Moroccan Inspired: Butternut Squash with Cumin Couscous

Moroccan tagine is a slow-cooked stew made with meat, vegetables, spices, dried fruit, and nuts; it is named after the dish that it is traditionally cooked in. I have not always been familiar with Moroccan food, but the first time I was served tagine, I realized it was the inspiration for this aromatic vegetable stew. My mom used to make this in the autumn and when I moved out, I asked her to send me the recipe – back when I was in college, this stew would last me for many meals of delicious leftovers that were far more nutritious than Ramen! (And the leftovers taste even better when the flavors have had a day or two to really come out.) Recently, my mom gifted me a butternut squash from her garden and I immediately knew what I was going to make with it.

Butternut Ingredients

Serves 6-8

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/3 cup dark or golden raisins
1 32-ounce container vegetable broth
1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups couscous
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup (1 ounce) slivered almonds
more salt and pepper to taste

Halve and peel the squash. Remove the seeds and cut the squash into 1-inch chunks.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the squash, tomatoes, raisins, broth, chickpeas, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until the squash is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

During the last 15 minutes, prepare the couscous: in a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water and the remaining cumin and salt to a boil. Stir in the couscous. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Divide the couscous among individual bowls and ladle the squash over the top. Sprinkle with the parsley and almonds.

Butternut Stew

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