Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato

Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato

An unopened bottle of orange blossom water had been occupying precious real estate in our fridge for months as I debated the best thing to do with it. Finally I opened the bottle, just to smell. One whiff is all it took, and my thoughts were drifting away on a cloud of delicate blooms — soft and white, immensely fragrant. From that cloud, I landed in a darkly lit room, sitting at a large round table surrounded by smiling faces. My tenth birthday party.

We perch on round, gilded pillows at a low table. Silky fabrics hang from the ceiling, lining the walls and giving the room a sense of mystery. Someone has given me a warm, floral-scented cloth for cleaning my hands. A waiter is sprinkling us ceremoniously with orange blossom water, and the droplets land on my shoulders like the sweetest rain that ever rained. Talk about feeling like Queen for the day.

Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato

There are candles artfully lighting the space, but the most notable ones are balancing on a women’s body. A belly dancer. She gracefully juggles fire from her head to her elbows and back again, never missing a beat. We eat couscous, chicken with almonds, and b’stella pastry (a dish my dad would later take to making at home).

When it is time for tea, it is time for the greatest show of all. The waiter stacks drinking flutes in a pyramid. He makes a show of pouring the mint concoction from an ornate tea pot, starting with the top glass, and pouring until it pools over, filling the next two. The cascade continues, until each glass is full. (In my mind, the memory is almost a dream-state. I can’t quite figure out the physics of these glasses. How is it that they only spill in two directions? Did they have little spouts? Did he actually pour into glasses individually, and it is my memory that falters?)

We each take a glass and sip. It is, to this day, glorified as the best cup of mint tea I’ve ever had.

To say the least, I’ve been on a Moroccan food kick since I stole a breath of that orange blossom water in the fridge. I bought The Food of Morocco (affiliate link) and searched for something reminiscent of that day. I bought harissa paste and slivered almonds and actually started to use the orange blossom water.

Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato
Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato

The flavors of Moroccan food are so different from what you find in other cuisines. Flowers take on a large role. Both roses and orange blossoms. Herbs are used fresh. Citrus is a star of the show. Lamb, goat, cumin, paprika; Roses, pomegranate, dried fruits.

But, this stew is not traditional. It was never supposed to be. Rather, it’s approachable. It’s a one-pot wonder that has been Americanized, Instant Pot-ized, and everyday dinner-ized. It doesn’t ask you to buy a bottle of orange blossom water, which you would surely have to get at a specialty store (or on Amazon (affiliate link), like me). It also calls for quinoa in place of couscous (Couscous is a hand rolled pasta, so not GF, despite it’s millet-y looking appearance). The recipe calls for ingredients you know, but combines them with Moroccan flare in mind. Cumin — lots of cumin. Paprika. Turmeric. And cinnamon, a small amount, something we rarely add to savory dishes here in the US.

I know it’s starting to look a lot like spring in somewhere, but here — and lots of places - it will still be winter for at least a month. On a snowy evening, this stew is absolutely warming and cozy. Just my style.

For the curious: The restaurant I had my tenth birthday at, Boulder’s Mataam Fez, has since closed. There is a Mataam Fez in Denver that provides a similar (but IMO, not quite as magical) experience. Plan to make an evening of it.

Instant Pot Moroccan Stew with Chicken, Quinoa, Chickpeas & Sweet Potato

Published March 5, 2019 by
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Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 45 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, cubed
  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas, strained
  • 1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • For serving: minced parsley or cilantro

  • Directions:

    1. In the bottom of an Instant Pot, heat coconut oil using the Sauté setting. When oil glistens, add onion, garlic, ginger and celery and sauté until onion is transparent.
    2. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine.
    3. Secure lid on Instant Pot and press the “Manual” button. Set to “high pressure” (labeled “more” on some models) and set timer for 1 minute with vent in the sealed position.
    4. When the timer goes off, turn off the Instant Pot and allow it to set for 10 minutes with out releasing the steam. This will ensure the quinoa is cooked through.
    5. After 10 minutes, release any remaining pressure. Stir, and ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro.

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    Instant Pot French Lentil Soup

    Instant Pot French Lentil Soup

    Cozy.

    • Noun: giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.

    • Adjective: a soft covering to keep a teapot, boiled egg, etc., hot.

    • Verb: give (someone) a feeling of comfort or complacency.

    The dictionary definition might as well include French Lentil Soup, too. It fits right in there between "giving a feeling a comfort” and “keeping warm.”

    Red lentils are a regular in our house (dal, or this stew) but I was feeling explorative and grabbed French lentils at the store one day. It was a very, very good impulsive decision.

    In addition to French lentils, bay leaves, white wine, and fresh thyme go into the pot. What comes out is this steaming hot, broth-y stew that boasts every flavor a “French” soup should. It’s amazing what a splash of wine can do!

