squash and chickpea moroccan stew

Our first night in Paris in October, we had dinner at a great, inexpensive Moroccan restaurant in the 3ème called Chez Omar. The specialty is couscous, and the various stews you ladle over it. Alex had the chicken, I had the vegetables, but I hear we really missed out on the Royal, which is a big mess of meat. Served family style, the food was unpretentious, light and so healthy, I made a mental bookmark to try my hand at it when I got home.

chickpea squash stew mise

Which, being me, I promptly forgot about. What jogged my memory was a version of a Moroccan vegetable stew on Ask Aida on the Food Network last week. I think that Moroccan cooking can be intimidating: I don’t have a 1 3/4-Quart Le Crueset Cast Iron Moroccan Tagine in Caribbean Blue for the low price of $200, nor do I have one I picked up for $2.95 at the central souk in Marrakesh in 1968. (Okay, I wasn’t even alive in 1968 but for some reason, everyone but me seems to have a story about something fabulous they bought there when backpacking across the world and I am jealous.) I also don’t have a couscousier, yet astoundingly, I was able to pull off this squash and chickpea stew for dinner on Sunday, and it was delicious.

stew, simmering

This is the kind of food that’s perfect for this time of year. The ingredients are fairly simple — and the harder-to-find ones, like saffron and preserved lemons are optional — the dish is incredibly healthy and it’s a nice healthy break from the heavier stews and soups that usually get us through the cold winters.

squash and chickpea moroccan stew

One year ago: Goulash
Two years ago: World Peace Cookies

Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew
Adapted from Aida Mollencamp

So, about those preserved lemons: This isn’t the first Moroccan dish I’ve made, but I’ve always been on the fence about the inclusion of preserved lemons. What if I searched all over town for them and ended up dropping $10 on something I hated. Would I like salt-pickled lemons? This time, I took the plunge (found them at Garden of Eden, for you New Yorkers, gourmet/specialty shops for everyone else or you can try Elise’s homemade recipe) and well: I think they’re an acquired taste that I haven’t acquired yet, but hope to. Yet they were wonderfully fragrant in the dish and if you’re looking to try out something new, or if you’re already smitten with them, go for it.

To veganize this, replace the butter with additional olive oil, use vegetable broth and skip the yogurt.

Serves 6 to 8

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound butternut squash, large dice
3/4 pound red potatoes, large dice
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
Pinch saffron threads (optional)
1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
1 cup brined green olives (Aida recommended Cerignola)
Steamed couscous, for serving (directions here and elsewhere on the web)
Fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, for garnish
Toasted slivered almonds, for garnish
Plain yogurt, for garnish
Hot sauce of your choice (for serving)

Heat butter and olive oil in a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight fitting lid over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add onion, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spices are aromatic and onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add squash and potatoes, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, stir to coat, and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes and their juices, and saffron, if using. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until squash is fork tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in preserved lemon and olives. Serve over couscous garnished with cilantro, almonds, and yogurt.

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214 comments on squash and chickpea moroccan stew

  1. This looks great, just the kind of recipe I’m looking for in my New Year’s weight-loss quest. (No diets, I totally dig the overall philosophy here.) I might try this substituting chicken for the potatoes, not as much to decrease carbs/increase protein as because I’m not a big fan of potatoes like this.

  2. oh my, i LIVE for moroccan food – this is definitely going into the menu bank for another weeknight moroccan fantasy (i wonder if my fiance is sick of it by now?… oh well!)

  3. Yum. I’m printing this out. It sounds too good (and easy!) to be true, but I trust you. My mom actually makes preserved lemons and it’s pretty easy. I’m still acquiring a taste for them, though.

  4. Oh this is perfect! I’m making salt-cured lemons tonight from a bounty of Meyer lemons. I had planned to make a chicken olive tagine, but needed another recipe to try with the lemons. The ingredients in this one look right up my alley.

  5. Ever since I made Tyler Florence’s moroccan brick chicken with the couscous pilaf and yogurt mint sauce I have been obsessing over Moroccan food. Looks delicious!

  6. Liz

    Looks delish! I’m not as good about getting my vegetables as I should be, and always cop out and make pasta whenever we have vegetarian friends over for dinner. But this… mmm… looks tasty.

  7. I laughed when I read, “well: I think they’re an acquired taste that I haven’t acquired yet.” When I lived in Egypt, these were served like pickles on the side of meals sometimes, and well in a year I never got around to “acquiring” the taste, although I bet they taste better as part of dish.

  8. Jen

    My husband and I honeymooned in Morocco and were lucky enough to take a cooking lesson while there. They showed us an important, but often not mentioned step in cooking with preserved lemons: you don’t put the peel in with the food.

    We were taught to scrape the salty pulp off the softened rind and chop that up for use in the tajine. We cut up the peel as a garnish.

    On the off chance that you, or any other readers weren’t aware – hope that helps make the lemons a bit more palateable!

  9. Jocelyn

    We’ve been to Chez Omar! We had a great meal there, too, although the b’stilla was a little *too* authentic for me. I’ll stick to the Americanized chicken versions :-).

  10. Graciela

    I’m definitely making this. Though I have no idea where to find preserved lemon and I just can’t afford to buy saffron.

  11. I can’t wait to try this! We LOVE Moroccan food. BTW, I saw preserved lemons at the olive bar at Whole Foods recently. Thanks for a healthy recipe that looks easy and delicious!

  12. Ooh, this sounds good. I made a similar soup a couple of years ago, based on a recipe from a Wegman’s circular my grandmother sent me (I can’t believe I still remember that), but it was missing something. Looking at this, I think it was missing a bed of couscous and olives/lemon to tart it up.

  13. This sounds terrific. Moroccan food is one of my favorites (and yes, I visited Morocco in 1994, where I acquired a bunch of cool stuff, most of which broke on the trip home). Preserved lemons to me are one of those ingredients like fish sauce which are hideous on their own but become delicious as part of a dish. They’re really easy to make too – I wait until lemons in a bag go on sale and I make a big jar – and keep pretty much forever. Can’t wait to try this dish.

