Moroccan Fall Stew with Butternut Squash & Turkey Meatballs


What better way to celebrate fall flavors than with this lovely, delectable Moroccan stew of butternut squash, spinach, garbanzo beans spiced with saffron, cinnamon and harissa. I then add turkey meatballs that simmer in the stew and absorb the wonderful flavors.

This simple recipe is a fantastic way to marry together fall flavors with a delicate spicy twist. It is a crowd pleaser that your family will love! You can make this in advance, it will taste even better the next day!

This serves 4-5 people. For more people, just increase the meatball quantity (1 pound = 16 golf-size balls), and add another cup of stock to the stew. No need to double up on the veggies. Make sure to season with salt and pepper.

I use saffron and harissa in this dish. You can leave them out or use a bit more turmeric instead of the saffron, but I recommend getting the real thing! It is a miracle spice that will elevate any soup or paella. Harissa is now available in most grocery stores. It is a sweet and spicy red pepper paste that adds wonderful flavor and goes with anything. I use it for chicken (mixed with tomato paste), in soups, serve it with hummus, spread it with cheese etc.

Ingredients:

For the stew:

1 butternut squash divided 1 large onion, sliced into thin strips 3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch discs

3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Fresh ginger, cut to 1 inch cube and halved 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 cinnamon stick, broken into two halves (or 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon) 1 tablespoon hairssa paste 1 pinch of saffron

2 3/4 cups chicken stock

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained 10 oz bag fresh spinach

1 lemon, juiced

Salt & fresh ground pepper

Turkey meatballs (16 golf-size balls):

1 pound ground turkey 1 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped 1 small onion, finely minced 1 cup grated butternut squash (about 1/4 of butternut squash)

1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Preparation:

1. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high and add the onions. Stir with a wooden spoon and sauté until translucent. Add the carrots and celery and continue to sauté another minute, then add the red pepper flakes, cubed butternut squash, and garlic and stir together.

2. Add the tomato paste and stir until mixed well. Add the paprika, turmeric, cumin, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine and add the chicken stock, cinnamon stick, ginger, harissa and saffron. Mix well and let it come to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Now make the meatballs: In a large bowl combine the ground turkey, parsley, onion, grated butternut squash, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and olive oil. Use clean hands to mix together, without overworking the meat.

4. With wet hands scoop up the meatball mixture and shape golf-size balls. Place the balls on a large plate of sheet pan.

5. Add the drained garbanzo beans to the stew. Check for seasoning and add more salt to taste.

6. Add the spinach and close the lid to allow the steam to wilt the spinach, about 5 minutes.

7. Gently stir the spinach into the stew. Careful not to break the butternut squash cubes.

8. With a spoon, make small wells and place the meatballs in the stew starting with the outer perimeter. Make room by spooning the vegetables over the meatballs. Cover and give the pot a gentle shake. Let simmer for 25-30 minutes.

9. Add the lemon juice and shake the pot to combine the liquids.

Serve with white rice or quinoa and garnish with parsley.

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