    Lentils are not the first thing I think of when I imagine French food (maybe brie, or baguettes, or wine) but lentils are a huge part of French culture. Even though lentils originated in the Middle East, Le Puy Lentils (French Lentils) are specific to France and have the same Protected Designation of Origin as Champagne — to be called lentilles du Puy, they must be grown in Puy.

    Instant Pot French Lentil Soup
    Instant Pot French Lentil Soup

    The classic French preparation of lentils is with Dijon Mustard and Red wine vinegar, though on a cold day — ehem, virtually every day from mid-October to March, here - the lentil soup is the most satisfying, warming thing you could lay your eyes on.

    This recipe is also plant-based, making it perfect for #MeatlessMonday or your everyday, if that’s your thing. But the flavor is so rich and the lentils so satisfying, that no one at your table will miss a thing. (Psst…. if they do, it is common in some countries to serve sliced sausage over lentils).

    One more thing! This whole recipe comes together in your Instant Pot. 12 minutes pressurized, a sprinkle of parsley, a glass of Pinot Grigio, and you have your self a very pretty little meal. Weeknights? Conquered. Lazy Sunday evenings? Done and done.

    Instant Pot French Lentil Soup

    Instant Pot French Lentil Soup

    Published December 6, 2018 by
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    Serves: 8   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 cups french lentils, rinsed (also called Le Puy or French Green Lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Splash white wine (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper 
  • Leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (more if using homemade broth, less if using store-bought broth with sodium), plus more to taste
  • Garnish: minced parsley

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil in the bottom of an Instant Pot on the sauté setting. Add onion, garlic, and celery, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until onions are translucent and starting to brown. Add the splash of wine and stir. Continue to cook on sauté setting until wine has cooked off.
    2. Add carrots, canned tomatoes, lentils, bay leaves, vegetable broth, black pepper, salt and thyme, and stir.
    3. Place lid on Instant Pot and turn to “Bean/Chili” setting with timer set to 14 minutes and vent in the sealed position.
    4. When timer goes off, release the pressure. Stir soup and season with salt additional to taste. Serve topped with minced parsley.
    5. Tip: For extra veggies in your meal, place a handful of baby kale or spinach in the bottom of your bowl when serving, and spoon the hot lentils over top.

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    Instant Pot Yellow Dal

    Instant Pot Yellow Dal

    The air smells of pine as it whips in the window. Up here, it’s 62 degrees. The Aspens have turned; their bright yellow leaves look stark against the pine trees mixed among them. The air is thin, there is not a bar of cell service to be found, and the moon is up. This is Mount Evans.

    We’ve gone to Mount Evans to climb several times this summer and the change in elevation is always the perfect escape from the summer heat. (Eh-hem, I’ve obnoxiously shared the exact same view every weekend for the last month on my Instagram stories. I just can’t help it — the view takes my breath away every time.) Lately though, it’s been even better than usual because of the fall colors and crisp air. And, even I avoid cooking when it’s ninety degrees out, but when it’s only sixty-two, bring ooooon the baked goods, stews, and cozy foods.

    Instant Pot Yellow Dal
    Instant Pot Yellow Dal

    I love red lentils when the weather starts to turn, and my go-to is dal. It’s creamy, spicy, satisfying, and so easy to make in an Instant Pot. So easy! The best weekend days start with breakfast, take us climbing somewhere among the Aspens, and end in dinner from the Instant Pot.

    Instant Pot Yellow Dal

    Instant Pot Yellow Dal

    Published October 11, 2018 by
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    Serves: 8   |    Active Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small red onions or 1 large, diced
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Juice 1/2 lime, plus wedges for serving
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced, plus more for garnish

  • Directions:

    1. Turn the Instant Pot (affiliate link!) to sauté setting. Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil to the Instant Pot. When the oil is hot, sauté the garlic, onions, ginger, and jalapeño, stirring occasionally.
    2. While onions cook, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. When oil is hot, add mustard seed and cumin seeds, and toast until fragant. (Watch the seeds closely to avoid burning them—the cook quicly).
    3. Scape the cumin and mustard mixture into the Instant Pot. Add broth, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, ground cayenne, salt, ground black pepper, lime juice, and cilantro and stir.
    4. Place lentils in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cool water. Strain, then add to the Instant Pot. Stir well.
    5. Place lid on Instant Pot and turn to “Manual” setting and adjust to high pressure. Set timer for 10 minutes with the seal closed.
    6. When the timer goes off, release the pressure or allow it to release naturally. Stir the lentils, and serve hot with lime wedges and cilantro.
    7. To make this on the stove top instead of an Instant Pot: Use a large soup pot. In step 3, bring everything to a simmer and cook, stirring occassionally, for 15-20 minutes, until lentils are softened through.
    8. Note: If you soak your lentils for 6-12 hours ahead of time (we usually do this), then strain water from lentils before use. Reduce broth quantity to 4 cups, and reduce cooking time to 4 minutes.

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