Normal people, when moving to a new place (and certainly when moving to a new state) attempt to eat up all of their food–both perishable and non-perishable–before vacating their current abode. I, as we all know, am not a normal person.
Thus, I found myself moving into my new house with not one, but TWO shelves full of food in the pantry (not to mention a stash of cereal hidden away at the bottom), as well as a cupboard full of baking supplies, a shelf devoted to nut butters, and a large collection of spices—both in bottles, and in random pouches shoved into this plastic container.*
I’m not ashamed, as food is expensive, and even though I sent many Random Snacks of Kindness
packages, it’s hard to get rid of miscellaneous bags of spice. I mean, what is someone going to do with a random pouch of caraway seeds after they’ve made Apfelkraut Slaw
to pair with Bratwurst Pizza
*Aside from throw it in a random tupperware container with all theo ther unused spices and seasoning blends…
Consult a cookbook. Obviously.
Because the lovely people at Moosewood
are the vegetarian gods of all things, um, vegetarian, I knew they would provide me with inspiration the moment I checked this book out of the library.* What I didn’t
know was that caraway seeds are used very commonly in Tunisian cooking.
*Note to y’all: Check cookbooks out of the library! Save yourself some shelf space and money by perusing to your hearts content, sticky-noting up a storm, and not feeling bad when you never make anything you’ve marked!
Inspiration found. Ingredients scavanged.
I altered the recipe based on what I had on hand, as the whole goal (which I didn’t really make clear) was to cook something without buying even MORE food. Instead of butternut squash, I used a combination of diced rutabaga* and sweet potato.
*Can we take a moment and address the question on everyone’s mind: Who buys and carries canned rutabaga across state lines? [And where can I get some more???^]
^I don’t know. I’ve only seen it once, and never seen it since. Substiute fresh…or something else entirely.
I substituted red onion for a sweet yellow one since my new roommate had one in the crisper and after friendly text inquiring as to the onion’s future, I was able to secure it for my own uses.
The choice of an Anaheim chile over any other (Moosewood
was very unspecific about just what sort of chile you might want to use) was also due to a deep sea dive discovery in the fridge.
Using a yellow bell pepper only added to the Crayola effect of this stew.
Of course, I realize that I have missed the integral “Sarah cuts a yellow bell pepper” photo…but the pieces are there. See them?
As for diced tomatoes, I practically carry cans of those around in my purse*…and if the Hummus Queen doesn’t have immediate access to garbanzos at all times, well, someone shouldn’t be calling herself the Hummus Queen, now should she?
*And I’m not being sarcastic.
Along with caraway seeds (they aren’t just for Germans anymore!), Tunisian cuisine features coriander and my beloved cumin.
Why not throw some cinnamon in there, too? [Goooooood morning, Vietnam!]
Even if you aren’t into the whole “rye bread” thing,* you’ll appreciate the way that the caraway subtly adds a little “WTH is going on here?” to this bowl of warmth and goodness.
*Which, I just made a ‘thing’ by putting it into quotation marks.
Cilantro is optional, of course, but when you’re already messing with the minds of your tastebuds, what’s one more flavor profile?
Tunisian Chickpea Stew
[Inspired by the “Tunisian Chickpea Stew” from The Moosewood Restaurant: Cooking for Health]
1 medium red onion, chopped [about 2 cups]
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. finely diced Anaheim chile
1 cup finely diced, peeled sweet potato
1 cup finely diced rutabaga
1 yellow (or red, or green, or orange) bell pepper, diced [about 1 cup]
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. caraway seed
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-oz. can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)
1. Sautee onion, garlic, and chile in a wee bit of oil (or steam in a wee bit of water) until onion softens and becomes translucent.
2. Add sweet potato, rutabaga, and bell pepper, along with all of the spices, and stir well to combine.
3. Cook 3-5 minutes, then add chickpeas, tomatoes, vegetable broth, and water.
4. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and rutabaga are cooked through and ‘biteable.’
5. Serve with fresh cilantro, if desired.
[As with all stews and soups I concoct, I recommend waiting a day to eat this…or making it in the morning and letting it chill out until dinner, when reheating will do wonders for the flavor!]