I’ve only said it about thirty times, but in case I haven’t made it clear, I LOVE this time of year. I just went outside, at one o’clock in the afternoon, to fill up the bird feeders so my cat will have something to look at besides me (and consequently, I might spend a little less time with a cat draped over my keyboard), and it was chilly. It’s sunny outside, and it’s chilly. Glory be!
One of the main reasons I love it is the food. Halloween candy, winter squash, pumpkin spice coffee, more cinnamon than any human should ever consume, and always in the distance, the promise that we’ll light up the outdoor fireplace and make s’mores. (Amanda promises that this year, we’ll make it happen.)
In the spirit of the newly chilly weather here in Virginia, I have begun my soup/stew campaign. There’s just something about a big pot of delicious, hot, comforting soup/stew that makes the chill in the air even more spectacular. Last night, I used an acorn squash we got in our CSA a couple weeks ago to make a spicy, Moroccan-style stew that can easily be adjusted to be a vegetarian dish. (And y’all know I love making anything Moroccan-style.)
Spicy Acorn Squash Stew with Couscous
Recipe from We Heart Food
For the stew:
1 1/4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
6 canned plum tomatoes, crushed [Crush them with your hands=so satisfying]
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 acorn squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken broth, low-sodium canned
1-inch strip lemon zest
1/2 cup golden raisins
4 cups chopped spinach (about 5 ounces)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds [I left out the almonds]
For the couscous:
I used about a 1/3 cup of couscous, 1/2 cup chicken broth, dash of salt, dash of pepper, dash of olive oil. I’d just follow the instructions on the box to make the desired amount of couscous.
So, instructions for the stew:
“Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and spices and cook until the cinnamon stick unfurls and the tomatoes are cooked down, about 3 minutes. Add the squash, chickpeas, broth, lemon zest, and raisins and bring to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the squash is fork tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season, to taste.”
“Meanwhile, make the couscous. Bring the broth to a boil with the salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Stir in the couscous, pull the saucepan off the heat, cover, and set aside until the water has been absorbed and the couscous is plump, about 5 minutes.”
“Fluff the couscous with a fork and mound it in soup bowls. Spoon some butternut squash stew over each portion, top with almonds [if desired – cilantro would probably also be amazing], and serve.”
A word about the acorn squash: I try to control how often I make Amanda do the shit jobs in the kitchen. Like chopping onion. It happens, and I feel bad about it, so yesterday, I cried over the onions while she chopped the acorn squash. Advice from her endeavors: halve the squash, scoop out the guts, then slice the halves along the grooves. Then peel those slices. And BE CAREFUL with the knife. I kept waiting to turn around and find her gushing blood.
This stew is delicious, warm, hearty, and can easily be adapted to a vegetarian dish by using vegetable stock instead of chicken. What I really like is that the chickpeas have a chance to soften, becoming a bit more like a cooked bean (less pop, more give). The flavors are fantastic, the heat is all on the back end, and the couscous soaks up the juices and makes for a great, light whole grain. Plus, any time I can eat a whole clove of garlic and/or re-hydrated golden raisins, I’m a happy girl. Two big thumbs up from Soup/Stew Campaign Headquarters.
We’re gearing up for Food Porn Fridays again, but for us to run an album on Facebook, you 1) have to like Whisks & Words on Facebook and 2) email me your best food photos to firstname.lastname@example.org by 3pm tomorrow.