Sunday, November 3, 2013

Perfect Fall Meal

So let's just pick up where I left off....A LOT has been going on over here in Chicago. Work has been wild, I've been travelling like crazy. So when I finally get home, I never feel like cooking. And then I look at the mile high stack of recipes I've been ripping out of magazines for the past several years (it actually is about 7 inches thick...I'm neurotic, I know), and I realize I need to get back to it. I've been cooking and baking several delicious recipes that I haven't been documenting, but this past weekend in Chicago seemed to be particularly perfect.

The farmers' markets boxed up their tomatoes and pumpkins for the last time this season. I'm going to miss my Saturday morning trips, my fresh eggs, amazing tomatoes, grapes, oh just stop... :(

On the bright side, I have a new kitchen assistant!

His name is Pippy (the little white one), and we adopted him from PAWs, a really great adoption shelter in Chicago. He's been with us for three weeks, an it's adorable to see him opening up a little more every day. He follows Ellie around wherever she goes, watching her to see what she does. They aren't best friends YET, but we do catch them snuggling together on the couch.

The weather has been dropping and I have been digging up recipes for soups, stew, all things hearty and warm and filled with squash. I picked up a gorgeous butternut squash from the farmers' market and cooked up this chickpea and butternut squash stew by Martha Stewart. Served with some crusty bread from Pastoral, this stew made a hearty and surprisingly filling Sunday night dinner.

For dessert, I whipped up a surprisingly easy pumpkin mousse with whipped cream, also by Martha Stewart. The recipe was delicious, but I added some cinnamon and pumpkin pie spices to the mixture to heighten the flavor. And, of course, homemade whipped cream. It's so easy to make, why would you settle for the stuff in the can? Sugar, cream, and patience with an electric mixer (or a rag to clean up splatters)

Chickpea and Butternut Squash Stew

  • 1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1 1/2-inch irregularly shaped pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 8 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley stems
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 3/4-inch cubes or irregular shapes
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (either from dry beans or from two 15-ounce cans)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 4 teaspoons Harissa, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss well and roast until golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes.

In a large skillet or pot, warm remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in parsley stems, cumin, and paprika, and cook for 1 minute. Add carrots and 1 cup chickpea cooking liquid (or water, if using canned chickpeas) to onion mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add tomatoes and chickpeas. Raise heat to medium-high and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in harissa paste, chopped parsley leaves, roasted squash, and remaining 1/2 cup chickpea cooking liquid (or water). Simmer, uncovered, until flavors meld, another 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This dish comes together quickly, I'd definitely recommend it as a weeknight meal, too. And any leftovers just steep together for an enviable work lunch. I also thought leftovers might be good spooned over some pasta, but didn't get around to trying that.

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