Moroccan Couscous with Winter Squash

Moroccan Couscous with Winter Squash

To celebrate my father’s 70th birthday, I am cooking tons of Moroccan food this month. He is from Morocco, and  immigrated to Brazil when he was a young teenager. I turned to the amazing book Modern Jewish Cooking and found this amazing recipe. Right up our alley!

 

Moroccan Couscous with Winter Squash

Recipe inspired by Leah Koenig’s Modern Jewish Cookbook

 

Serves 6 to 8

 

¼ cup olive oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

One 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 cups (¾ lb) cubed butternut squash

2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

¼ cup golden raisins

2 ½ cups vegetable (or chicken) broth

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 ½ cups water

2 cups Morrocan style couscous

¼ cup freshly chopped parsley

 

  • Prepare the Sofritto: In a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it’s nice and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until softened, about 5 more minutes. add the cinnamon, ginger, cumin, coriander and paprika and cook, stirring often until fragrant.
  • Add the chickpeas, squash, carrots, raisins, broth and 1 teaspoon kosher salt and some twists of pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer over low heat, cover, and cook gently until the vegetables are soft and tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and continue simmering until the mixture thickens slightly, another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  • Cook the Couscous: Meanwhile bring the water to a boil in a separate saucepan over high heat. Once boiling, turn off the heat, add a pinch of kosher salt and the couscous. Cover the pan, set at the back of the stove (off the heat) and let it stand until the couscous absorbs all the liquid, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork. Carefully spoon the couscous onto a large serving platter. Make a well in the center and ladle the vegetable mixture right in the center. Or, you can serve individual portions, but be sure to spoon the liquid of the vegetables as well. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

 

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Brazilian Haroset for Passover

Brazilian Haroset for Passover

 

Brazilian Haroset

Every time I make Jewish food for the Holidays, I think of my Tia (aunt) Sarita who immigrated from Tangier, Morocco to Rio de Janeiro in the 60’s.

Aunt Sarita and me

Aunt Sarita and me

I also think about Brazilian ingredients, the tropical flavors associated with my country, and how Brazilian Jews slowly incorporated that into a new, forming cuisine. Unanimously we think about lime, coconut, mango, papaya, peanuts, cashews and so many other delicious foods. But it took a while until my aunt started using these ingredients in her own cooking.

I called my aunt, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, to chat about Haroset. An animated 82-year old with short cropped black and white hair, my aunt speaks with me in so many languages, shifting from Spanish, French, Haketia (a Sephardic dialect) and Portuguese, as she searches for words to describe the ingredients of Tangier, Rio, and how she creates her recipes.

From left: me, my son Thomas, aunt Sarita, my daughter Bianca Laila and my father Salomon

From left: me, my son Thomas, aunt Sarita, my daughter Bianca Laila and my father Salomon

Her cooking makes me feel at home, with deep roots in Jewish, Spanish, North African and Brazilian culture.

I wanted to come up with a recipe that preserves the apple essence of haroset, but alters the flavor profile with our own tropical twist. I called Tia Sarita to tell her about my idea for a Brazilian Haroset. My first change from the classic was to replace the usual almonds/walnuts with with cashews and peanuts. Not only do they add creaminess to the haroset, but I also love their gentle sweetness and freshness, Brazilian style, of course.

Then I added lime to accentuate the brightness of the apples and spices like coriander and ginger. The banana adds creaminess. The coconut adds nutty flavors, and the wine refreshes everything. The flavors shimmered in my mouth.  This year my aunt is cooking this version of Haroset, and I hope to get good reports from the rest of the family—and from you!

 

Brazilian Haroset

IMG_0106

Makes about 3 Cups

Ingredients:

2 apples, peeled, cored and diced

1 banana, peeled and diced

1/3 cup (40g) peanuts, lightly toasted and chopped finely

1/3 cup cashews (48g), lightly toasted and chopped finely

1/3 cup (18g) coconut chips

1 lime, zested, cut into segments, and diced

1/3 cup Kosher sweet red wine

3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon gound coriender

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

 

Procedure: Combine all the fruits and nuts. Add the lime, wine, honey, spices and mix well using a rubber spatula and folding carefully until fruits and nuts are completely covered. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate to let the flavors marry for a few hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature when ready to serve. Adjust the seasoning, adding more lime, honey and cinnamon if desired.

 

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