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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Butternut Squash Stew w/ Chickpeas, Raisins, & Almonds over Whole Wheat Couscous

Butternut Squash Stew w/ Chickpeas, Raisins, & Almonds over Whole Wheat Couscous
I have some fantastic, seasonal decorations hanging out on my kitchen counter.  And on my kitchen table.  And wherever else they happen to land.  They're the same ones I have every autumn.  And every winter.  They're totally seasonal - and the rich colors just scream warmth and comfort.  Now, they're not the exact same ones as I had last year.  Or the year before.  Wanna know why?  Because those are probably out in the compost pile turning into black gold and scoring me a few compost pumpkins and squash.

Have I lost you?  What I was trying so unsuccessfully to convey was that it is winter squash time.  Again.  Which for me means that it's time for some lovely decorating.  Because, while I buy these sturdy, oddly-shaped squashes in shades of brown, green, and orange with the best intentions...uummmm, cooking them...I rarely do.  They just sit around and look pretty.

The one exception is butternut squash.  It's my current favorite squash - probably because it's the easiest to work with.  Cut off tip and tail.  Whack it in half.  Scoop out the seeds.  Slice or chunk.  Roast.  I mean, I don't even peel it.  I love the way the skin turns all chewy after a long stay in the oven.  But yeah, those delicatas, acorns, hubbards, kabochas, and the ever-dreaded pumpkins (hard, hard, hard to cut)?  They just wind up looking pretty.
Butternut Squash Stew w/ Chickpeas, Raisins, & Almonds over Whole Wheat Couscous
Well I was bound and determined not to let that happen this year.  As I eyed the butternut squash and the acorn squash sitting on the counter, I made a vow - I will cook...and I will cook lots...with winter squash this year.  I will stop procrastinating and just do it, already.  And then I thought of Joanne.  Is that weird?  I thought of how she devotes 12 whole weeks a year to her winter squash.  And I knew that I had to do that, too.

So I gathered up my wits and formulated a plan.  It went something like this {summoning my inner Donkey}: shoot Jo an email to see if I could tag along this year.  Can I stay wi' chou?  Can I stay wi' chou...please?  Only I inserted the words "blog about winter squash" in place of "stay".

And she didn't even give me a hard time.  She could teach Shrek a thing or two about how to "get along".  I guess I pussed out a little bit by kicking these next 12 weeks off with a squash that I already admitted to cooking fairly regularly.  But.  I've never made it in this particular application before.  And you know, I already had one on the counter staring me down.  So.

Butternut Squash Stew w/ Chickpeas, Raisins, & Almonds over Whole Wheat Couscous
Hearty chunks of butternut squash and earthy chickpeas are the basis of this flavorful vegan stew served over whole wheat couscous.
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Butternut Squash Stew w/ Chickpeas, Raisins, & Almonds over Whole Wheat Couscous
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Keywords: simmer entree vegan squash raisins legumes couscous fall winter

Ingredients (serves 6)
    for the stew
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 small onions, chopped
    • 2 fat cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
    • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1 (14.5 oz.) can fire roasted diced tomatoes with their juices
    • ~2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded & diced (~3/4")
    • 1/4 c. raisins, one type or a mix
    • 3 c. vegetable stock (can sub chicken broth if not worried about vegan)
    • ~1 tsp. salt
    • 1 (15.5 oz.) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
    • handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
    for the couscous
    • 1 1/2 c. water
    • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat couscous
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, ~5 minutes. Add garlic, cayenne, nutmeg, and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute longer. Turn up the heat and add tomatoes with their juices, squash, raisins, broth, salt, and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer for 10 minutes longer. Turn off heat and stir in the parsley.

    Combine water and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover, and turn off heat. Let stand for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.

    Transfer couscous to a serving platter or to serving plates and top with stew. Scatter toasted almonds over the top. Enjoy!

    adapted from Food and Wine
    Butternut Squash Stew w/ Chickpeas, Raisins, & Almonds over Whole Wheat Couscous
    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you kick off twelve weeks of cooking with winter squash!  And now you should really go over and see how my partner-in-crime, Joanne of Eats Well With Others is starting our journey. I'll give you a hint - there's gnocchi, pumpkin, and radicchio involved!