Crock Pot Chickpea, Lentil, and Butternut Squash Stew

Stew3It’s finally beginning to look like autumn in northwest Oregon. After a long, drawn-out summer of sunshine and temperatures in the 80s (not that I’m complaining), the mornings are getting chillier and the weather prediction for this week is rain, rain, rain. I have to admit that I love the crisp autumn weather, but after a day or two of rain I’m ready for sun again. I think I was spoiled with an unusually sunny summer at home in Washington, and I’m dreading all the the bleak, gray days to come.

The clear, cool days are my favorites. My college campus has a huge variety of trees, and this time of year is so beautiful. I love walking to class under a canopy of shocking red trees, or sitting on a bench and having a leaf fall onto my head. On my morning runs I like to look at all houses decked out in spooky Halloween decorations, and our little apartment is covered in pumpkin/ghost/witch/skeleton paraphernalia. Fall also signals the beginning of soup season, and I’ve been loving my little red Crock Pot more than ever!Stew2

This Chickpea, Lentil, and Butternut Squash Stew is the most perfect fall meal. Despite being vegetarian, it’s packed full of hearty protein and fabulous flavor. The recipe makes about 8 servings, and since I’m only one person I got to enjoy it for 8 meals. You’d think I’d get tired of eating the same lunch and dinner for 4 days in a row, but not with this stew! I actually looked forward to eating it again and again and was sad when it was all gone. The combination of chickpeas, lentils, sweet vegetables, spicy jalapeño and warm curry spices is wonderful, and the longer you cook the stew the thicker it gets. It’s comfort in a bowl, I tell you!

Last Thursday my car battery decided to die, and after a long day of racing back and forth between Les Schwab and classes it felt awesome to walk into the door to a fragrant slow-cooker full of hot stew. Sometimes a good meal is all it takes to brighten up a hard day. Add this fantastic crock-pot meal to your dinner repertoire! It’s great any time of the year!Stew

Crock Pot Chickpea, Lentil, and Butternut Squash Stew

Makes 6-8 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon garam masala (or curry powder)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 cup brown lentils

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

32 ounces vegetable broth

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cilantro, for serving (optional)

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, carrot, and jalapeño for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Add in the garlic and sauté for another minute or so. Stir in the garam masala (and cayenne pepper, if you like spice).

Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Add in the butternut squash, lentils, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and broth. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and top with chopped cilantro if desired.

(Recipe adapted from Eat Live Run)

Advertisements

Black Bean, Chicken, and Red Pepper Stew

After an unseasonably warm September, which to Pacific-Northwesterners like me means temperatures over 60 degrees and more than 5 days of sunshine in a row, fall has finally arrived!  Today the thermometer hasn’t gotten past 52 degrees and I woke up to that familiar feeling of being inside a cloud.  Gray skies, moist air, and the sound of fog horns resonating from the harbor all the way up to my house a mile away.  Basically the kind of weather we get about 200 days a year.  And it comes with that cold, clammy wetness that seeps into your bones and stays there for perpetually 7 months.  I’m sure by now you’re all just dying to move to the Pacific Northwest, right?

Actually, it’s not all that bad.  I’m just highlighting all of the bad features and keeping the good ones to myself so that you won’t all pack up and move to my island and overpopulate it and take over all the good beaches and build a bunch of houses on my favorite trails and go around asking a bunch of ridiculous tourist questions.  Because we islanders are very, very unfriendly.  And the weather really does suck. (See what I did there?)

Kidding.  Anyway, I’m actually excited because cooler weather means that fall is here!  The  leaves have turned beautiful colors and started to fall, pumpkins are appearing outside the grocery stores, and Halloween decorations/recipes/crafts are all over Pinterest.  That last one is what really clued me in that autumn is among us.  Hah.

Anyway, along with this cooler weather comes an overwhelming desire for me to make lots of warm stew, soup, and chili.  Which I have done.  I’ve made several different stews/soups/chilis this fall, but they keep getting eaten up before I can snap a picture!  Sad.  But don’t worry, because I did manage to get a picture of the last bowl of this Black Bean, Chicken, and Red Pepper Stew!  And I’m so glad I did, because this recipe is just too good not to post.  The combination of beans, chicken, roasted peppers, green chiles, and cilantro (among other good things) makes for a seriously delicious stew.  It was so thick and hearty that it reminded me of a chili, but with a little more broth and fresher flavors.  This is a perfect meal to warm you up on a chilly fall day, and I’m sure I’ll be making it many more times throughout the cold months ahead!

Black Bean, Chicken, & Red Pepper Stew

2 Tbs olive oil, divided

2 large chicken breasts, cut into small chunks

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes

1 12-oz jar roasted red peppers, diced (or 1 large fresh roasted pepper)

1 4-oz can diced mild green chiles

2 14-oz cans chicken broth

2 Tbs cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander seed (optional, but adds great flavor)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or paprika, if you can’t take the heat)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook, stirring often, until browned and cooked through.  Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken pieces to a separate bowl.  Set aside.

Drain the juices out of the pot and heat up the second Tbs of oil.  Add in the onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add in the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute or so.  Next, stir in the black beans, diced tomatoes, roasted peppers, green chiles, chicken broth, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper.

Heat the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer.  Simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until stew reaches desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in the fresh cilantro.  Serve.

(Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats)