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Tunisian Root Vegetable Stew for Passover: Vegetarian Msoki

This recipe is my vegetarian take on the culinary highlight of the Tunisian Passover table: Msoki.

Jewish holidays and festivities have a vibe. One of my favorite feelings in the world is stepping into a space and being overwhelmingly greeted by the atmosphere of celebration– something different about the air quality, something special and exhilarating all around that can almost tangibly be understood. The warmth of an oven cooking for hours, the buzz of chatter, the vibrancy of a perfectly set table, and perhaps most significantly, the smell. When flavors and textures mix, simmer, linger, and delight, breathing becomes like tasting. The smell of a dish only cooked once a year, the scents of joy, abundance, energy, power, collaboration, nurture, and nostalgia. A whiff of tradition, spices representing collective journeys, aromas evoking childhood hunger and hope. Holidays smell like home.

This recipe is my vegetarian take on the culinary highlight of the Tunisian Passover table: Msoki. Passover is incomplete without this flavorful, savory, herb-heavy stew that elevates the many luscious root vegetables spring has to offer. The key to this festive stew is chopping all of the vegetables small and uniformly. I included the vegetables that I could find locally in Brooklyn, but below you will see I suggest adding a few others. This rendition also calls for slow cooking the Msoki in a crockpot so that the process can start in the morning and the delicious smell and warmth of spring can rise up and spread as other elements of the meal are prepared. Slow cooking also adds to the depth of flavor. May this root vegetable stew help you feel grounded, sturdy, and nurtured as the seasons change and as we continue to embark on our every winding road to the promised land.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, diced

1 tablespoons turmeric

2 carrots

2 turnips

2 medium potatoes

2 leeks

3 celery sticks

1 zucchini

2 cups fava beans, shelled

1/4th cabbage

3-5 cups swiss chard or spinach

5 garlic cloves, diced

½ cup or 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped

½ cup or 1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

¼ cup or 1 bunch of mint leaves, finely chopped

1 cinnamon stick

2 tablespoons harissa

Salt and pepper to taste

3-5 cups vegetable broth

(optional vegetables to consider adding: fennel and kohlrabi)

Procedure:

  1. On the stove, saute diced onions in olive oil. Add turmeric and stir until the onion begins to become translucent and the turmeric smells fragrant.* Add to crockpot
  2. Cut all vegetables into small pieces or cubes if possible. Add to crockpot with onions
  3. Shell fava beans and add to pot
  4. Add diced garlic, finely chopped herbs, cinnamon stick, and harissa
  5. Add broth until vegetable mixture is covered
  6. Stir all ingredients together and cook on high for 6 hours, or until vegetables become tender and herbs have released their flavor
  7. Top with matzah and/or fresh herbs to serve

*If you do not have a crockpot, you can saute the onions in a large pot and add all the other ingredients to the pot, including the vegetable broth. Bring stew to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 min or until vegetables become tender.

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