Kid-friendly Magical Moroccan Vegetable Jewel Stew in a Mug + Crispy Couscous Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Magical Moroccan Vegetable Jewel Stew in a Mug + Crispy Couscous

Recipe: Magical Moroccan Vegetable Jewel Stew in a Mug + Crispy Couscous

Magical Moroccan Vegetable Jewel Stew in a Mug + Crispy Couscous

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Chatham172/Shutterstock.com
prep time
10 minutes
cook time
5 minutes
makes
1-2 servings

Fun Food Story

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Magical Moroccan Vegetable Jewel Stew in a Mug + Crispy Couscous

Buckle your seatbelts: it's time to travel with our taste buds to the enchanting country of Morocco! Moroccan food is widely varied in color and flavor. Even the simplest, most basic dishes come to life when seasoned with exciting spices and combinations of dried fruit, legumes, and vividly colored vegetables. That's exactly what this "stew" is! Can we even call it a stew if it's made in the microwave?! It's about as close as we can get. The couscous on top might be our favorite part—just wait until you see how it crisps up in the microwave (thanks, Chef Dylan, for the inspiration!) Kid chefs will have lots of fun creating this one and will have plenty to do with chopping, dicing, and slicing their veggies. Share some history about Morocco and fun food facts about Spices, the surprise ingredient! We may not be able to travel very far these days, but with a little imagination and culinary magic, we can visit exciting places from our very own kitchens.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • microwave :

    to heat or cook food or liquid quickly in a microwave oven, which uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to generate heat in the food's water molecules.

  • season :

    to add flavor to food with spices, herbs, and salt.

Equipment Checklist

  • Microwave
  • Microwave-safe mug
  • Microwave-safe plate
  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Metal spoon
  • Can opener
  • Potholder
  • Paper towels
  • Cutting board and kid-safe knife (butter knife works great)
  • Soap for cleaning hands
scale
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Ingredients

Magical Moroccan Vegetable Jewel Stew in a Mug + Crispy Couscous

  • 2 T dried couscous **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free bread)**
  • 3 T water
  • 2 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 to 1/2 small zucchini (about 1/2 C diced)
  • 1 green onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper or 3 mini sweet peppers
  • 3 to 4 baby carrots
  • 5 to 6 grape or cherry tomatoes, or 1 plum tomato
  • 2 to 3 dried apricots or 1 T raisins (or a mix!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 tsp all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1/4 C canned drained chickpeas **(for LEGUME/CHICKPEA ALLERGY sub frozen and thawed corn or canned and drained corn)**

Food Allergen Substitutions

Magical Moroccan Vegetable Jewel Stew in a Mug + Crispy Couscous

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free bread for couscous. Substitute gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour.
  • Legumes: Substitute 1/4 C frozen and thawed corn or canned and drained corn for chickpeas.

Instructions

Magical Moroccan Vegetable Jewel Stew in a Mug + Crispy Couscous

1.
intro

We'll be making the Crispy Couscous first! North African couscous are semolina granules made from crushed durum wheat (pasta is made with ground durum wheat).

2.
measure + add + microwave

Measure and add 2 tablespoons dried couscous and 3 tablespoons water to your mug. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for 1 minute. Let stand for 1 minute and remove the mug from the microwave with a potholder.

3.
stir in + spread + microwave

Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and 1 pinch of salt. Spread the couscous on a microwavable plate and microwave for 1 minute. Set aside while you make the Stew!

4.
chop + combine

Chop up 1/2 zucchini, 1/2 red bell pepper, 3 to 4 baby carrots, 1 green onion, and 5 to 6 grape or cherry tomatoes into tiny pieces. Chop 2 to 3 dried apricots. Combine the veggies in your microwavable mug.

5.
season + stir

Season with 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and stir.

6.
measure + add + microwave

Measure and add 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon flour and stir again. Add 1/4 cup of drained chickpeas to the mug, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave for 2 minutes. Let stand for 1 minute before microwaving for 2 final minutes. Remove with potholder, top with Crispy Couscous, let cool slightly, and enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Spices!

back to recipe
Photo by Engin Akyurt

Hi there!

"Let's see if you can guess who I am. I'm a small but essential ingredient in dishes; I come in many types and forms; I might be very colorful or dull and extremely hot or subtle; plus, I'm almost never left out of a dish, at least a good tasting dish! Have you guessed yet? I'm Spice! You might use just one or several of us in a recipe! What's your favorite spice? Is it cinnamon, cloves, or ginger? Perhaps you are very daring and like to add ground cayenne pepper or even Carolina reaper pepper (the hottest!) to your food. I hope you'll give many of us a try. You never know; you just might discover a new favorite!"

