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!

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

Grundgütiger, was macht man bloß mit einem 2,5kg schweren Zucchinimonster, von einem guten Freund im eigenen kleinen Gärtchen handgezogen und liebevoll überreicht? Ein paar Tage grübeln und dann – Heureka! – in eine verdammt leckere Variation meines Marokkanisch gefüllten Kürbis verwandeln!

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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!

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

Marokkanischer gefüllter Kürbismit Couscous, getrockneten Früchten und Nüssen

4 Portionen / Dauer 70 Min.

  • 2 mittelgroße Kürbisse (Hokkaido-, Butternuss- oder Eichelkürbis)
  • 1 Tasse / 150 g gekochte Kichererbsen (aus der Dose, abgegossen)
  • 2 mittelgroße / 150 g Tomaten gehackt
  • 1 mittelgroße Möhre geschält, klein geschnitten
  • 1/4 Tasse / 30 g getrocknete Aprikosen gehackt und/oder Rosinen
  • 3 EL Olivenöl
  • 1 mittelgroße Zwiebel gehackt
  • 2 Knoblauchzehen fein gehackt
  • 1 cm Ingwer fein gehackt
  • 1/2 TL schwarzer Pfeffer gemahlen
  • 1/2 TL Paprikapulver
  • 1/2 Tasse / 60 g Nüsse geröstet, gehackt (Hasel- oder Walnüsse, Mandeln, Sonnenblumenkerne etc.)
  • 1/2 TL Zimt gemahlen oder 1 kleine Zimtstange
  • 1 TL Kurkuma
  • 3/4 TL Salz
  • 2 1/2 Tassen / 600 ml Gemüsebrühe oder
    2 1/2 Tassen / 600 ml Wasser + 2 TL Gemüsebrühpulver
  • 1 Tasse / 160 g Couscous (ungekocht)
  • frische Minz- oder Petersilienblätter gehackt, zum Garnieren
  1. Ofen auf 200°C / Stufe 6 vorheizen
  2. Kürbisse längs halbieren. Weiches Inneres mit Löffel herauskratzen, um später 4 hohle Hälften zu füllen.
    Mit Öl bestreichen und Hälften mit Öffnung nach unten auf ein Backblech legen. 20 Min. im Ofen vorrösten.
  3. In einem großen Topf Olivenöl auf mittlerer Flamme erhitzen. Zwiebel, Knoblauch, Ingwer, Pfeffer, Paprikapulver und Nüsse hineingeben. 2–3 Min. anbraten bis Zwiebel und Nüsse leicht gebräunt sind.
  4. Kichererbsen, Tomaten, Möhren, Aprikosen/Rosinen, Zimt und Kurkuma zugeben.
    Umrühren und 2–3 Min. braten.
  5. Gemüsebrühe (oder Wasser und Gemüsebrühpulver) und Salz hinzufügen. Zum Kochen bringen und unter regelmäßigem Rühren 5 Min. dünsten.
  6. Couscous unterrühren. Auf niedrige Flamme zurückstellen, regelmäßig umrühren und halb abgedeckt
    5–7 Min. köcheln, bis der Couscous weich ist. Flamme abstellen und Topf abdecken.
  7. Fertig geröstete Kürbishälften aus dem Ofen nehmen und mit Couscousmischung füllen.
  8. Die gefüllten Hälften weitere 25–35 Min. im Ofen backen, bis die die Füllung goldbraun und an den Rändern knusprig ist.
  9. Mit frischer Minze oder Petersilie garnieren. Paprikapulver darüber streuen und servieren.

Variationen:
Würziger: Harissa statt oder mit Paprikapulver ist eine gute Idee. Italienisch: Thymian, Rosmarin und Oregano zugeben. Käsenote: Für einen nussigeren, käseähnlichen Geschmack Hefeflocken statt Gemüsebrühpulver verwenden. Kein Couscous: Statt Couscous bieten sich auch Quinoa, Gerste, Hirse oder Reis an. Manche Getreidesorten brauchen länger bis sie gar sind. Getrennt von Gemüse und Gewürzen
kochen (Wassermenge anpassen) und vor dem Backen der Füllung beimischen.

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

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Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna with smoked tofu and mushrooms - The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook

One of the most embarrassing moments in my life involved a giant baked vegan lasagne and the evil oven of a Jersey Shore rental apartment.

I was seventeen, living in Ocean City, New Jersey with about 5 (sometimes 10+) friends in a one-bedroom apartment a block from the beach and the boardwalk. It was the summer before my first year of college. I’d invited a girl I’d just met and was eager to impress, and I’d prepared this mega lasagna — enough to serve the roomful of people hanging out, too.

As I was pulling out the oven tray to remove the finished, steaming-hot lasagna, the tray popped out of the slots, forming the perfect slope aiming my giant lasagna right at the floor. I watched in horror as it slid — in slow-motion and way too hot to grab — tumbled off the metal tray, flipped over and landed top down. On the carpet. In front of everyone.

Did we eat it anyway? Heck, yeah. It was like a lasagna upside-down cake. I had to trash of the top layer, but managed to save the rest. Once I got over my initial embarrassment, we all laughed. And if my memory is correct, the lasagna was pretty tasty and we all liked it.

