This stew ticks all the January boxes.
If you read my last post, you know I have a problem with January, and if you didn’t now you do. I’m not at my best in cold weather, and I live in a big old house in the Northeast which isn’t easy to heat. If the weather’s not unseasonably warm, I spend most of the month dressed to climb Everest and wondering if winter feels like a hard slap in the face with a cold, wet fish to anyone else.
I don’t usually favor challenging food right now. What I need is healthy, nourishing comfort food, and lots of it. I want sympathetic food, ready to swaddle me in the edible equivalent of a thick, warm blanket and fill me with the rosy glow of everything’s okay. And I need to have the stuff on hand to make it whenever I want. Now’s not the time for impromptu trips to the grocery store where you jump in the car a’la Dukes of Hazard and roar into the sunset, banjos strumming in the background, to fulfill a sudden craving for fresh cilantro.
This stew is awesome January food, on many levels. One, it’s got the comfort thing down to a science. This stew will practically make you a cup of tea if you give it a chance. Two, it’s Moroccan spicy! Moroccan spice has a happy, warm, cinnamon-infused way about it, not as aggressive as Indian classics like curry powder or garam masala but just as bold. It wants you to cheer up, it wants you to smile, it wants to take you to sunny places where lemon and olive trees grow. Three, it uses a combination of fresh and pantry ingredients, so it’s easy to make when you like. The only fresh stuff that’s absolutely crucial is onion, bell pepper and mushroom, and they’re easy to keep around for a bit.
Some people are really hardcore about cleaning peppers, and I guess I am too sometimes, depending on what I’m making. For this stew and stuff like it, I’m generally not. Banishing all those cute little seeds takes time, plus they add fiber and rustic coolness.
Final observations: This is a big stew. The recipe makes so much you can eat it like it’s your job, which is fortunate because you’ll want to. It’s also vegan and A+ healthy (check out the nutrition info), so eating until you’re full is a job well done.
Moroccan-Spiced Veggie and Chickpea Stew
makes 4 enormous servings
2 Tbs olive oil
2 – 3 tsp Moroccan seasoning blend (I use McCormick Gourmet Moroccan Seasoning Blend (Ras El Hanout) because it’s at the grocery store, and also it’s great)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 – 1 tsp Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy
1 tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb or Onion and Herb
1/2 onion, sliced
1 1/2 c red/yellow/orange bell peppers, sliced
6 – 8 Crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 14 oz. can diced salt-free tomatoes
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs peanut butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 16 oz. bags of your favorite frozen veggies, thawed (I used a snap pea stir fry and a broccoli stir fry)
1 cup cooked chickpeas (if using canned, rinse well)
1. Thaw the frozen veggies according to package instructions. Heat the olive oil on medium-low in a large cooking pot. Add the Moroccan seasoning blend, paprika, garlic powder and Mrs. Dash. Turn the heat to low.
2. Slice the onion and stir it into the oil and seasonings. Edge the heat up medium and let them cook, stirring occasionally, while you slice the peppers. Stir the peppers in and let them cook while you slice the mushrooms. Stir them in, turn the heat back down to medium-low, put a lid on and let everything cook for around 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the tomatoes, brown sugar, peanut butter and pumpkin puree. Turn the heat back up to medium and let the sauce mellow and cook through for 5 minutes or so. Stir in the veggies and chickpeas, put the lid on, turn the heat to low and let everything simmer for maybe 10 minutes before serving. If you can’t eat right away, just turn the heat off and heat it back up when you’re ready.
Per serving, about 533g: 313 calories (88 calories from fat); 9.8g fat (15%)(1.5g sat, 0g trans); 0mg cholesterol (0%); 114mg sodium (5%); 40.2g carbohydrates (13%); 8.0g fiber (32%); 8.1g protein; Vitamin A 265%; Calcium 8%; Vitamin C 104%; Iron 26%