  14. I love chickpeas (as my blog’s name shows) and this recipe sounds so delicious. I make a similar stew ladled over couscous, but it’s mainly roasted vegetables in a spicy tomato broth. I’ve never added chickpeas or potatoes. Looks like that is about to change. Thanks for the idea!

  15. Susan

    This looks delicious and perfect for those times you want to skip the meat. Thanks for trying your hand at this for us, Deb. You know, I always wonder at the use of preserved foods in a dish and think that the cook might have used fresh if it had been available. Could this be one of those occasions, maybe? Fresh zest seems like it would be better.

  16. Kim

    PLEASE make your own preserved lemons rather than spending $10 on a tiny jar. So simple and you’ll feel better about yourself for days after.

  17. Have you been reading my diary? haha

    You took the words right out of my mouth when it comes to Moroccan cooking. I love it but I always feel so…underprepared? I also saw this Ask Aida episode and immediately looked up the recipe. I was delighted to see it here today, and glad to hear it was as easy as it looked.

    I’m dying to try it now — though still on the fence about the preserved lemon. Hmmm.

  18. You know, I have one of those Le Creuset tagines — someone gave it to me as a gift. And as much as it pains me to say that I do not like a particular piece of cookware — especially one that is coated in lovely kiwi green enamel — I don’t really like it. Its capacity is very limited, and every time I attempt to make something in it I have to halve the recipe or it will overflow. And it doesn’t seem to do anything that a Dutch oven can’t do better. And…its awkward shape makes it almost impossible to store.

    Just wanted you to know you’re not missing out. Because I’m sure you were losing sleep over this.

  19. oh WOW. I was looking for something warm to make for dinner (we’re getting hammered with freezing rain in NJ today) and this looked interesting. I just cooked it up, and it’s fantastic! I think it’s definitely going to disappear from the table pretty quickly. Delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  20. deb

    Jen — So funny you mention that! When I was writing this post I looked up an old recipe I used to make involving preserved lemon (though I never used it) and it suggested exactly that — chopping the pulp and squeezing the juice. I immediately showed Alex and we agreed we may have liked the flavor a lot more if we weren’t expected to eat bits of rind. I mean, I like salt. I like lemon. It should have gone better than it did.

    Leslie — !! We had gone there first and they told us they no longer had them, blah blah so we went to another store. We were tired and it was cold and my hair was wet (post-gym) and Alex totally gave me this “how many stores are we going to for an ingredient you’re not even sure you like?” look.

  21. So…if we can’t find or preserve our own lemons fast enough, should we use a regular one? This looks phenomenal and I don’t think I can wait 3 weeks. Sorry if you addressed it and I missed it, there’s chaos around here as I search for dinner recipes.

  22. deb

    I hadn’t even considered substitutions. Preserved lemons are really just salt and lemon — the pickling changes the flavor profile, though. I’d say use fresh lemon juice and lemon zest and maybe a little extra salt.

  23. Donna

    That’s so funny – I went to Central Market last night (which is kind of like a Texas based Whole Foods – only more emphasis on gourmet findings and less on healthy options) and saw preserved lemons in the salad bar area. I actually discussed it with my husband last night about how excited I was to have access to such an array of unusual ingredients within walking distance from our house and expressed a wish to make something with them. Thanks Fairy Godmother Deb for a delicious sounding recipe! :)

  24. Emma

    I can count at least six things in this recipe that I shun regularly, but my gosh the PICTURES just make it look so tasty!!
    and may I say that the topic index, which I just discovered, is one of my favorite things ever?

  25. Nicole M

    Ooh I’ve wanted to try my hand at Moroccan dishes for a while but didn’t know where to start. I think it’s the use of spices normally reserved for desserts like cinnamon that got me interested.

    And what is a couscousier? In the words of Alton Brown it sounds like a uni-tasker and has no business taking up valuable kitchen space lol

  26. This looks absolutely delicious! I don’t have much experience with Moroccan dishes, but this makes me drool. I love how couscous can become something very different, depending on the type of sauce and ingredients you add to it. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I’ll give it a go!

  27. sabe

    this certainly looks yummy! i made my own preserved lemons a couple of years ago when a friend gave me a surplus of meyers lemons. i loved having them on hand and discovered lots of uses for them. i used them a lot in tabouli and salad dressings, they add such a wonderful salty lemony kick. i try to make some every summer now and much prefer my tabouli with them. now that you have a jar, what else are you going to try them with?

  28. Dwilah

    This looks and sounds just like the kind of food I wish I liked. My taste buds are in the process of changing, so over the past few years I suddenly started liking things like cabbage and Brussels sprouts and spinach and blueberries, even. I was just discussing chick peas with my friend today and how I still don’t like them. I hope, like with those other foods I mentioned, I will just wake up one day and crave cous cous and veggie stew. Anyway, your blog is still interesting enough to keep me reading even when I spy something I know I probably couldn’t enjoy fully. Kudos!

  29. This dish looks interesting- I have no experience with Moroccan cuisine of any sort. It looks really healthy- with all the different colors, but I think dicing that butternut squash is just too much work! Good work.

  30. This looks delicious and I love that it’s so colorful and healthy. The flavors remind me of a moroccan lamb stew I made a little while ago but since I’m not actually that fond of lamb I am really excited to try this.

  31. oh man, I would totally be doing this right now if we had any couscous…or squash…or good olives. You are making my mouth water! I will have to try it as soon as I find the requisite business.

  32. Vince

    I wanted to second what Dianne had mentioned earlier regarding the Tagine/Dutch Oven match-up. I recall a Cook’s Illustrated equipment test on Tagines from a while back (I’ve forgotten which issue) and the gist of their recommendation was that a good quality heavy weight Dutch Oven worked as well as or better then the Le Crueset or other terra cotta tagines they tried out. And if Cook’s publishes it, it must be true (although I’m with you on the not using vodka in the pie dough – much better without!).

