Are you proud of yourself for eating more vegetables? For cutting out some of that red meat, sugar and endless carbs? I know I am.

Of course, it’s hard to go cold turkey; there is just too much to enjoy. For instance, for Valentine’s Day, Lance got us chicken Alfredo, eggplant Parmesan and a huge slice of tiramisu. The vegetable was in there somewhere, I’m sure. After that coma-inducing meal, I was ready to cook something hearty but healthy.

Enter a vegan stew. Moroccan, with a particular blend of accessible spices. Still Mediterranean.

It starts with roasting, which you know transforms flavor and texture, and continues with the lovely, fragrant spice mix featuring turmeric (stunning color) and cinnamon (triggers holiday memories). The versatile chickpeas pack tons of protein.

I like to add coconut milk to make it creamy. And those toppings — like any soup or stew, these just finish it perfectly with sour and sweet, crunchy and chewy.

Next up, preserved lemons. I had seen these in some specialty stores, and they were super expensive. I didn’t realize they were just pickled lemons, pickled in their own juices. How easy is that?

The recipe takes only a few minutes to prepare but three to four weeks sitting in the fridge to soften and transform. They add a bit of tang and brightness to dishes. Tune in next month, and we will use them together.


Roasted cauliflower and chickpea stew

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 whole head cauliflower, divided into small florets
  • 5 medium-sized bulk carrots, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced roasted tomatoes with its juice
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (optional)
  • Toasted slivered almonds (optional)
  • Dried cherries, apricots, dates (optional)

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the spices.

Place the cauliflower florets and carrot pieces on a large lightly oiled baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little more than half of the spice mixture. Drizzle generously with olive oil, then toss to make sure the spices evenly coat the cauliflower and carrots.

Bake in the heated oven for 20 minutes or until the carrots and cauliflower soften and gain some color. Remove from the heat and set aside for now. Turn the oven off.

In a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and saute for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and the remaining spices. Cook on medium-high for 2 to 3 more minutes, stirring constantly.

Now add the chickpeas and canned tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the roasted cauliflower and carrots. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook for another 20 minutes. Be sure to check the stew, stir occasionally and add a little water if needed.

Remove from the heat and transfer to serving bowls, or stir in coconut milk before serving (optional). Garnish with fresh parsley and the toasted nuts (optional). Enjoy hot over some quick-cooked couscous or with a side of warm pita bread.


Preserved lemons

  • 8 large lemons
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 4-5 dry bay leaves
  • Fresh lemon juice of 7-8 lemons, (about 2 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice)

Cut about 1/4 inch off the top and bottom of the lemons. Cut each lemon into quarters partially through so that they remain connected at the bottom.

Transfer the lemons to a large bowl and toss well with the salt and sugar. Open up the lemons some and stuff them with the kosher salt and sugar mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight and up to 24 hours; the lemons will release some juice.

The next day, transfer the lemons and their juices to a large, sterilized canning jar. Press them down firmly into the jar. Add the peppercorns and bay leaves. Top with fresh lemon juice (the goal is to submerge the lemons in the juice).

Seal the jar shut and store in the fridge for 3 weeks to 1 month before consuming.

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Josie Mai is a culinary artist and in-home chef. See her on Facebook and Instagram as Josie Mai Personal Chef or at