Photo credit: Emily Paster
Prep Cook Serves Ready In
15 minutes 35 minutes 6 50 minutes

Couscous with Seven Vegetables Recipe

A celebration of seasonal produce and the new year.

Seven is a lucky number in many religions, including Judaism. The world was created in seven days; together, the patriarchs and matriarchs add up to seven; at a Jewish wedding, there are seven blessings; and so on.

It is no wonder, then, that on Rosh Hashanah — when we try to do everything we can to ensure good luck for the coming year — there is a tradition of eating seven vegetables. Among North African Jews, especially those of Moroccan origin, Couscous with Seven Vegetables is a traditional and cherished Rosh Hashanah dish. The couscous has a special significance: the many tiny grains represent a wish for a year with countless blessings.

With many of us rethinking our Rosh Hashanah celebrations this year, it seems fitting to change up the traditional holiday fare. 

Rosh Hashanah occurs at a time of year when many vegetables are at their peak, such as squash and root vegetables, which are perfect for this dish. The vegetables in the recipe are only a suggestion — feel free to play around, just make sure you have a variety of textures and flavors.

Moroccan food is highly seasoned, but not spicy. So you will notice a wide range of spices in this dish, from paprika to cinnamon. I highly recommend seeking out the North African spice blend ras el hanout. When added at the end of cooking, ras el-hanout adds sweet, earthy and even floral notes to your dish. That’s because it is a mix of many different ingredients including pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cumin, cardamom pods, rose petals, and grains of paradise. You can find ras el-hanout at a good spice shop, a grocery store with a good spice selection (like Whole Foods, which does carry their own) or online.

Photo credit: Emily Paster

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, halved and cut into wedges
  • 2-3 small turnips, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp ras el-hanout
  • 2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • handful slivered almonds (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 box instant couscous 

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the garlic and tomatoes and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and spices, and stir to combine. Sauté the mixture for a few additional minutes until fragrant, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
  3. Add the red peppers, zucchini, turnips, carrots, and squash, as well as the broth or water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove cover and add chickpeas. Simmer until chickpeas are heated through and stew is thickened, another 5-10 minutes. (May be done ahead up to this point.)
  5. Meanwhile, make couscous according to package directions. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff couscous with a fork to break up any clumps.
  6. Just before serving, add the ras el-hanout to the stew. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  7. To serve, spread the couscous on a platter or shallow dish with a well in the middle. Spoon the vegetable stew over the couscous. Garnish with chopped parsley and slivered almonds, if using.

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