  33. Victoria

    Mmm, I made this with diced pumpkin I had in my freezer (I came into possession of a VERY large eating pumpkin in the fall) and it was incredible! I skipped the preserved lemons, but didn’t even miss them. And I couldn’t believe how quick it was – we ended up leaving it on a warm burner while waiting for a friend to arrive, but it’s easily a half hour meal that tastes like it took far longer.

  34. Do you think you can sub something else for the chickpeas? Because I love the idea of this, and I love couscous, but my husband grew up with hippie parents and consequentially will not touch a chickpea ever. Hates them violently. Though, now that I think about it, he hates squash, too. So I guess this is one for just me, and I’m making it sometime soon and he and the boyo can have pizza or something. It sounds freaking fabulous!

  35. I believe this is great. I tried, for an African themed family movie night a while ago (The Lion King) a Morrocan chickpea stew & a Chicken-Tomato-Sweet potato thing that was incredible. I have the recipe somewhere. Enormous hit with the kids, surprisingly, & not sure why I haven’t made it again. Thanks for reminding & a new recipe!

  36. I love both couscous and tagines and living in France we have it on all sides. But I have taken to making a simple, hearty version at least once every two weeks during the winter months (I even have it posted on my blog!) and I make enough that it lasts for 3 nights! But as far as the preserved lemons and olives you add here, they find their way into my husband’s tagine, either with chicken or fish – which he makes in our cheap ceramic tagine. When I make a tagine, it is invariably sweet – usually lamb, prunes, almonds and honey. Moroccan cooking is fabulous for a winter meal. Love it!

  37. Rachel M

    What do you think would be the best (and maybe easiest) way to add some protein to this dish? I think it would be wonderful with some lamb or chicken – but how would you suggest incorporating it?


  38. Preethi

    Thanks for the fabulous idea. There are several wonderful Moroccan restaurants here in Philadelphia but I’ve never considered making it at home. One question – do you think it would work to substitute a couple of fresh tomatoes for the diced canned ones?

  39. Vanessa

    How is steamed couscous different from the pouring- boiling- liquid -and -letting- it steep -until -all -the-liquid -is- absorbed method?

  40. Molly

    Yum, I am going to make this. It reminds me of a much more refined version of the “slop” we used to cook on Fairmont Street…heeeehehe

    BTW I am SO GLAD you’re coming to Highlands! And guess what! BOTH doggies will be there!

  41. Forget Garden of Eden stop by a middle eastern store, local Brooklyn’ers or New Yorkers try A&D Turkish halal meat market they sell the for $2.99 for a small and $3.99 for a large bottle!

    $10 buck they got to be kidding me!

    I love this dish I make it often actually my Morrocon neighbor taught me.

    Aysegul – NYDELIGHT

  42. I’ve done a few variations on this dish and simply used regular lemons, adding a few pieces of rind into the cooking to give it a nice little hint of lemon-y goodness. This is quickly reminding me that I have yet to do a stew like this yet this cold winter. Must change that!

  43. It seems like everyone is starting to eat up their squash. This recipe sounds fantastic! I’m partial to pureed squash soups, but this looks delightful.

  44. wookie

    If one were allergic to cumin, what would an alternative spice be? The ingredients are not ones I use often in cooking so I’m at a bit of a loss. I’ve only ever used cinnamon in sweet things so I’m not sure what to pair it with for savoury… paprika? nutmeg?

  45. About preserved lemons–if you don’t want to shell out tons for premade, Deborah Madison’s _Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone_ has a simple recipe for making your own.

  46. deb

    Hi Vanessa — Steamed couscous is supposed to come out fluffier. Also, it is supposed to be the “authentic” way to make it. I did notice the difference when we were in Paris — the couscous was lighter than any I’d had before. Alas, I did not plan far enough ahead to steam it for this dish.

    Wookie — I’d suggest a mix of ground coriander and maybe ground caraway seeds. It’s not the same, but the profile will have some similarities.

  47. prklypr

    This recipe looks fabulous and I”m dying to try it – but what’s up with the steamed couscous? Is it so much better than the instant kind? I just looked at Alton Brown’s recipe in your link and it has like 10 steps! What are we really getting out of the steaming method (other than authenticity)?

  48. Jen

    We made this last night over quinoa instead of couscous…it was/is delicious! Preserved lemons are my new favourite thing, I think!

  49. Rach

    If you go to Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn (near Flatbush Ave sort of…near the Atlantic Center) there are several little Middle Eastern grocery stores that carry preserved lemons. They’re SUPER cheap. They also carry other things that I have a hard time finding (or paying lots for) like rose water and orange blossom water. Not to mention the huge vats of nuts and things for great prices!

  50. Those colors look wonderful enough to make me want that.. but it is those spices and flavorings that are calling to me right now, they are so alluring! We had some friends where we used to live who had a Moroccan restaurant, they were so hospitable and treated us like family and insisted that we eat there often. It was my immense pleasure to oblige them! :) I love your dish.. and that beautiful blue dutch oven!

  51. Susan

    David Lebovitz has a recipe for Morrocan Preserved Lemons on his site. He gives the option of incorporating the cinnamon stick and spices into the lemons. They look really good and easy.

  52. Elise

    This was a pleasure to read about and brought me back to my childhood. My dad is from North Africa and my mom learned a bunch of the recipes from my dad’s mom. We grew up eating stuff like this all the time. It is so delicious and heart-warming. I still need to get my husband (who does the vast majority of the cooking in our household) to learn to do some of this stuff.

  53. deb

    Joy — You’re cute. I do think that if you’re going to paint your nails, it may as well be red. But most of the time, they last about 24 hours before looking trashed, or trashy, which, you know, has it’s own merits.

  54. To #15, Graciela:

    I avoided dishes made with saffron for a long time, because I couldn’t find it for a decent price. If you have a Trader Joe’s around, you can find it there for less than most other places. I bought some when I was passing through and didn’t use it until several months later, and it was still fantastic. Also, if you have a Cost Plus World Market in your area, I just saw some in their store-brand spice area for $3.99.

