B. is pretty serious about this "cooking together" thing - in an attempt to narrow down our recipe searches, he started proposing "theme nights" - we could try different cuisines, different cooking styles (i.e. vegetarian), different ingredients... this sounds like a lot of evenings together; how much does he think I like him, anyway?
So far, I don't think the idea of theme nights has helped because we are as indecisive about what "theme" we should have as we are about what recipes we should make. And often, we only end up just making one recipe anyway, but now that I've said that here, I'm sure it's going to change - yesterday he said, "Maybe we can go out for dinner tomorrow so you have something to write for Calgary is Awesome." (Hehe!)
Last weekend, I ended up suggesting "Moroccan Night" just because I'd been talking to someone about Sultan's Tent and how much I/we would like it. EatingWell has a few recipes that I've recommended to clients before, but it was another one that caught our eye this time.
In this quick stew, cubed pork chops are marinated in a paste made with lemon juice and a load of spices while garlic, onions, carrots, squash, chickpeas and tomatoes simmer on the stove. The pork is quickly browned before adding in the stew to cook through. See? It's easy, so don't be intimidated by the long ingredient list. If you have a bit more time, I'm sure you can marinate some tougher pork cuts ahead of time then brown it a little bit before simmering it in the stew for a more "traditional" way of making it.
We threw in some beet greens just because we had them.
The result is a tangy, spicy (not spicy-hot, but spicy-interesting) stew. Do spend the extra money and pick up some fresh mint, green onion and cilantro for garnish, as they add a cooling, fresh bite. The stew is a little on the thin-side, so it's perfect for pairing with something grainy like couscous, bulgur or rice to soak up all that flavour. B. was pleasantly surprised that couscous is so quick and easy - pour some boiling water (or broth, for extra flavour) over it, cover and wait for about 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. The couscous-to-water ratio should be 1:1, and I think ¼ cup dry couscous per person should be a good amount.
A few minor quibbles about this recipe: 1) Does the pork really need to be in there? I felt that the rough, chewy pork (maybe we overcooked it) was too much of a texture contrast compared to the soft, tender vegetables. I think the stew would be perfectly fine without the pork (you still get protein from the chickpeas) or you can replace it with tofu - perfect swaps for vegans/vegetarians, or people like me, who just like vegetarian food. 2) When I worked out the nutrition info in MacGourmet, it came out with almost triple the amount of sodium that EatingWell came out with! What's going on? If you are watching sodium in your diet, remember to choose pork that hasn't been "seasoned" or "enhanced", which is basically code for "injected with salt water to make it more plump and heavy" and choose the broth with the lowest salt content you can find, or just make the stew with water instead. 3) It asks for partial amounts of canned foods and foods that are hard to measure, like squash. Yes I know you can find frozen, cubed squash these days, but you'd still be left with half a can of chickpeas and diced tomatoes. B. "solved" the problem by making the recipe again this week, and I'm sad to say he didn't save any for me (like I said, the above quibbles are very minor).
Moroccan-Inspired Pork & Vegetable Stew
Adapted from EatingWell
Makes 4 servings, about 1¼ cups each
- 1 large or 2 medium lemons
- 2½ tsp (12 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tsp (10 mL) paprika, preferably Hungarian
- 1 tsp (5 mL) ground turmeric
- 1 tsp (5 mL) ground coriander
- ½ tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
- ½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper
- ¼ tsp plus 1 pinch (1 mL) ground ginger, divided
- 1½ lb (680 g) boneless pork chops, (1 inch thick), trimmed of fat, cut into 1-inch/2.5-cm cubes
- 1 can (14 fl oz/398 mL) reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup (250 mL) butternut squash, diced (½-inch/1-cm dice)*
- 1 cup (250 mL) carrots, sliced (½-inch/1-cm thick)
- 1 cup (250 mL) canned chickpeas, rinsed
- ½ cup (125 mL) onion, chopped
- ½ cup (125 mL) canned diced tomatoes
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) preserved lemon, chopped, rinsed, (optional)**
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) tomato paste
- 2 tsp (10 mL) minced garlic
- ¼ tsp (1 mL) hot sauce, such as Tabasco
- ¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp (1 mL) ground allspice
- Chopped green onion, cilantro and mint, for garnish
*We couldn't find any butternut squash so we replaced it with acorn squash - I think yam/sweet potato would be a good replacement too.
- Zest and juice the lemon(s) to get 1 tablespoon (15 mL) zest and 2 tablespoons (30 mL) juice; reserve the zest. Combine the juice, ½ teaspoon (2 mL) oil, paprika, turmeric, coriander, cumin, pepper and ¼ teaspoon ginger in a medium bowl. Add pork; stir to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
- While pork is marinating, add broth, squash, carrots, chickpeas, onion, tomatoes, preserved lemon (if using), tomato paste, garlic, hot sauce, cinnamon, allspice, the reserved lemon zest and the remaining pinch of ginger to the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
- While vegetable are simmering, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons (10 mL) oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring, until no longer pink on the outside and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat until vegetables are ready, then stir in the pork, return to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the pork is just cooked through, 2 to 5 minutes more.
**We couldn't find any and the stew was great without it.
Nutrition Info (per 1¼ cup serving): 384 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated), 112 mg cholesterol, 33 g carbohydrate (8 g fibre, 5 g sugar), 45 g protein, 578 mg sodium. An excellent source of vitamin A, thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), folate (vitamin B4), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, managanese and selenium. A good source of copper.