Zucchini Lasagna with smoked tofu and mushrooms - The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook

Zucchini-Lasagna– mit geräuchertem Tofu und Pilzen

(Rezept auf deutsch erscheint demnächst!)

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Carrot Ginger Zucchini Soup

Carrot Ginger Zucchini Soup

(2.0 recipe version, updated December 8, 2020)

I’ve been making variations of this vegan Carrot Ginger soup recipe for over fifteen years. The inspiration for the recipe came from my friend Monika, a former co-worker from South Africa whom I met when we were part-time English teachers at Berlitz Language School in our early years in a quite different, far less gentrified and commercial Berlin.

It’s been years since I heard from Monika– also a passionate cook, polyglot, and world adventurer. She had fantastic stories of doing research work with primates in the rainforests of Central America, and we regularly talked travel, came up with new destinations, and talked about unconventional life ambitions and all the wild characters in our lives. Whenever I make this soup, I always think of her and the early 2000s here in Berlin… meeting in sparsely-furnished Altbau flats (for a while she didn’t have a fridge and kept perishable food items outside the kitchen window in the cold), inviting our international friends, telling her techno-junkie neighbor to turn his raging music down, lunch meet-ups doing tech support on flailing iMacs, and most most memorably– picnics and hikes around the countryside lakes.

The recipe she gave me after a dinner party in Friedrichshain was for Carrot Ginger Pumpkin soup. I’ve modified her recipe over the years to include potato (for a vegan creamy texture) and soy milk instead of cream. I also often use other vegetables (in this case zucchini) instead of pumpkin.

I love to cook with what I have in the kitchen, and I still change up this soup accordingly all the time. This is an all-year soup that you can vary in thickness and spice according to weather and whim. Like thicker soups? Easy: Add less water. Not in the mood for thick wintery soup? No trouble: increase the water or soy milk slightly. It’s also easy to make a more South Asian version by increasing the appropriate spices, using fresh turmeric, and I’ve even turned this into a sort of dal (lentil) fusion soup adding a cup of cooked red lentils to the vegetables before puréeing. And if you want a more European and less Asian soup, drop or reduce the cumin and coriander and add lots of fresh thyme, basil, rosemary– and possibly some tomato paste or chopped tomatoes.

This soup works great as a starter served along with a healthy salad (such as my Arugula Pear Walnut salad favorite) warming up to a nice, hearty meal. It impresses guests every time and everyone always asks for more.

It’s also a hit for families and with kids. My son isn’t a big fan of fresh ginger, so I always dial that down and bit and often add cooked lentils. Like his dad, he’s kinda a Dal-aholic.

Double the soup and have enough for a few days. You won’t get bored of it, especially if you have plenty of good bread, tasty crackers, or your own tasty croutons. It can also be frozen and kept for a quick, delicious meal next week, or whenever when you’re too lazy to cook.

Carrot Ginger Zucchini Soup 2.0

serves 3 to 4 / time 30 min

  • 3 medium (300 g) carrots peeled, chopped
  • 3 medium (300 g) potatoes peeled, chopped
  • 1 medium (250 g) zucchini chopped
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small red (60 g) onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 in (3 cm) ginger finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin ground
  • 1 tsp coriander ground
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg ground
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1/2 tsp paprika ground
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) white wine or water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric ground
  • 1 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes optional 
  • 3/4 tsp salt more as needed
  • 1 cup (240 ml) soy milk
  • 3 cups (720 ml) vegetable broth
    or 3 cups (720 ml) water + 1 Tbs vegetable broth powder
  • fresh herbs for garnish
  1. Heat oil in large pot on medium heat. Add chopped onion, garlic, ginger, ground cumin, coriander, nutmeg, black pepper, and paprika. Mix well. Fry until garlic and onions are browned, 2–3 min.
  2. Add chopped carrots, potatoes, and zucchini. Mix well with spices, cook until browned, 3–5 min.
  3. Add lemon juice and 1/4 cup (60 ml) white wine (or water). Cook partially covered, stirring often,
    until all vegetables are soft, 7–10 min. Remove from heat.
  4. Transfer to a blender. Add soy milk and purée until smooth. (Alternately use an immersion blender.)
  5. Return purée to pot on medium heat. Stir in turmeric and nutritional yeast flakes (if using) and simmer 2–3 min.
  6. Stir in 2–3 cups (480–720 ml) vegetable broth (or water and broth powder) gradually, maintaining
    a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer to desired consistency, another 5–10 min,
    gradually adding more broth or water as needed.
  7. Continue to cook on medium low heat, reduce to desired consistency. Stir in salt, adjusting to taste.
  8. Garnish with fresh herbs and some ground paprika and black pepper.
  9. Serve with bread, croutons, or crackers.

Variations:

Vedic: Replace garlic and onions with 1/8 tsp asafoetida (hing) and 1 tsp black mustard seeds. Pumpkin: Replace carrots and zucchini with chopped pumpkin. Cashew creamy: Instead of soy milk, blend with 1 cup (240 ml) water and 2–3 Tbs cashews, ideally soaked for 30 min beforehand.

Recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – Vegan Recipes from World Adventures 2.0 (2021 – Ventil Verlag)