  55. Yum, this looks terrific! And I don’t have $200 le creuset or cool cookware I picked up backpacking, either. Did you see Mark Bittman’s kitchen photo in the NYT a few weeks back? it’s tiny… and I am really glad that he and you both emphasize it’s possible to turn out delish and photo-op-worthy meals without going into debt for the tools. Talent (which you have in spades) is clearly what it’s all about.

  56. viscult

    One of the things that I learned from North African friends was to either mince the onion very small, or to grate by hand (not by food processor-that results in very watery onions that steam, rather than saute in t he oil). I find that this technique adds a remarkable different flavor and texture to the broth/gracythat is unmistakably North African.

    To number 52, as the dish has chickpeas and is served with a grain, it has complete proteins, already. When I want to add animal-based protein, I often broil or roast chicken thighs at high heat, marinated in lemon juice, olive ol and honey, and serve with the “stew” over it. You can also just dump boneless breast or thighs at the end, and cook through–this is such a brothy stew that it would work fine, I think.

  57. That looks REALLY really good. And I think we even have all the ingredients to this soup in the kitchen but for the preserved lemons. Probably I’d just put in regular chopped lemons, but I am not sure how that would alter the taste. I am craving something with lemon though. I’ve been thinking along the lines of a a lemon tart or even lemonade but this would work equally well. I’m going to browse through your archives for collard recipes in just a moment– Momma got some this week and made a tasteless uninspiring soup with them but there are still leftover collards in the fridge. Hopefully I’ll find something interesting, but this blog my first place to search. :-)

  58. You must must must check out Garrett McCord’s The Traveling Tajine Project on and you can have a lovely tangine for a few days to try out another Moroccan recipe in!!
    I’m a relatively new visitor to your site and love, love, love it you have some amazing photos and fabulous recipes Thanks for some great inspiration!!

  59. Lindsey

    Deb writes:

    nor do I have one I picked up for $2.95 at the central souk in Marrakesh in 1968. (Okay, I wasn’t even alive in 1968 but for some reason, everyone but me seems to have a story about something fabulous they bought there when backpacking across the world and I am jealous.)

    I totally relate!

    P.S. I am a huge chickpea fan- the perfect legume.

  60. Kate

    Made this for dinner tonight. I substituted cauliflower for the potatoes. It was great! I am going to up the cumin, cinnamon by half the next time around. Didn’t use the yogurt this time because I thought the flavors were little too mild to support the dairy dilution. But, the olives and cilantro and toasted almonds were wonderful additions. Thanks for yet another great recipe. Went to post this and see the rice pudding…. sheesh, back to the kitchen! ;)

  61. ann

    Must be something in the air, I made a squash couscous on Saturday night, in my couscousiere. You know, that thing is so versatile! Seriously, I use it a couple times of month for so many things. I never would have thought it would be that way :-)

  62. Lisa

    I’m a longtime reader, but first time commenter. Deb, I love your site!
    I also love Moroccon food and made this dish the other night right after seeing it posted here. I didn’t use lemons, but I did add golden raisins, which I thought went with the flavor of the dish really well.

  63. Ariella

    Made this for dinner last night. Substituted cornichons, lemon juice and capers for the preserved lemon (I actually like it, but didn’t have any) and it turned out pretty well. I would like it spicier, so I think I am going to double the cumin and add some hot pepper flakes at the beginning. Otherwise, loved it and will definitely make again. Served w/ whole wheat couscous, whole milk yogurt, toasted almonds and made almond biscotti for dessert.

  64. Carla Hinkle

    I made this, and it was very tasty, but I had some other kind of (mystery) squash from my CSA box, and it took FOREVER to cook. Like, 40 minutes for the squash to get soft. Really made it tasty, though.

  65. Caitlin

    I made this for dinner on Sunday night and it was super yummo!
    My neighbour, who had lived in Morocco for many years, came over for dinner and gave it a resounding thumbs up and said it tasted just as it should.
    She was very generous and gave me a preserved lemon she had made herself from a recipe her mother in law in Morocco taught her. She said that the store bought variety recommended is not good and that it was really worth it to make your own. Im not sure if it was mentioned, but my neighbour said to scrape all the insides of the lemon away and discard it and then to mince the peel – super super fine, otherwise the flavour is too intense. So doing all of this it was just divine. I am going to make another batch to use up the other half of the preserved lemon :)

  66. pam

    made this last night and loved it! didn’t have the lemons but the dish was still great. Used Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend for the couscous (Israeli couscous…where have you been all my life?!?) and definitely plan to make it again! thanks, deb!

  67. Donna Sue

    I made this a few days ago and it was so delicious. Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe. I added cubed, seared chicken to the mix and let it braise (for my Alex who says he likes vegetarian meals but always asks where the meat is when I make one) — it was a nice addition. I also followed the advice in the comments and didn’t use the pith of the preserved lemon — that small tanginess made such a difference.
    I can’t wait to read your article in February’s Living! :)

  68. Jamie

    mmmmm….we made this the other night and it was delicious!! i loved how the flavor of the green olives mixed with the dish. i also threw in a couple of fresh lemon slices at the end, and they added a nice flavor. the best part was the leftovers, enough for a few lunches!!

  69. Tonia

    After more than a week of fog and clouds in central Washington state this stew was like sunshine on a plate! Loved the combination of cumin and cinnamon; didn’t have preserved lemons, so just put half of a small lemon in with the stock/tomatoes. Yummy — thanks Deb for the wonder recipes!

  70. sabrina

    i had to write in because i am eating leftovers now, for lunch… it is totally divine!

    i used crushed tomatoes and they were more like a puree – so my stew was (of course) uglier than deb’s. i am loving the preserved lemon – and i used the whole thing, so others don’t necessarily need to fret about taking the peel off. next time I will dice the squash and potato smaller so that it cooks faster, and may halve the olives so you can get them in more bites.

