Dinner Tonight: Moroccan Lamb + Celery Root Puree

You would be hard pressed to find a more wintry meal than this. It celebrates our desire for hearty suppers with a warmly seasoned lamb stew, brightened by the sunny pleasures of citrus. An apple and celeriac puree lends the meal a rare and magical combination of rib-sticking-ness and physician-approved lightness. It's an exotic take on meat and potatoes that we're convinced will please every last person at the table, and perhaps the cook most of all because -- as always -- it comes together in under an hour.

The Menu

Moroccan Style Lamb by healthierkitchen


Serves 4 - 6

1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon raz el hanout (optional)
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups homemade or low or no sodium chicken stock
1 cup pitted prunes, halved if large
2 cups cubed butternut or acorn squash
1/2 cup Spanish green olives, pitted
2 teaspoons lemon zest, about one lemon (if you have preserved lemon, you can use the skin of 1/2, rinsed and minced)
3 teaspoons chopped parsley

1. Combine the salt, pepper and other spices in a large bow. Add the lamb pieces and toss to coat.

2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and brown the lamb chunks in batches, using additional oil as needed. Remove the lamb chunks to a plate as cooked. Remove some of the fat from the pan if a lot has rendered, leaving only a light coating.

3. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic, cooking until the onion has softened and become translucent, about 4 or 5 minutes.

4. Add the stock to the pan and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of pan.

5. Return the lamb to the pan, along with any juices, and add the prunes, squash, olives and lemon zest.

6. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, for 30 to 45 minutes, until the lamb is tender.

7. Taste for salt and pepper, and garnish with the parsley. Serve with whole wheat couscous.

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Autumn Celeriac Puree

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The Grocery List

Serves 4 generously

2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder
1 cup prunes
2 cups winter squash
(healthierkitchen suggests butternut or acorn)
1/2 cup green olives
Fresh parsley
1 celeriac (celery root)
1 potato
1 Granny Smith apple
Heavy cream

We bet you've got butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, bay leaf, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, and lemons. If not, you'll be needing all of that, too. It may sound like a lot, but once you load up, you'll basically have the start of a serious spice cabinet and, thus, the makings of many delicious weeknight meals.

The Plan

1. Both recipes come together with relative ease -- especially considering the seriously flavorful final products. However, the stew does need a bit more time, so begin with that.

2. Brown the lamb and set it aside. Add the aromatics and stock. Return the lamb to the pot along with the olives, prunes and zest. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.

3. Now turn your attention to the puree. It's a pretty basic preparation; if you've made mashed potatoes, you know what to do. Boil the vegetables, heat the cream, and whip it all together!

4. If all has gone well (and we bet it has) the lamb should be finished right around the same time as the puree. Serve and enjoy!

Photos by Sarah Shatz