Spiced Chickpea Stew with Butternut Squash & Spinach

spiced chickpea stew with butternut squash and spinach in a shallow brown bowl, a small white bowl to the side holds a cucumber slaw to top the stew with. the bowls are arranged on a blue and red tablecloth, with a small pot of ras el hanout and a tub of black nigella seeds.

A can of chickpeas, an onion, and some garlic make up the most unassuming of all blank canvases for a meal. These three homely ingredients become something special when combined, add in other pantry staples and spices and a meal worthy of casual company can come together quickly and without fuss. For this Spiced Chickpea Stew I made excellent use of frozen butternut squash and spinach, although fresh would work just as well. I’m going for convenience when making a recipe like this one. This recipe will keep for several days in the fridge, I generally eat it as written for a day or two before I begin adding in little extras to stretch out the leftovers. Mashed sweet potatoes or carrots  are lovely when mixed into this stew, rub chicken thighs with Ras El Hanout and olive oil and serve alongside the stew, or stir in a generous spoonful of this garlicky cashew cream with lime and cilantro. If there’s anything else I love more than a hearty stew it’s a crunchy, sweet, and tangy slaw to serve alongside (or on top!) of the chickpeas. The nigella seeds in the slaw aren’t strictly necessary, I’ve been using them a lot in salads lately and I find they complement the flavour of so many other ingredients I love, they look so pretty and they have such a lovely bright citrus flavour. The fun in this recipe is its flexibility, it’s a dream of a meal to put together when you have a the basic ingredients and a handful of miscellaneous items hanging about in the kitchen.

spiced chickpea stew with butternut squash & spinach:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small red onion, diced into small pieces

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup fresh or frozen butternut squash, cubed

1 red sweet pepper, diced into small pieces

1 Tbsp. Ras El Hanout or Garam Masala or curry powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. coriander

1 can of chickpeas, liquid reserved

3/4 cup vegetable stock

1 bunch of spinach or 1/2 package of frozen spinach

Generous amount of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic, butternut squash cubes, red sweet pepper and cook until the vegetables start to soften.
  2. Add the Ras El Hanout (or spice blend of your preference), cumin, coriander, and a generous pinch of salt and cook with the vegetables for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the entire can of chickpeas, including the liquid (this will help thicken the stew) and the vegetables stock. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until some of the liquid has evaporated, stirring in the spinach to cook  over the last few minutes.
  4. Serve the stew piping hot with a dollop of Greek yogurt or at room temperature with a side of Orange Cucumber Slaw with Nigella Seeds.

orange cucumber slaw with nigella seeds:

1 small cucumber, pulp removed and sliced into thin half moons

1 orange, zested and juiced

Drizzle of olive oil

2 Tbsp. scallion greens, sliced thinly

1 small bunch of parsley, finely snipped with scissors

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

1 tsp. nigella seeds

Pinch of dried chilies

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, gently stirring to combine. Serve with Spiced Chickpea Stew with Butternut Squash and Spinach (or, stuffed into a pita with shredded chicken, butter lettuce, and mayonnaise mixed with a small amount of orange juice and zest).

Flowing slowed down shimmery songs like this one have always been a weakness of mine, I blame it on an early obsession with Mazzy Star, Belly’s sophomore album King, and Suzanne Vega.

The Black Ryder – Let Me Be Your Light

 

 

Warm Pita Topped with Caramelized Onions and a Fried Egg

Eggs and Caramelized Onions

There’s something to be said about a meal that is inexpensive to make, elegant to look at, and exceptionally easy to eat. This all-in-one recipe is great for nights when you get home from your run after work, sopping wet from the rain and in dire need of a shower and a warm pair of pyjamas. The ingredients are ones that might be lingering in your fridge and pantry even if your grocery shopping trip is a week overdue. Pita can be substituted with store bought naan or even thickly sliced and toasted sourdough bread. Any knob of leftover cheese that’s languishing in your crisper will work in this recipe, I’ve listed a few of my favourites but truly feel free to use anything you like. Fresh basil isn’t a strict requirement, you could omit it all together or you could use fresh parsley, dill, chives, or thyme. Generally you’ll need about one medium sized onion per person so adjust accordingly, changing the number of eggs and pita bread to suit the number of people you’ll be feeding.

warm pita topped with caramelized onions and a fried egg:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

2 medium sized onions, I like to use 1 red onion and 1 yellow sweet onion

5 scallions, whites and greens cut into small pieces

2 cloves of garlic, minced

A good pinch of kosher salt

150 g of cheese, grated or crumbled (my favourites include old white Cheddar, Gruyere, Asiago Pressato, or Macedonion feta)

2 pita breads

Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

About 6 basil leaves, cut in a thin chiffonade

2 extra large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a heavy skillet melt the oil and butter together over medium heat. Add all of the onions, scallions, garlic, and generous pinch of kosher salt.

2. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the onions, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until a deep, sticky brown colour (this takes upwards of an hour, just reduce the heat further if the onions seem to be cooking too quickly). When the onions are completely cooked scrape them into a bowl and return the still greased skillet back to the heat.

3. Wrap the pita bread in aluminum foil and warm up in the oven for 10 minutes. While the pita gets soft and warm, fry the eggs in the skillet until they’re cooked just the way you like.

4. Layer the pita bread, warm caramelized onions, grated or crumbled cheese, fried egg, and finally the fresh basil and pepper. Take the civilized route and eat with a knife an fork, or fold it onto itself and eat messily as is with your hands.

Brian Eno always sounds like such a skilled escape, a soft implosion into the dreamiest dream place you could ever hope to land in. I need that in my life right now, for my inner life to act as a cushion for all of the things happening around me. Safe and floaty, that’s the name of my brain’s motto right now.

Brian Eno – Deep Blue Day