  71. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. i love that it’s both fresh AND hearty – a delicious contradiction! my one-year-old kept saying, “mmm mama” and my soup-and-stew-detesting hubby loved it. can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow!

  72. Lara

    I made this with my Valentine this year and it was so much fun to cook and eat. Tasty, filling, and gentle on the tummy. Terrific! Thank you.

  73. Jane

    What a wonderful dish this turned out to be! So healthy, colorful and tasty. I added 1 inch diced red bell pepper as well as a teaspoon of garam masala. I didn’t use the preserved lemons, but I don’t think it was missed at all. The saffron however, provided a much needed flavor boost. Served with a spicy Malbec.

  74. I made this the next day after you posted it, and I loved it!!! Though I tried it with quinoa instead of couscous since my husband must be gluten free – substituting in the quinoa worked great however, and so this recipe was easily adaptable and VERY tasty :) Thanks so much for posting this!

  75. Susanna

    Long time lurker, first time poster. I made this over the weekend and it was wonderful: tasty, nutritious, and plentiful enough to feed myself, my roommate and a friend plus a couple of lunches made from left overs. Thank you for sharing your cooking. I also made the lemon squares for a New Year’s party and they were (of course) a hit. Your blog is beautiful and also useful–a rare find. Good luck with your move, and Chag Semach!

  76. Sheila

    After procrastinating making this for months, I made this AND the preserved lemons. Although I put the lemons in the cooking phase (whoops), it turned out great. Wonderful recipe.

  77. MM I just made this tonight for dinner while looking for recipes with squash as an ingredient (I ended up buying lots of squash at the farmers market to have some culinary adventures they are locally gronw for fall ~ yet I never used squash!!)

    I’m totally a beginner domestically challenged cook who’s trying to learn how to cook lol. I had all the ingredients needed for this (except lemons and saffron) so I went ahead at it really nervous the whole time! It came out soo amazing, and I will adds this on my (very short) list of dishes I can make that taste really good for future cooking. Thank you for the recipe!

  78. Amanda

    I also got my olives from the Whole Foods olive bar, but my Whole Foods has slotted spoons at their olive bar, so I didn’t get as much brine as I wanted, try as I might. I even went to the slightly gross lengths of dipping the container into the olive tray. What was your secret? Does your Whole Foods have the better sense to include unslatted spoons, or did you dip like I did and do a more thorough job? Or did you…ask someone at the store to help you get more brine?! I must know!

    Either way, I love this recipe; thanks so much for sharing.

  79. Kila

    YUM. I made this last night because I have tons of squash, though simplified a great deal for lack of all the ingredients making your recipe a dish (lemon, saffron, etc). I used diced carrots and Fuji apples instead of potatoes. I was hesitant about the apples, but I had some chopped apples in the fridge (I am one of those freaks who chops/preps fruits and vegetables straight from the grocery store) — and I’m so happy I used them! The cooked apples countered the spicy/savory stew with a delightful slight sweetness.

    PS – I have been reading your blog for a few weeks but this is my first comment. I must say I am ADDICTED to your site and I could click “Surprise Me” for hours. You are a very talented photographer!

  80. Hello! I tried this recipe because I received a windfall of saffron that I wanted to use and I love this kind of food. Thank you for the recipe and for your lovely blog. I did not find any squash in my local store at the time of year I wanted to make the dish, and so I substituted pumpkin puree (it was the closest thing available). I also added one large carrot. It turned out great! I have heard that with saffron the best thing to do to get all the flavor is to grind the threads in a mortar and then put them in a little bit of water. Then you use the yellow/orange liquid whenever a recipe calls for saffron. For example – I added some in the water I used to make the couscous. Works well. Thank you again!

  81. Another winner! I did not have almonds so I substituted green pumpkin seeds- not bad… but almonds I think would have been even better. Oh, and I also did not have saffron, so I tried tumeric for color which was quite nice. Thank you for another delicious and easy recipe.

  82. April

    Very tasty…and glad of it since I made a double recipe because I have a slew of white pumpkin that needed used. I like the white pumpkin because it’s not quite as sweet as some other winter squashes. Thanks again for a great recipe…and like the smittenkitchen chef, we are always looking for something new even though we have so many fantastic recipes on file but I hope this makes it to the table again. :-)

  83. Ranjani

    In reference to #13 and #30 — interestingly, all the Moroccon recipes I have made have instructed me to use *only* the lemon peel and discard the pulp. I made my own preserved lemons from the recipe in the Gourmet cookbook, and I thought the peel was delicious!

  84. Jenan

    I tried this tonight, and it was delicious! I didn’t have any butternut squash, so i used Zucchini instead, and it still tasted great! I’m a new fan, and I really appreciate your cooking :)

  85. I have made my own preserved lemons before, and it really is easy, but I have another idea: try finding Pereg brand “Spicy Pickled Lemon” or “Baladi Lemon.” This is a kind of preserved lemon chutney. It is made with chopped preserved lemons, spices, I think also oil, and I’m not sure what else. It comes in a small jar and add tremendous flavor to dishes that call for preserved lemon. I used it in this dish (and also that Israeli couscous dish with roasted butternut squash). BTW, I also added in some hawaij spice and a little amba spice. Very good . . . And chickpea stews are great served over couscous that has been seasoned with lemon, olive oil, a bit of curry powder, allspice, golden raisins or craisins, scallions, and toasted almonds. Leftovers of this couscous make a great salad.

  86. Tracey

    I’ve recently fallen in love with quinoa! I’ve tried muffins with dried fruit, I’ve had it instead of couscous etc. I’d love to try it when making cakes, pies, tarts, etc. Unless I’ve missed it, I don’t see any recipes you’ve tried using this grain or its flour. I would really like it if you could do a few desserts using this grain or its flour. You have a great way of making me interested in your recipes and I’d love to see you work with quinoa.

  87. Lauren

    Made this tonight but didn’t have olives, preserved lemons, or saffron… tasted a little bland, so I finished it off with a big splash of pomegranate balsamic vinegar, which turned out to be delicious! Loved it with a dollop of greek yogurt and cilantro over couscous.

