Moroccan Chickpea Stew Puree

red table catering

Chef Melanie in the Kitchen

Chef Melanie De Coppet, the founder and owner of Red Table Catering in New York City, contributed this recipe from her justly famous A-list menu. Melanie now lives and works in California, but her legend lives on in her recipes. I have known Melanie all of her life and I am proud to include her recipe.

The heat of summer is over and the nights have gotten cool. A warm and satisfying stew is a welcome dish.

A classic American beef stew is included in volume one, the Essential Puree Guidebook, but this recipe is a preview of the many cuisines that make up the landscape of American food. We will be including it in volume two of the guidebook, with its theme of World Cuisine.

This stew from the Moroccan kitchen is vegetarian, with a mild version of traditional spices. It contains enough spice for authentic flavor, but not too much for the swallow.

Additional Ingredients

Some recipes for this stew call for preserved lemons, available from Amazon or in gourmet stores. These add a bit of acid to balance the spices. I have not included the lemons, because for some people, acid is difficult to swallow. If you have permission from your healthcare provider, by all means add a preserved lemon or two. Lemon adds perfume and balances the richness of the tomato on the palate. 

Harissa, the garlicky spice sauce of North African cuisine, perhaps in the amount of one teaspoon, may be added to taste after cooking, during puree. There are many good brands on the market. Some can be ordered from Amazon. Just to make sure this ingredient is good for the patient in question, check with a healthcare professional.

For those who wish to incorporate more protein into the meal, this stew can be served with the addition of roasted chicken, either on the side or added to the puree of the stew. You simply take the part of the chicken you like, white or dark meat, break it into smaller pieces and add it to the stew for puree or with the addition of a little broth, puree the chicken separately and serve separately.

The stew can also be served with roasted lamb, either a slice of the leg or a grilled chop, sliced off from the bone, cut into small pieces and added to the puree or pureed separately.

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Prep Time: 15 minutes     Cook Time: 40 minutesLevel: EasyServes: 6 to 8


  • 5 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups dried chickpeas soaked overnight and cooked for an hour (with cooking liquid drained and reserved) or one can of chickpeas (15 oz.)
  • 1 (28 oz.) can plum tomatoes, finely chopped, liquid reserved, or 2 cups peeled and chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1” pieces
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1” pieces
  • 1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise, and then into 1/4″ half moon slices
  • 5-6 tbsp. finely chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
  • 5-6 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 2 ½ – 3 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ginger powder
  • Pinch of saffron (optional)
  • Dash of cinnamon (best flavor is Ceylon cinnamon)
  • Mild harissa for serving at the end, 1 teaspoon
  • Tzatziki as a traditional side dish

Note: spices may be adjusted to taste. Use less, if that suits your palate.


chickpea stew

In 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sauté onions until golden. Add garlic and saute for a minute until translucent.

Add chickpeas, 1 and ¼ cups reserved cooking liquid, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, salt, cumin, turmeric, ginger, sweet potato, saffron, cayenne, cinnamon.

Measure reserved tomato liquid and add enough water to make 1 and ½ cups of liquid in total. Add to pot and bring to boil.

Cover, turn heat to low and cook for 30 minutes at the simmer.

Add zucchini and cook covered on low for 7 to 8 minutes.

Measure out a half cup cooking liquid. Add harissa and combine. The liquid harissa can be added in small quantities, to taste, as one would add pesto to a minestrone.

Before the puree, add parsley and cilantro to taste.

For the Meal

For the meal, alternate a bite or two of this stew with yogurt to keep the palate cool. Greek yogurt, half cup of yogurt, blended with  a teaspoon of a good mint jelly may also be served to balance the earthy spices.

For the Freezer

This freezes beautifully, one cup servings, labelled in glass containers.

Water expands when frozen, so only fill your glass container 2/3 of the way full and make sure the cover fits tightly.

I use Post-it notes to mark the name of the dish and the date it was frozen, plus a Use By date of 30 days.

Tzatziki: Cucumbers and Yogurt

The Side Dish

The traditional accompaniment to this Moroccan stew is a side dish of cucumbers pureed in yogurt, with a little salt, white pepper and lemon juice.

This is a no-recipe recipe. Take half a cucumber, the hothouse variety with less seeds, and slice into the bowl of the mini-food processor or blender and puree, slowly adding the half cup of yogurt, your choice as to low-fat or regular.

Note: Harissa, the traditional North African spice sauce, usually contains cayenne, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and a blend of spices including ground cumin, coriander and caraway. It is added for a touch of flavor to this stew. Please make sure you have clearance from your healthcare provider. Choose a commercial brand that is mild. Find a recipe for a homemade version of harissa on

Image credit: Rooey202 via Flickr CC