Ground Lamb & Butternut Squash Stew with Moroccan Spices

There is nothing more warming on a cold late autumn night than a bowl of hearty stew- a pot of ingredients lovingly stirred and looked out after for hours. This stew, spiced with deep Moroccan flavors, tastes well-developed and warm while the toppings add a bright freshness to the bowl.

One ingredient you may not be familiar with is harissa– well, it is at least new to my repertoire. Harissa is a Moroccan chili paste that is more zingy than spicy hot. It can easily be found at your local grocery store or Whole Foods Market. It adds a beautiful pop when swirled into yogurt and scooped on top of the sweet, sticky stew. Don’t be turned off my the number of ingredients listed here. This is actually a very straight forward recipe that mostly requires time ticking away on the back of the stove.

Ground Lamb & Butternut Squash with Moroccan Spices
serves 4

For the Stew:
extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, peeled & diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled & grated
1 TBL fresh ginger, grated
1 TBL paprika
1 TBL ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
sea salt & cracked pepper to taste
1lb. ground lamb (or ground beef, pork, or dark turkey)
4 sticky prunes, roughly chopped
28oz can of San Marzano plum tomatoes
1 small butternut squash, seeded scooped out & diced
1 bunch cilantro, leaves roughly chopped

For the Harissa Yogurt:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 0% fat)
1 TBL harrisa
1 TBL freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, grated

Additional Toppings:
lemon wedges
slices of ripe avocado
finely chopped red onion
really good extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt & cracked pepper to taste

  1. Turn a large heavy stock pot onto medium heat and add a good glug of olive oil. Add the onions and cook for about 8-10 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic, ginger, spices, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook for another 3 minutes; stirring frequently because you don’t want the garlic to burn.
  2. Add the ground lamb (or meat of your choice), and cook for 6-7 minutes until cooked through. Stir in the prunes and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, or tin foil, reduce to a simmer and let it tick away for 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the butternut squash, cover, and cook for another 1 1/2; stirring occasionally.
  4. When its done, take the lid off and let it cool down for about 15 minutes. Add seasoning if necessary and stir in a good handful of the cilantro.
  5. Make the harissa yogurt by whisking the ingredients in a small bowl.
  6. Serve the stew on the bottom of individual large bowls, top with a little more cilantro, chopped red onion, slices of avocado, a scoop of harissa yogurt, a final pinch of salt & pepper, a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Moroccan Stew


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