Moroccan Stuffed Squash RELOADED!

Vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash Reloaded with Quinoa - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Once in a while I have a recipe that I just keep coming back to and improving and evolving. Lately I’ve been enjoying lots of dinner parties and I’ve been cooking for friends very regularly. I’ve been cooking a lot of stuffed vegetables and experimenting with different fillings.

Just in the last few weeks I’ve cooked either my Tempeh Stuffed Mushrooms, Stuffed Peppers, and Stuffed Squash about a dozen times. (These are all recipes from my vegan cookbook.) It’s just so fun to make a giant batch of tomato rice or spicy quinoa or couscous and mix it up with more spices and other delicious foodstuffs. And then of course to fill up the vegetables and throw them in the oven.

A few days ago one of my good friends gave me an enormous zucchini from his home garden. I totally laughed when I saw the 2.5 kilogram monster squash. Everyone at our picnic was quite amused when I passed around the homegrown gift. It took me a few days to figure out how to best honor the gigantic gourd. And then it came to me yesterday afternoon: Make a killer variation of my Vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash!

Continue reading

West African Spinach Peanut Stew with Fufu

West African Spinach Peanut Stew with Fufu - The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook

In October of 2009, I spent 2 weeks in Senegal and The Gambia. Julia had an internship with GADHOH (Gambian Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) in Serrekunda, The Gambia, and I went to visit. I also helped film and edit a promotional video to support the girl’s school and I proudly watched Julia teach some science lessons in sign language with St. John’s School for the Deaf.

We met some amazing people and had some great times. The trip was a total adventure, including cross-country journeys in shared taxis, plus rides in donkey carts, rickshaws, ferries, and old school vans. I had to brush up my French to get around in Senegal, which was quite a challenge! If you know me, you know I love languages. For this trip, I even learned some Gambian Sign Language and International Sign Language so I could introduce myself and enjoy basic communications with our hosts and the deaf community.

From Dakar to Banjul to Jinack Island, then back to Dakar over to the hauntingly moving Île de Gorée, we had some great food and enjoyed the amazing landscapes and sunshine. Continue reading

Vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash

Moroccan Stuffed Squash - Couscous, dried apricots, herbs - vegan recipe from world travel

Last Thursday I found some great posts from travel blogger friends who also visited Morocco.

I started with Jaime’s Breakaway Backpacker post on the beautiful mountain town of Chefchouen, with breathtaking photos of the blue town. Soon, I found a similar post by Robert of Leave Your Daily Hell, and this post on Travels of Adam. One thing you’ll probably notice: travelers have mixed experiences in Morocco. It’s an intense place. You’re sure to find great food, meet incredible people, and see some fantastic sights. However, it’s also extremely likely some of the food, people, and places will provide material for great travel stories of misadventure and malady. That’s Morocco!

Isn’t it cool to read others’ blogs about places you’ve been, or dream of seeing yourself? For me, it’s a great way to relive and revive travel memories, and totally inspiring for future travel adventures.

All these awesome photos and stories got me thinking about my own travels in Morocco and the food I had there. It’s true: vegetarian and vegan options in Morocco are often limited to varieties of vegetable tagine and vegetable cous-cous. After eating these two dishes twice a day you might start to get a little bored, as I did, but you never have to look too far for an excellent, unforgettable veggie cous-cous or tagine.

For me, it was on one of my last nights in sleepy, chilled-out Chefchouen at a somewhat fancy restaurant decorated wonderfully with tiles, flowers, and plants. The night air was cool and refreshing, the view of the town and surrounding hills and valley: majestic. I can still smell and taste the fluffy cous-cous, the soft chickpeas bathed in a sweet and savoury stew of vegetables, and the delicate flavors of the dried fruits and nuts accenting the dish. In fact, nearly all of my kitchen adventures with Moroccan cuisine since then have been attempts to recreate the experience of that heavenly meal.

This recipe below for delicious, vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash can be used with just about any kind of big squash, or made on it’s own as a sort of vegetable cous-cous dish or vegetable tagine. Just increase the water or stock to make more of a vegan Moroccan stew (tagine) without stuffing and roasting anything. It’s your call if you want to use the squash interior you remove in the stuff itself. With larger squash, they’re often already partly hollow or the insides aren’t always that tasty anyway. Experiment!

Continue reading

African Red Curry

African Red Curry with coconut and tofu - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan cookbook

This African Red Curry is a hybrid dish which takes a more typically Asian (particularly Thai and Indonesian) curry recipe and changes up a few key ingredients and spices. I love to make Thai curries of all kinds– yellow curry, green curry, red curry, and my personal favorite: Massaman curry, usually with potatoes, tofu, onion, and peanuts. Anytime I see it in my travels I have to try it, and am constantly amazed at how different countries and different cooks prepare it. Massaman curry is by origin a hybrid dish: a Thai recipe enhanced by the aromatic spices that Muslim traders brought to South East Asia in ages past.

When I lived in Boston’s Chinatown and later in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, I experimented often with store-bought curry pastes from the Asian supermarkets. This recipe goes for a more Do-It-Yourself  approach, also altering the base ingredients to make a more world-fusion recipe. I enjoy making my own homemade sauces and curries and I encourage you to try the same. Anyone can buy prepared sauce and paste in a jar, but when you make an awesome curry from scratch and it works, it’s so satisfying!

If I had to locate the Africa in this African curry, I’d trace it back to Mombasa on the Kenyan coast. I had such an amazing, spicy coconut curry at this simple place in the old Muslim quarter of town. I remember how intrigued I was by the Asian influence and artifacts I saw on that first trip to Africa. I was continually surprised by great Indian food and Thai and other Asian restaurants in Nairobi and other cities in East Africa. Even on the other side of Africa, in Senegal and The Gambia, a good decade later, I also enjoyed excellent Asian, particularly Indian food. Just goes to show, people have been migrating, moving, and mixing world cuisines with amazing results for a long, long time.

Continue reading