I had the pleasure of writing a recipe for this month's issue of BBC Good Food, and the second they came to me I knew the answer had to be a simmered stew with few ingredients but bold flavors. This recipe is completely vegetarian and quite simple to make, but results in a dish that has an incredible warmth and depth of flavor. The most important thing is to taste the broth frequently and adjust spices and seasonings accordingly. It should be very flavorful and aromatic, with a slight kick that comes through strong at the end. The spices add a beautiful vibrancy that is deeply comforting and tastes as if it had simmered all day, but as you will soon find out, it is painfully easy to prepare (but no one need to know that!).
• 1 Bay leaf
• 1 Teaspoon ground ginger
• 1Tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/2 Teaspoon turmeric
• 1 Tablespoons harissa paste
• 1 Teaspoon ground coriander
• 2 Cups of previously soaked chickpeas (or two cans of rinsed chickpeas, preferably organic)
• 1 Tablespoon of thyme leaves (removed from stem and roughly chopped)
• 1 finely minced garlic clove
• 5 Tablespoons of olive oil
• 4 Cups vegetable stock
• 1 Lemon, zest and cut into wedges
• 1 Cup butternut squash (cut into large cubes)
• 4 Roma tomatoes
• 1 Bunch Tuscan kale (roughly chopped)
• 1/2 Cup roughly chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
• 1/4 Cup Feta cheese
• 2 Teaspoons fennel seeds
• 1 Yellow onion (sliced)
• Salt (preferably Maldon or kosher)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Slice tomatoes in half and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a lined baking sheet and roast in oven until soft and juices have extracted, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
3. In a large heavy bottomed pot add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, squash, thyme, garlic, and onions. Season generously and cook on medium-low heat until onions have sweat and squash has begun to soften (about 15 minutes) Do not let onions brown!
4. Once squash and onions have cooked, add roasted tomatoes, chickpeas, 1 lemon peel, andfirst 7 ingredients. Season to taste and add stock. Bring to a boil on high heat, then set to medium low and let simmer covered for 30- 35 minutes (until liquid has reduced and flavors have developed)
5. In a small bowl add feta, remaining olive oil and zest of one lemon. Mix well and set aside.
6. In a small pan add fennel seeds and cook on dry and high heat until the aroma begins to release and seeds are slightly toasted (about 1 minute) lightly crush in a mortar and pestle or in a bowl with the back of a wooden spoon.
Add chopped kale and cilantro and let cook for 2 minutes (do not let kale get too tender)
7. Place stew in a bowl and top with a scoop of feta mixture, additional cilantro leaves, toasted fennel and salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.
Modified version of recipe featured in BBC Good Food May Issue
Photo courtesy of BBC Good Food, Photograph by Rob Streeter