North African Squash Stew
Dinner, Entrees, Soup, Stew, Vegan

North African Winter Squash Stew

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After weeks and weeks of Indian food R&D I decided I needed a little break. Even though this recipe uses tons of spices and some of them are even similar to the ones I’ve been using, the addition of a few different spices makes a whole different flavor profile.

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I had a lot of veggies on hand thanks to my CSA so I tweaked this recipe to make use of them all.

It’s actually feeling a little like winter here in Los Angeles which is not always the case in January.  I have spent many Januaries enjoying 80 degree days and warm Santa Ana winds coming from the deserts.  But this year we’ve had an incredible amount of rain, which we desperately needed, and that has kept the temperatures a little on the cool side.  I am not going to complain one bit because that means I get to enjoy the hell out of a nice hearty, warm stew like this one.

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This is what the base of the stew looked like before I threw in the yellow split peas and the veggies. It smelled amazing too!  The cinnamon is what really makes this dish taste North African to me.

The recipe called for a specific spice mix that I didn’t have.  But what it did have was a recipe to make the spice mix myself.  I always prefer this because I have a lot of spices on hand and mixing my own saves me so much space in my pantry.  Plus I can just mix the amount I need instead of having to buy a whole jar of it.  I mixed exactly the amount needed for this dish and then I was done.  No need to worry about how I’m going to use the rest of this random spice mix.  I mean, what if I hated the dish?!?!?

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I took these guys and threw them in after the yellow split peas were tender. The veggies, especially the spinach, take way less time to cook.

I loved this dish.  It was aromatic, rich, full of depth and flavor and still healthy.  It also made really good use of the squash that I got in my CSA.  Definitely one to put in the rotation.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Delightful Recipe

Serves 4-6
Adapted from New York Times


  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, stems removed and chopped, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 a cinnamon stick
  • 2 quarts of veggie stock
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 large winter squash, peeled and cubed
  • 6 cups of spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Heat 1 – 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add leeks and cook until beginning to brown.
  • Stir in cilantro stems, sliced fennel and garlic.  Cook until fragrant and beginning to soften.
  • Add the spices; paprika, coriander, cumin, turmeric, black pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, cinnamon stick.  Then add tomato paste and sautee until the tomato paste begins to darken in color.
  • Stir in broth and 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer.  Stir in saffron, raisins and yellow split peas and let simmer until the peas are tender.  Add salt to taste.
  • When peas are tender, add in the squash and spinach and cook until squash reaches desired doneness.  Taste and adjust salt as needed.
  • Add the cilantro leaves just before serving and reserve a few for garnish.  Serve hot with rice or pita.
North African Squash Stew

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