  88. Diane

    I have made this three times already! Subbed sweet potatoes for white potatoes. Always make my own chickpeas, never canned. Added some raisins. Served over brown rice. Amazing! Thank you!

  89. Hayley

    i’ve just made this and ate a huge portion right away. This is just SO good – the spices work really well, the olives and lemon slices inject little bursts of acidity, the yogurt add a touch of freshness.. absolutely perfect for a cold autumn night :)

    * what was different : no saffron, no cilantro, added 1 cubed chicken breast and 1 cubed green bell pepper (both enhanced the stew imho), and had thinly sliced lemon wedges instead of the recommended preserved lemons.

  90. Kyra

    Made this recipe for a group (meat-eaters and veggies) and everyone loved it! I didn’t have saffron, cumin or preserved lemon but added curry powder, a little apple juice and served it with a scoop of greek yogurt on top. Delicious! I am adding this to my list of regular dishes. Thank you!

  91. Rebecca

    I tried this tonight – minus the lemon. It is one of the best meals I’ve ever made. I added portobello mushrooms because I love them. It is a rich flavourful stew. I will definitely make it again.

  92. Megan

    I made this recipe last night for the first time. As per usual, I waited until the last minute to go grocery shopping for the ingredients, so I was unable to find brined green olives or preserved lemons at the last minute, but I substituted regular canned green olives and capers (per one of these comment’s suggestions). The meal turned out FABULOUS! I cooked it for my parents and myself; they loved it too. They live in 4,000 ft altitude, and I had to cook the potatoes and squash in the microwave for a few minutes before adding the broth, etc (15 minutes + in the pan didn’t do the trick in the high altitude).

    I’ll definitely be making this dish again! Thanks so much for sharing!

  93. I didn’t have the lemon so I tossed in a handfull of dried black currents. It added a nice sweet juxtaposition to the salty olives. Thanks for all your lovely recipes!

  94. Paige

    I made this last night for dinner and my husband and I both loved it! The lemons, olives, almonds, and cilantro were the perfect garnishes. Yum! I will definetely make this one again.

  95. Hill

    Hello! Random question – if I already have a dutch oven, would you recommend getting a tajine? I’m interested in cooking more Middle Eastern food.


  96. Janene

    I just made this. I was a little worried that there would be little taste because I am so used to cooking Indian, but it was incredible. I did however use three teaspoons of cumin at the beginning and ended up adding chili flakes at the end. I diced some golden raisons in my couscous with cilantro and almonds. I also substituted the potatoes for eggplant and it turned out great! So good, thank you for this!

  97. Katie

    Wow. My first stab at cooking Moroccan and I will do it again! This recipe was great. I like a bit more spice/flavor in my dishes, so I added some red and white pepper, a little curry powder, and a bit more cumin. I also added mushrooms and a zucchini. It is such a colorful dish. I highly recommend adding cilantro, sliced almonds, and a bit of cinnamon to your couscous. It makes the stew even more delicious!

  98. Big Sky Ski Mom

    Reason to follow a recipe and not go on a crazy, custom tangent #211: adding more red potatoes than the recipe calls for soaks up the amazing juices and turns a stew into a glorp. Still, the glorp got ten stars from my husband and kids tonight. Also added yellow curry, more cumin, and carrots. Excellent recipe and will make many times this snow-decked season!

  99. Emily

    Mmmmm, wow this is really a great recipe! I’m not great at following recipes to the tee and did not use the preserved lemon but squeezed fresh in at the end. And I used kalmata olives instead. I also used sweet potatoes instead of red, carrots, kale and chicken. So good, my family loved it and I can’t wait to cook it again! Thanks!

  100. Denise

    I love this. Instead of preserved lemons, I added vegetable peeler-generated strips of lemon peel at the beginning. It was tangy and good, and went well with the spices, but not as jarring as preserved lemon.

  101. Beth

    Any ideas on how to make this recipe for a family of olive-haters? I think they’ll love all the ingredients, but olives are the one food none of us can stand. I’m worried the stew will be a little bland without them, though… any thoughts?

  102. Hilary

    The stew was delicious, although I made it without the saffron and definitely would add that in next time. And it actually took about 20-30 more minutes to cook than the 10 cited in the recipe.

  103. Lizzy

    I have made this a many times now and love it. Thank you so much. I use it for the base of any tangine I make…lamb, chicken, whatever. The flavor is the best I have ever made and I have tried many.
    On a side this made me fall in love with preserved lemons. I now use them in martinis instead of olive or lemon twist…the best.

  104. Katie

    I love this! I found preserved lemons at whole foods, it was $3.50 for 2 lemons- maybe they make them in house?

  105. Eliza

    I made so many changes that it’s hard to comment, but… I used pumpkin, lentils instead of cous cous, and skipped the potatoes, lemon and olives. It’s a great soup enjoyed by a 5 year old, 8 year old and parents too on the first Fall feeling day! Thanks!

  106. Megan

    Oh delicious! I just made this for dinner tonight – we decided to do a meatless Monday kind of thing. I couldn’t find any butternut squash at my supermarket so I used sweet potatoes instead (and omitted the regular potatoes) and added about a half cup of dried apricots along with the tomatoes to give it a bit of a sweet pop! So good.

  107. Serious yum! I made this for dinner last night, but exchanged the butternut squash for carrots (and beefed up the potato portion). We’re not big squash eaters, and I was scared the carrots wouldn’t work well, but they really did. Just needed to cook the carrots and potatoes a bit longer before adding the other ingredients, so the carrots had time to soften.

    Also, I left out the lemon, saffron, cinnamon stick, and garnishes as I didn’t have them in the house and didn’t care to spend the money. Sprinkled a TINY bit of cinnamon in to finish. So delicious!

  108. Charise

    This was amazing! I made it exactly as written, even using the saffron and preserved lemons, for a dinner party. It was a HUGE hit. You’ve never let me down, Deb. Thank you!