​​History

  • A spice is a seed, fruit, root, bark, or another part of a plant primarily used to flavor, color, or preserve food. Herbs differ from spices as they are a plant's leaves, flowers, or stems. Herbs are mainly used to flavor or garnish a dish. Some spices may also be herbs, depending on which parts of the plant are used. One example is Coriander. And, although Garlic is botanically a vegetable, it can be used as a spice or herb!
  • The stories and histories of the spices you see in the grocery store now are rich and span thousands and thousands of years across the world.
  • Spices were considered extremely valuable in ancient times, even more than gold (especially cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper). Now, spices are widely available and cost a small fraction of what they used to. Saffron is considered the most expensive spice. 
  • The Spice Trade happened between ancient civilizations of Asia, Northeast Africa, and Europe.
  • During the ancient Roman Empire, trading largely came from Arabia. Traders supplied cassia, cinnamon, and other spices and purposely kept their sources a secret. This allowed the Arabians to remain the sole traders, and they could control the price, keeping them expensive. 
  • Traders continued to keep their spices' origins secret for several centuries from both Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman civilizations. Finally, in the first century, Pliny the Elder, a Roman scholar, discovered their secret. 
  • Later, during the Middle Ages, Europeans used spices on their food to show off their wealth since spices were still costly at that time. For example, a pound of saffron cost the same as a horse, a pound of ginger was as much as a sheep, and two pounds of mace as much as a cow!
  • The discovery of spices led to exploration along the Spice Route. Europeans were searching for a water route to reach the Spice Islands, the only place where spices were grown at the time. This journey led to the European colonization of India, Indonesia, and other countries of the eastern hemisphere.
  • Spices are important to food because they preserve it, add nutrition, flavor, and color, and tie a recipe to a particular part of the world. For example, cumin is often used in Indian but not Italian food. Likewise, oregano is often used in Greek, Italian, and Mexican food but not Thai food. 
  • Peppercorns have been used as a spice for over 4,000 years!
  • Stories suggest that Chinese courtiers in the third century BCE carried cloves in their mouths to keep their breath sweet when talking with the emperor.
  • Indians have used spices and herbs for thousands of years for cooking and medicine. 
  • Spices native to India were grown as early as the eighth century BCE in the gardens of Babylon.
  • The United States entered the Spice Trade toward the end of the 1700s. They traded salmon, codfish, tobacco, flour, soap, candles, butter, cheese, and beef for spices like pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.

Nutrition

  • Not only do spices help food taste amazing, but they also have astounding health benefits. For example: 
  • Cinnamon lowers blood sugar, and Ginger helps calm upset stomachs.
  • Turmeric helps the heart stay healthy and protects our brain from losing memory.
  • Black pepper aids in digestion so that our body can eat all the vitamins it needs from the food we eat.
  • Cumin can help with digestion and calm upset stomachs. It's also good for the heart!
  • Paprika has nutrients that are good for the eyes, and Chili powder benefits the brain! 
  • Coriander helps the body get rid of toxic agents, and Cardamom helps fight inflammation.
  • Garlic is great for the heart and the immune system, and it helps prevent the flu!

 

History of Stew!

Photo by Ronald Sumners/Shutterstock.com (Irish stew)
  • Humans have been making stew since ancient times! Food historians say there is evidence of a stew made in Japan sometime during the Jōmon period (14,000-300 BCE). Tribes from the Amazon Rainforest used turtle shells to cook stew over a fire. Other cultures used the shells of mollusks to boil their stew.
  • A stew is a combination of solid foods, usually tough meats and vegetables, cooked on the stove or in the oven in a liquid, like water or stock, sometimes with added wine, at low temperature for one to three hours. The meat becomes tender, and gravy is created due to the slow cooking process, making the stew thick and hearty.
  • Brown stews are made with seared red meat, browned and diced vegetables, browned flour, brown stock, and sometimes red wine. The diced vegetables are called a "mirepoix" (MEER-pwah), part of French cuisine, typically consisting of carrots, celery, and onions. A stew may also include legumes, noodles, rice, or potatoes.
  • White stews can be called "blanquettes" or "fricassées" and consist of lightly seared but not browned lamb, poultry, or veal cooked in a white stock. Diced, braised vegetables with light color, like celery, cucumber, green lettuce, parsnips, or potatoes may be added. 
  • Many countries have stews in their cuisine. France has "beef bourguignon" or "beef Burgundy," a dish of beef stewed in burgundy wine. They also have a fish stew called "bouillabaisse." Vietnam has "bo kho," a richly-seasoned beef stew. "Feijoada" is a bean, beef, and pork stew from Brazil and Portugal. "Főzelék" is a thick vegetable soup from Hungary. South India has a stew made with lentils and vegetables called "sambar."
  • What's the difference between soup and stew? Soups are typically cooked in less time and are thinner in consistency than thick stews.

