In case I haven’t made it clear, there are very few things I look forward to about winter in New England. The quaint charm of fireplaces and first snow falls, quickly give way to long waits for the train in frigid temperatures, a drafty house, and too many days spent indoors. I will not pretend however that I don’t love winter foods. Stews, casseroles, thick soups, homemade breads and frothy warm beverages are just a few of treats we look forward to when the outside world becomes intolerable. In December we stock up on tea, coffee and hot chocolate and my slow cooker returns to its winter spot on the counter.
Last night we returned from our visit to the [warmer] south and were immediately catapulted back into reality with a Wednesday filled with school, doctors appointments, packing for our move and lots of work to catch up on. Luckily this morning, I had the foresight to plan ahead for dinner and threw together this recipe for moroccan stew. Fifteen minutes of chopping and sauteeing, will yield this delicious and hearty – but not heavy -slow cooker stew.
Moroccan-Inspired Vegetable and Chickpea Stew, from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson
1 Tbs olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 small yellow or red bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp peeled, minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups slow cooked, or one 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Once 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup mied dried fruit (apricots, apple slices, raisins, currants etc)
1/4 cup green olives, drained, halved and pitted
1 Tbs chopped parsley leaves
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, and turmeric and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds to bring out the flavors.
Transfer the mixture to a 4-6- quart slow cooker. Add the green beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, stock and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.
About 20 minutes before serving add peas and dried fruit.
When ready to serve, stir in the olives and sprinkle with the parsley. Taste to adjust the seasonings and serve hot.