North African flavours

North african vegetable stew cumin asparagus pepper tomato harissa wild rice.jpg

I love a warming, spicy vegetable stew that has simmered away on the stove for a couple hours. Served with the contrast of a nutty and rich grain such as wild rice. It's asparagus season in Southern France, so they go into pretty much everything right now, but you can omit that if it's not the season for it where you live.

3-4 servings

1 sweet yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 red bell pepper
1 aubergine
3-4 asparaguses
1 yellow squash
1 cup tomato sauce (100% tomatoes)
handful of green beans
half a cup chopped parsley
1 tsp harissa
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 cup water, or more
1 cup wild rice and whole grain rice mix
Parsley for garnish

Slice and chop up all vegetables into small cubes or slices. Sauté first the onion in olive oil or coconut oil, on low heat, for about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, and brown for a couple minutes. Add all the vegetables, let soften on medium heat, add half cup of water and let it all simmer for 10 minutes. Add parsley, salt, spices, harissa and the sesame seeds. Let simmer on low heat so that all flavours combine, add more water as needed, for at least 20 minutes, but the longer you keep it simmering, the better all flavours incorporate. Cook the rice according to package instructions, with 1 tsp salt.


The long dark brown wild rice is actually not a grain, but a reed-like semi-aquatic grass which grows in shallow water in small lakes, rivers, slow flowing streams and bays. Often, only the flowering head of wild rice rises above the water. The grain is eaten by dabbling ducks and other aquatic wildlife, as well as by humans.

Wild rice has got higher protein than other rice, and is also high in dietary fibre. It is also a good source of certain minerals and B vitamins. 

The antioxidant activity of wild rice was studied in research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry along with the journal Food Chemistry and was found to be up to 10 times greater than that of white rice, making it a great food to fight free radical damage. 

Folate is a member of the B vitamin family and naturally occurs in some foods, mainly leafy green vegetables, and pomegranate - my favourites. Wild rice is a great source of folate as well, which provides many benefits in and of itself. Folate is needed during rapid cell division and growth, which is why it’s important during pregnancy. In fact, pregnancy can actually double the need of dietary folate, but it’s important to note that folate and folic acid are not the same. Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate. So to help ensure a healthy pregnancy, I recommend going for the plants and wild rice to get your folate instead of folic acid supplements when possible.

Wild rice contains the important mineral magnesium that many people lack. By adding magnesium rich foods into your diet, you may be able to help prevent fatigue, as it’s usually harder for your cells to gain oxygen when you are magnesium deficient.

Since it’s a tough “grain” to produce, wild rice is often priced higher than many other grains. However, producers attempt to keep the price down by blending it with white rice and brown rice.