Moroccan sweet potato and eggplant stew

For Christmas, my Aunt gave me Nina Olsson’s book Bowls of Goodness: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes full of Nourishment. There are a lot of good recipes in here and everything I’ve made is quite tasty. This Moroccan sweet potato and eggplant stew was the first thing I made. I loved the flavor and was very pleased.

This is a good cook book that I would recommend at least checking out from the library. There are a few things I think could be better about the book. First, some of the ingredients can be hard to find, even for me and I live in Boulder where these things should be staples. I reluctantly had to trudge into Whole Foods for a few things. So for people living in areas where things like harissa and black lentils are not readily available, some of the recipes are inaccessible. Second, the book could do a better job of giving approximate amounts. For example, for the recipe here she recommends 2 purple onions, two eggplant and SIX sweet potatoes for a stew that is supposed to serve four. I made this recipe as stated and it made an enormous amount of food. Finally, a lot of these recipes call for a sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or agave where I don’t think it needs it. For example, this stew calls for 1 tablespoon honey, which is just not necessary with so many sweet potatoes, a spice that has sugar in it and raisins. With that said, I changed the amounts to what I think is appropriate.

This recipe calls for a spice called ras el hanout, which was new for me. Thankfully, it is basically just a blend of spices you may already have, so you probably won’t have to head out to buy this spice. It has nutmeg, coriander, cumin, ginger, tumeric, salt, cinnamon, sugar, paprika, black pepper, cardamom, all spice and cloves. This recipe also calls for harissa paste. You can get harissa as a powder and apparently as a paste. I had to go to Whole Foods to find it and the person working there showed me this harissa paste (pictured below). It is basically a mixture of peppers, olive oil and harissa. I don’t know if this is the harissa paste she is talking about in her book, but I think it’s pretty tasty and I’ve since used it in other dishes.

One thing to be careful with here is the tahini. My tahini did not dissolve and I ended up getting it all in one bite and it was unpleasant. You will need to make an effort to whisk it in until it dissolves to avoid this problem.

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Spices for the ras el hanout
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The harissa paste I use
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The final product

Moroccan sweet potato and eggplant stew

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

For the stew:

Olive oil
1 purple onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ras el hanout
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp salt
1 eggplant, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14oz. can coconut milk
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon harissa paste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
handful of raisins
salt and pepper

For the ras el hanout:

2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp cloves

To serve:

1 1/2 cups couscous
Chopped almonds
Fresh mint

Make the ras el hanout by combining all the spices and mixing together.

Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the onion and cook for about 7 minutes or until the onion starts to get soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add in the spices, eggplant, bell pepper and sweet potatoes. Mix and cook for a few minutes. Add in the coconut milk, diced tomatoes, tahini, harissa paste and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover slightly and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft.

While the stew is simmering, cook the couscous according to the packing instructions. Chop some almonds and mince the mint.

When the stew is done, mix in the raisins. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

Serve over the couscous, top with the almonds and mint.

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