Moroccan Chickpea and Squash Stew

published Mar 22, 2023
ramadan
Moroccan Chickpea and Squash Stew Recipe

A hearty, nourishing stew with butternut squash, dried apricots, and fragrant saffron.

Serves6

Prep15 minutes

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
moroccan chickpea stew in a bowl with bread and drink
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

In Morocco, evening Iftar meals during Ramadan often begin with a big bowl of harira — a hearty lentil, tomato, and chickpea soup. This recipe takes inspiration from that ever-popular dish and adds in butternut squash, dried apricots, and fragrant strands of saffron, which lend depth and sweetness, while also making it a more substantial stew. However you want to label it, it’s a nourishing bowl of comfort food that will fill your whole kitchen with the heady scents of warming spices such as cinnamon, smoked paprika, and ginger.

The stew is also dairy-free and vegetarian! You can serve it with warm fresh bread on the side, like toasted buttered sourdough or Arabic khubz flatbreads drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. This is a great dish to make ahead, as the flavors taste even better after the stew has rested for a few hours or overnight.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Moroccan Chickpea and Squash Stew Recipe

A hearty, nourishing stew with butternut squash, dried apricots, and fragrant saffron.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2

    medium yellow onions

  • 2 tablespoons

    sunflower or vegetable oil

  • 2 medium stalks

    celery

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon

    smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground ginger

  • 3/4 cup

    dried split red lentils

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    crumbled saffron strands

  • 1 pinch

    granulated sugar

  • 12 ounces

    butternut squash

  • 8

    dried apricots

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    chickpeas

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    or 1/2 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes

  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups

    low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

  • 1/4 cup

    uncooked white rice

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 medium bunch

    fresh cilantro

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • Lemon juice

  • Aleppo pepper or other red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Finely dice 2 medium yellow onions (2 1/2 cups). Heat 2 tablespoons sunflower oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened and browned, stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely dice 2 medium celery stalks (1/2 cup) and finely chop 4 garlic cloves. Fill a kettle or medium saucepan with at least 3 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil, then take off the heat.

  2. Add the celery, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger to the pan. Stir well and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

  3. Add 3 cups of the boiled water and 3/4 cup dried split red lentils, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until softened and all the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients.

  4. Grind 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron strands in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, or crumble finely with your fingers. Transfer to a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the boiled water and 1 pinch granulated sugar, and smash together with the back of a spoon; set aside to steep. Peel 12 ounces butternut squash and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (2 1/2 cups). Halve 8 dried apricots. Drain and rinse 1 (about 15-ounce) can chickpeas.

  5. Add the saffron liquid, squash, chickpeas, apricots, 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, 1 (15-ounce) can tomatoes and their juices, 1/4 cup uncooked white rice, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the pan. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.

  6. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is completely soft and beginning to melt into the stew, 25 to 30 minutes. Add more broth 1/4 cup at a time as needed if the stew is dry. Meanwhile, finely chop 1/4 medium bunch fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems until you have about 1/4 cup.

  7. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the cilantro for garnish. Add the remaining cilantro and 3 tablespoons olive oil to the stew and stir to combine. Taste and season as needed with more kosher salt, black pepper, or lemon juice. Serve garnished with the reserved cilantro and Aleppo pepper or other red pepper flakes if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 6 months.