  109. Angela

    I am soooooo excited on finding this recipe… I am a huge fan of Chez Omar – one of my favorite restaurants in Paris… I will make this recipe this coming weekend…and I WILL use the preserved lemons… Thank you!

  110. Lisa M.

    I just made this last night. I don’t have access to the preserved lemons (which I actually do have a taste for!) so I diced half a lemon (minus seeds) extremely finely and mixed it, juice and all with some salt — I didn’t measure how much, maybe 1/4 tsp. maybe 1/2 — and let it sit while I made the rest of the recipe. (It tasted briny but not ridiculously salty.) That was just enough to add some brightness to the dish. In fact, I would say without the briny lemon and the cilantro the dish is just okay. With them, it was awesome.

  111. Katharine

    I got a real, Le Creuset tagine dish for Mother’s Day (cost split four ways by my four daughters)! I decided to christen it with a vegetarian tagine to welcome my youngest daughter home from her college graduation. Imagine my delight when I found this recipe on her favorite cooking blog! (Plus her older sister lives in Paris and next time we visit we can check out the Moroccan place you reference. Score again!) I added the juice and zest of one lemon (instead of preserved lemon), a little ground coriander, 3 tsp of harissa paste (bought in Paris and was looking for ways to use it) , and a little zucchini for some green color. I added about 8 whole dried apricots – and the surprise sweet taste was delightful – and served with olives on the side. Love the way the couscous soaks up the flavorful sauce. Very very yummy! Thank you, Deb!

  112. Lyn

    Made this stew for my family visiting for the holidays. Loved it! Just noticed that Molly Katzen’s new cookbook, The Heart of The Plate, has a recipe for preserved lemons. Have to try that! Thanks for your blog. Good new year to you and yours.

  113. Kate

    Delicious! Next time I make it, I will probably up the amount of cumin (with the brininess of the preserved lemon and olives, I didn’t think I could taste the cumin well enough), but otherwise a picture-perfect addition to my rotation. Thanks, Deb!

  114. Katie

    This tasted like nothing I’d ever made before–in the best way possible. I didn’t have preserved lemon or saffron, so I added the zest of one lemon. At the very end, I added a dash of my favorite curry powder and a little more cumin to my tastes. Excellent recipe, and also a perfect weeknight meal. Using canned chickpeas and pre-cut squash from Costco meant almost no prep work at all!

  115. Jessica

    just finished making this, smells amazing! waiting for suppertime to arrive to taste it with the lemon, olives and yogurt! really easy and fast meal to prepare!

  116. Stella

    This was SO SO SO good! I made it last night and my husband and I both really enjoyed it. I used the preserved lemons, but only about 3/4 of the amount recommended. However, we both thought it gave the stew a nice lemon undertone without being overpowering. I chopped the lemon REALLY small, so we didn’t get big bites of rind. The garnishes were also perfect (minus the hot sauce), and really tied everything together. All in all, a wonderful recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  117. Elspeth

    Just made this tonight, and a couple things – I don’t know how you managed to get squash and potato to cook as quickly as listed here without practically mincing them – I let it cook for about 45 minutes and it was perfect.

    I also suggest replacing the couscous with a grain like millet. It’s about the same size, and it’s nutritionally better, as well as providing a light toasty flavor.

    Also boy am I full! :)

  118. Alice

    Highly recommend! Have made this several times over the past couple of years. Prepared exactly as written, “veganized,” minus the preserved lemons (which I always forget to look for!). Delicious! Perfect for serving those with dietary restrictions – it is vegan, lactose free, and gluten free (if you don’t serve it on couscous).

  119. Amy

    One of my “go-to” recipes now. I prepped 1/2 pint and pint-sized jars of preserved lemons for family and friends this holiday, then attached this recipe! So easy and people loved receiving a savory gift. Thanks for the constant inspiration.

  120. Laura in CA

    This was dinner tonight. I agree with one of the commenters above – this was unlike anything I have ever tasted in a very good way! LOVED the olives and preserved lemons (which I also minced suuuuuper small and didn’t notice any bitter rind at all). The suggested garnishes are perfect too!

  121. Laura in CA

    one last comment – this is even better the next day! And to anyone thinking of making this without the garnishes – don’t do it. The garnishes MAKE the recipe I think, and toasting the slivered almonds seems to be key too! I just loved this today for lunch even more than I loved it for dinner.

  122. Adriane

    Not sure if someone has mentioned this (there are a lot of comments!), but you should consider making your own preserved lemons. They last a really long time and are cheap and easy to make. Plus, I think the flavor is better than store-bought. Thanks for another great recipe where I can use them!

  123. Hi Deb!

    Such a fan of all your recipes and the way you write!

    My name is Yasmina and I’m the daughter of the owner of the restaurant you based your recipe on: Chez Omar. What an honor to read your enthusiasm about my dad’s food. I live in Brooklyn and my husband and I just opened a baby-twin of Chez Omar on Grand Street and Bedford Av, where you can eat the exact same recipes you found in Paris. Stop by! 188 Grand street.

    Thanks again for all your creative recipes. Your hummus is out of this world.

  124. Will

    Excellent recipe that I tested on a true fan of Morocco and he said it tasted like what he ate while he was there! I found that I needed to simmer for about 15 extra minutes for the potatoes and squash to be tender. While you can leave out the lemons, I think the dish is missing a really authentic flavor without them. It really was amazing! I was very full, but it wasn’t heavy (like when you eat too much Chinese).

    1. Lauren

      There was no butternut squash at the store, so I subbed sweet potato and it was wonderful! I also had to simmer the potatoes an extra 10 minutes for tenderness.

  125. Lyn

    This smells delicious as it’s simmering and was so easy to bring together, Deb. Perfect for a chilly 45F early December evening. I’m not skipping the preserved lemons either—I went out especially for them as I had all the other ingredients on hand. Thanks for yet another fabulous vegetarian dish. You consistently inspire my cooking! Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  126. Karen Thorne

    We enjoyed this dish. I used a little cornstarch to thicken the dish and found an easy home recipe for preserved lemons, that you can put together the day before. It gave the dish some depth. We topped with plain yogurt and Harrisa. The almonds added a crunch, but not much flavor, so we’ll skip that next time. We would make this again.

