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OK – in order to make this recipe – you really will need two important ingredients – seen above – preserved lemons & ras el hanout. The preserved lemons will give the dish its distinctive Moroccan flair and the ras el hanout will keep this stew from tasting like a curry. You can make the ras el hanout – as it is just a blend of other spices – but buying it will be so much cheaper & easier. See the package below – list the spices involved in that particular brand.
I used saffron – because I had it – but saffron can be very expensive so – if you don’t have any & don’t want to shell out the funds – blow the saffron off. Same with the harissa (a hot sauce). The two things I really suggest you not blow off are the preserved lemons & the ras el hanout – both of which can be purchased on Amazon.
Preserved lemons come in a jar (see above) & are simply lemons pickled in brine. They maintain all their sharp lemon flavor but are quite salty & very soft. The flavor they give this dish is critical – so – be patient – and get some before making this.
Other than that – this is a straight-forward slow cooker dish (which could be made by simmering on the stove, too) with ingredients that are easy to come by. I served mine with this Trader Joe’s blend of grains but couscous is more traditional. I like this stuff from Trader Joe’s because it is pretty & offers lots of textures. You can serve yours with whatever grain you prefer.
I used Beyond Meat chicken because I think it is the best on the market. I thawed & shredded it because it breaks down in stews better that way & because – visually – it really looks like shredded chicken. I am convinced you could slip this by meat-eaters with no complaints.
Vegan Moroccan Chicken, Chickpeas & Butternut Squash with Preserved Lemons for the Slow Cooker (or Not)
Serves 4-6 with couscous or rice
9-12 oz vegan chicken
1 onion – diced
2-4 garlic cloves – chopped
2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas – drained
4 cups vegetable stock
1 TBS ras el hanout
1/4 – 1 preserved lemon (depending on hpw large it is) – diced small (start with less & add more as you go – just so that this flavor doesn’t get to overpowering for you) – I used the entire 1/2 lemon using all parts
Saffron (a large pinch or more) – optional
Green and/or black olives – I used half Kalamata & half large martini olives – in a quantity to suit your taste for olives – optional
1 TBS harissa (or other hot sauce) – optional
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
3 carrots – chopped
1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded & cubed
1/2 – 1 red bell pepper – diced
1 lemon – peeled & sliced
1 handful cilantro
GARNISH – chopped cilantro or parsley, lemon wedges/slices
Cooked couscous or other grain
Instant Pot – Put all the ingredients in & use soup setting for 20 minutes.
Slow cooker – Put everything into a slow cooker & cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8. If you started light with the preserved lemon – taste occasionally & add more – if you like the flavor. Overall – it should have a strong lemon flavor. It should not need salt – because the preserved lemons, olives & stock should have that covered.
Stove top – just bring to a boil & simmer everything until the vegetables are soft – likely less than an hour. If you started light with the preserved lemon – taste occasionally & add more – if you like the flavor. Overall – it should have a strong lemon flavor. It should not need salt – because the preserved lemons, olives & stock should have that covered.
In all cases – add water if it gets too thick. Drain in a colander if it is too wet.
Serve with whatever grain you chose & garnish with cilantro or parsley & lemon wedges.