most grocery stores, so you wouldn't need to go out of your way. The rest of the ingredients are pretty typical, and if you don't have or want to buy saffron, I think the dish with the other ingredients would be pretty good as well
 Ease of Preparation:   
Though the preparation does not include any fancy cooking techniques, there is quite a bit of chopping involved. We doubled the recipe, and the total onion/pepper/sweet potato chopping probably took 45 people-minutes.     
Non-vegan friendliness:  
This dish fits into the typical vegan-style one-pot meal. I do not think it's really missing meat, and the sweet potatoes and chickpeas provide a variety of textures. However, it is lacking a bit of substance, and even after a full bowl I found myself raiding the fridge for a bite or two to satisfy my hunger.
Guest blog complete!

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