  127. Jason

    Replaced preserved lemon (I also don’t love it) with lemon zest, added chicken, and added 2 large carrots. Upped all the spices and added bay leaves; was stellar.

  128. Alison Pepper

    Holy Toledo – this dish has amazing flavors and textures! Wow. Delish! And with some pre-chopping this can be a quick weeknight meal.

  129. Marcia

    Just made this stew. While the cook times are confusing and I definitely had to cook longer to get the potatoes to cook down, oh my goodness, this was so good. I am looking forward to left overs, and the next time I make this.

  130. Caitlin

    Just made this and it’s fantastic. Served over quinoa with parsley (no almonds) and the flavor is wonderful. It seems that after 5 years of attempts, I’ve definitely acquired the preserved lemon taste. So glad for this dish.

  131. Patricia Miller

    I was CRAVING just these ingredients, and while I did not have a few of the ingredients but the main ones wwere there and REALLY did the trick…thanks!

  132. Liz

    We made this last night and it was delicious, but don’t skip the preserved lemon nor the olives! Before the addition it tasted a little bland to me, but I was very surprised how much flavor the olives and lemon added.

  133. Linda

    I made this exactly as written and it was delicious. It made a lot, so after 2 meals, I still had leftovers. I added 2 cups of vegetable stock and blitzed it with the handheld blender. It made the most awesome soup!! This recipe is a keeper on both counts!

  134. Kathleen

    I’ve made this delicious recipe before and loved it. I came across it again while planning freezer meals for after baby. Has anyone frozen this before? Wondering if the olives will change texture?

  135. Dan Bee

    This is one of the recipes that I come back to time and time again. It’s so incredibly simple, but so flavorful. I use Mark Bittman’s crazy easy preserved lemon recipe: four lemons cut up nicely with seeds removed, then one tablespoon salt and two tablespoons of sugar. This can be done just a few hours before serving. If your lemons happen to be a little on the chewy side, just have them cook in the stew for a little bit before serving. AHHH, so delicious and nutritious. <3

  136. Kathryn

    Late to this recipe, but I do frequently make a Moroccan vegetable and chickpea stew. I want to make this with a Butterkin squash I received with my CSA. My question is about seasoning. Have you made this using Harissa? I love it in my stew but wonder if it might overpower this recipe? Thanks for any input.

      1. Beverly Glass

        This recipe was simple and delicious! I happened to have all the ingredients on hand – I subbed a sweet potato for the red potato. This will be on repeat for dinner at our house :)

      2. Kathryn

        Thank you for the dangerously habit forming suggestion. I couldn’t decide on which Harissa so I purchased one “pantry” and gifted another.

  137. Sarah G

    Agreed, waaaaaay more cooking time needed. A bit bland really, but i didn’t use olives as I hate them. Next time I’d use ras al hanout, I think.

  138. Ellen Grolman

    Hello, could this soup, do you think, be successful without tomatoes, which I can’t eat. It looks gorgeous from the pictures; just wondering how integral the tomatoes are. Thanks!

  139. Caroline

    Excellent! We loved making this, so simple and so flavorful and have most of the ingredients on hand so am adding to our regular rotation. Added 1/2 teaspoon Berbere for a little heat, and added lemon zest to stew and a squeeze of lemon to our plates. Simmered an extra 10 minutes to get potatoes fork tender. We went back for seconds and can’t wait for leftovers!

  140. Rachel

    This stew was delicious. Skeptical because my butternut squash never turns out good, but this was tasty. Didn’t have preserved lemon, just zested one and put it on top with yogurt. Also skipped olives. Will make this again! Even my husband asked for seconds and it was so easy to make in one pot.

  141. This was really good! I appreciate a light winter stew. I couldn’t make it as written due to not having most of the ingredients. Even made without potatoes, saffron, preserved lemon, olives, and the garnishes, (so…I guess I didn’t really make this recipe lol) it was still nice. I’m sure it’ll be even better next time, with more of the flavours present.

  142. Susan

    I also needed to cook a bit longer ( about 15 minutes) for the squash to cook through. I made quinoa instead of couscous, finished with sour cream and Tabasco! As expected …recipe is a keeper

  143. Julie

    This needed some more ooomph for me. I don’t like olives, so I subbed in marinated artichoke hearts. I couldn’t find preserved lemons, but I did get a lettuce/herb delivery that had sorrel in it (bitter/lemony herb). I would definitely make this again, but I might add some garam masala. I think the blandness of the main ingredients overpowered the flavorings. I would also add more of the artichokes, sorrel, and seasoning.

  144. Russ

    Yum. I made a couple of changes. Added dates and a bit of vanilla paste. Also increased the spices by adding about a tablespoon of ras-el-hanout and some smoked paprika. I used less stock as I wanted a thicker stew/tagine – went with about 1 cup instead of two, half of which was white wine. But the basic concept really didn’t change and the outcome was great. Thanks!

  145. Sue

    I am unfortunately allergic to cumin (and coriander/cilantro). Do you have any suggestions for something that I can use instead here, and not completely lose the character of the dish?

  146. Carol P.

    I loved the flavor combination. I thought it needed a bit more time to cook than the instructions, but maybe my potato chunks were bigger than yours! Thanks for another versatile recipe.

  147. Tali

    Just came here to say that for anyone thinking of making this in the slow cooker, I did and it came out great! I left out the olives because I was a little unsure about what that would taste like after 10+ hours cooked. I look forward to trying this as intended, as I’m sure it will be even yummier fresh :)

  148. 1. Can I use canned chickpeas?
    2. Do I rinse the preserved lemon first before mincing? (Read online some sources say to rinse them before using for cooking)

    Help- I amazingly have all the ingredients for this wonderful sounding dish (except only have canned chickpeas)…