Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chickpea & Butternut Squash Stew with a Poached Egg

In my house—because there are only two of us....and because one butternut squash (even a small one) is typically too large for two people—one dinner featuring butternut squash is almost always followed in a day or two by another dinner featuring butternut squash. And I don't mind this at all. I love butternut squash. Besides being delicious, it is quite versatile. It can be roasted (whole or in pieces), braised, sautéed, or steamed. It's wonderful in soups or stews...on pasta or a salad...or as a side dish. Furthermore, it goes well with a long list of winter vegetables—greens like kale and chard, Brussels sprouts, onions (all kinds), root vegetables, mushrooms, and dried beans. I could probably eat it for several night's running and not get bored.

In my last post I shared what I made with the first half of a butternut squash. Today's post is about the second half—in a Moroccan-inspired vegetable stew. This stew has been in my regular winter rotation since last January when I found it in Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I have tweaked the recipe a bit to accommodate my personal tastes (smaller chunks of vegetables) and my pantry (instead of finishing the stew with Harissa I have incorporated a suitable mix of spices in the aromatic onion base and then finished the stew with some preserved lemon). I also thought this stew was begging for the added richness of a freshly poached egg

...but you could forgo this addition and still have a delicious dinner.

The contrast between this bright and spicy stew and the rich and savory pasta where my butternut squash made its first appearance could hardly be more "same old-same old" here. And both of these dishes are seasonal eating at its best: Each—in their own way—are a perfect antidote for a dark and cold January night.

Chickpea & Butternut Squash Stew with a Poached Egg

2 1/2 to 3 cups diced (3/4-inch) butternut squash
olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion (about 8 oz.), finely diced
3 or 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 t. caraway seed (toasted and ground)
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. paprika
1/2 t. coriander
1/8 t. cayenne
2 medium carrots (about 5 oz.), topped, tailed, peeled and thinly sliced (scant 1/4-inch)
1 14 oz. can plum tomatoes,—passed through a food mill, pulsed in the food processor or crushed with your hands
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 c. chicken stock (or water)—plus more as needed
1 or 2 pieces preserved lemon (pulp removed), finely julienned (optional)
3 eggs
2 to 3 T. thinly sliced fresh cilantro

Toss the squash with a scant tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400° to 425° oven until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Warm 2 T. of olive oil in a wide, deep sided pan set over medium heat. Add the onions along with a pinch of salt and cook until very soft and beginning to turn golden. Add the carrot, garlic and spices and toss to coat in the fat. Cook until fragrant—about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer until thick (10 to 15 minutes). Add the chickpeas and stock and simmer, covered until the carrots are tender—about 30 minutes. Add the roasted squash and preserved lemon, if using and cook another 5 minutes or so to heat the squash through and allow the flavors to blend. Add more stock or water if the stew is too thick. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Set the stew aside and keep hot while you poach the eggs.

Ladle the stew into warmed soup bowls, sprinkle with cilantro and top each with a poached egg. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately with some warm, crusty bread. Serves 3.

Note: The original recipe was twice this size...obviously you should feel free to make as large or as small a batch as you need. If you double it, you will be able to use the whole butternut squash.

Leftovers for lunch...with crumbled Feta instead of a poached egg.


Cindy said...

My husband and I just finished this dish for dinner. It is perfect on a cool fall day! The flavors are complex and the egg is a lovely touch. Thank you so much, Paige, for sharing your talents with us!

Paige said...

Hi Cindy, Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I'm so pleased you enjoyed the stew.