Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Moroccan Spiced Chili & Green Tomato Zhoug

All summer I witness friends from all parts of the globe gush over the hot weather while I hide under hats and try to survive the heat. The shift to cool weather brings me great relief and ironically, warms my heart and my kitchen.  I love bundling up in scarves and cozy sweaters and shifting from the refreshing cold salads and meals of summer to the steamy stews of fall and winter. This recipe is rich in spices and a huge hit (with kids and adults) every time I make it.  Last winter I cooked this recipe on the TV show CT Style to promote the CitySeed Winter Farmers' Market, and locally grown foods (the meat, canned tomatoes, cooking greens, onions and squash were all available from CT farms through the winter months).  This is one of those recipes that people always ask me for while they're eating it, so it's about time I shared it here. 

Last week I cooked this up but left out the chili pepper so the younger kids at the table would eat it, but didn't want the rest of us to suffer for the lack of heat, so I made up a last minute spicy green tomato condiment to stir in.  It was one of those inventive moments where I lacked the main ingredients for a recipe (in this case, cilantro and parsley for the Yemeni condiment zhoug), but realized I had plenty of green cherry tomatoes in my garden which added a bright tanginess to the rich red spiced stew and transformed the sauce into an entirely new thing.  I'm including that recipe below as well.  


Moroccan Spiced Chili with Winter Vegetables
Recipe courtesy of CitySeed, Inc.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
1 pound ground beef, lamb or small diced stew meat
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
½ cup French lentils (grey green lentils that do not mush when cooked, or substitute 1 can chickpeas)
1/2 small winter squash (such as butternut or acorn) cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cups water
2 cups frozen or fresh chopped greens such as spinach, collards or kale

Instructions
1.  In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Brown the meat and break it into small pieces. As meat starts to brown add diced onion and sauté with meat until translucent. Add garlic and spices, continue cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
2.  Add the tomatoes, water and lentils and stir, scrapping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add diced squash and simmer 20 minutes more or until squash is tender and lentils are cooked through. Add finely chopped greens and cook a few minutes more until tender. Adjust seasoning as needed. If you have the time, you can cook this chili slow and on low heat for a few hours, stirring occasionally, and adding the greens a few minutes before you are ready to serve. 
3. Optional: serve the chili with yogurt and cilantro or parsley (or the Green Tomato Zhoug below).


Green Tomato Zhoug
This spicy salsa type condiment is inspired by a Yemeni green sauce called zhoug which consists of garlic, chili peppers, cardamom, caraway seeds, cilantro and parsley, salt and olive oil. 

4 cloves garlic
Seeds from 3 green cardamom pods, ground (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom)
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 small fresh chili pepper or dried chili to taste
8 green cherry tomatoes or 2 green tomatoes

Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, first grind the garlic, salt and spices into a paste. Quarter cherry tomatoes or chop the large tomatoes, add to the garlic paste and pound or pulse until the desired texture is reached. Adjust seasoning as desired. 

Do you have a favorite chili recipe? Please share below!


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