Let's Learn About Morocco!

Photo by Olena Znak/Shutterstock.com (Traditional Moroccan mint tea in Marrakesh, Morocco)
  • The Kingdom of Morocco is in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa. It shares an eastern border with Algeria and its southern border with the disputed area of the Western Sahara. Morocco claims Western Sahara as its own and refers to the area as its Southern Provinces. The Mediterranean Sea borders Morocco on the north and the Atlantic Ocean on the west. 
  • How big is Morocco? It is 172,300 square miles, a little bigger than the state of California in the United States. If you include the disputed Southern Provinces, it is 274,460 square miles. 
  • There are almost 38 million people in Morocco. The majority of Moroccans are either Arabs or Berbers. The Berbers are indigenous people from Northern Africa and call themselves "Amazigh" or "the free people."
  • The official languages are Standard Arabic and Amazigh (or Tamazight). Spoken languages include Moroccan Arabic, Hassaniya Arabic, other Berber languages, and French. French is used in business, official government documents, and international relations but is not an official language.
  • Rabat is Morocco's capital city, and Casablanca is its largest city. You may be familiar with Casablanca from the 1942 film by that name. 
  • Morocco has a unitary parliamentary semi-constitutional monarchy with a king, prime minister, and parliament.
  • Most of the country has hot summer Mediterranean and hot desert climates. However, the mountains can have an alpine environment that supports ski resorts, and the moist valleys have lush forests. Morocco's range of climates is similar to Southern California's.  
  • The Barbary lion is a national symbol of Morocco. These great, majestic animals used to roam the lands but are now extinct in the wild. There are only a few Barbary lion descendants left in zoos.
  • The city of Marrakech is famous for its souks (bazaars or open markets) and is known as the "Capital of Culture" in Africa! It is actually illegal to cut down palm trees in the city of Marrakech, which is why you can find so many palm trees throughout the city.
  • Morocco's culture has Arabic, Berber, Jewish, French, and Spanish influences. Its food is a blend of Mediterranean, Moorish, and European cuisines. 
  • Argan oil is abundant in Morocco. It comes from seeds of the Argan tree and is also used in many beauty products and food. Funny fact: the goats in Morocco love to climb Argan trees to reach the tasty fruit!
  • In May, Morocco hosts a three-day celebration called the Festival of Roses. The streets are filled with rose petals and their scent. A rose queen is crowned, and people celebrate with music, dancing, and delicious food.
  • Some Moroccan food staples include lentils, chickpeas and fava beans, couscous, dried fruits, and meat (beef, lamb, and chicken). Spices are essential to their cooking. Mint tea is generally served everywhere and at any time of day!

What's It Like to be a Kid in Morocco?

  • If you were a child in Morocco, you would attend school from ages 6 through 15. School is free there and mandatory!
  • Football (soccer) is the most popular sport for kids to play. They may also participate in athletics (track and field), basketball, tennis, and swimming. 
  • Traditional games include "dinifri" (a Berber game where you build a tower of blocks or other small things that can be stacked and try to prevent them from getting knocked down by the other team), "kick and catch" (try to catch a rag ball multiple times without letting it drop), and "ronda" (a fishing card game). 
  • For breakfast, kids may eat "msemen" (Berber flatbread or pancake) with butter and jam or eggs, goat cheese, olives, and Moroccan bread. They may eat beef, chicken, or lamb "tagine" (stew) or "harira" (tomato-based soup with chickpeas and lentils) for lunch or dinner. A popular fast food or snack is "ma'quda" (potato fritter). 
  • A few of the Moroccan desserts kids may enjoy include: "kaab el ghzal," or "gazelle ankles," (a crescent-shaped almond cookie), "chebakia" (a rose-shaped pastry with honey and orange blossom water syrup sprinkled with sesame seeds), and "zucre coco" (coconut fudge cake).

THYME for a Laugh

Today I gave out free coriander to those in need.

It was an act of cilantropy (philanthropy).

That's Berry Funny

What instruments do Sticky Fingers Cooking chefs play? 

A-couscous-tic guitars, of course!

THYME for a Laugh

I named my dog Cinnamon!

He's a lot of bark!

The Yolk's On You

What is a mother hen’s favorite plant in the garden? 

The Chickpea!

That's Berry Funny

Why did the diners send back their stew? 

Because there was a hare in it!

That's Berry Funny

Why did the rooster blush? 

Because it saw a chickpea!

That's Berry Funny

How do you turn a stew into gold?

Add 24 carrots!

The Yolk's On You

How did the gardener mend his trousers? 

With a vegetable patch!

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