For those of you who tuned in last week, I’m happy to report that I made it to Morocco and had an incredible time.
In a whirlwind tour that lasted six days, we journeyed from the capitol city of Rabat to the historic city of Fez, and then on to the incomparable Marrakech before landing in Casablanca and, yes, having a drink in Rick’s Café while there.
Every stop unveiled something new to discover, from the Royal Palace in Rabat to the medina of Fez, the souks and a culinary demonstration in Marrakech and the world’s second largest mosque, abutted by sky and water, in Casablanca. Oh, and did I mention the mint tea? Nobody makes a tea with fresh mint quite like the Moroccans.
This tour was a feast for the eyes and the palate. And so that you don’t think I’d forgotten you during my journey, I’m happy to share a recipe for couscous with seven vegetables from my culinary demonstration in Marrakech as a souvenir from my trip.
The one that we enjoyed also had lamb, but this version also includes dried fruits and the seven vegetables are said to symbolize luck in Morocco. Enjoy.
Seven-Vegetable Couscous with Dried Fruits and Ras El Hanout (Source: Mediterranean Cook by Paul Gaylor)
Prep Time: 1 Hour 50 Minutes, plus overnight soaking
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
13 cups vegetable stock or water
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ teaspoon tumeric
½ tablespoon saffron or powdered saffron
½ tbsp. cinnamon
½ cup unsalted butter
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. ras el hanout (spice mixture available at specialty stores)
3 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes
2 large parsnips, cut into wedges
1 lb. squash, cut into large cubes
2 large turnips, cut into wedges
3 carrots, cut into 1 in. slices
4 baby zucchini, cut into 1 in. slices
2 onions, cut into wedges
1 rutagbaga, cut into large cubes
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried dates
¾ cup dried apricots
2 ¾ cups quick couscous
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
1. In a large pan, place the soaked chickpeas, vegetable stock, garlic, dried spices and butter and cook for 1 ½ hours or until tender. Drain the chickpeas and strain off the liquid.
2. In the base of a steamer with a tight fitting lid, heat the olive oil; when warm, add the ras el hanout to infuse for 30 seconds, then pour in the chickpea stock.
3. Add the tomatoes, vegetables, and dried fruits and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Steam the quick couscous, according to package instructions, in a colander over the vegetables, about 15 minutes.
5. After 30 minutes, the vegetables are ready. Add the chopped cilantro and the chickpeas to the vegetables and reheat for a couple of minutes.
6. Pile the hot couscous in a mound in the center of a large serving dish, arrange the fruits and vegetables in the center of the couscous, pour the remaining broth over and serve.