Spiced Broccoli, Chickpea, and Squash Stew

This started out as a challenge to make a filling and delicious fall vegan stew and boy did it succeed. When cooking vegetarian/vegan food, I've found the key is to build layers of flavors, especially those that involve browning. This stew has several forms of that and is what makes it taste so full and rich. It's also easy to customize with different vegetables, beans, and liquid, which makes it great to use up whatever's in the fridge. Yields 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium heads broccoli
  • 1 large kabocha or butternut squash
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil (divided into 2T and 4T), plus extra
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 large or 2 medium parsnips
  • 2 large onions
  • 5 to 7 cloves garlic
  • 2-inch knob ginger
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons favorite Middle Eastern/South Asian spice blend (I use Baharat)
  • 6 cups liquid (water, vegetable stock, chicken stock, or any combination thereof)
  • 13 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas
  • Salt to taste

Hardware:

  • Box grater
  • Dutch oven
  • Sheet pans

Instructions:

  1. Heat an oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with foil for easy cleanup. 
  2. Cut the florets from the broccoli head. If you like the stem, peel and slice, reserving for later. If using kabocha, halve then cut each half into quarters. Carefully peel each quarter using a knife, then cut into 1-inch chunks.
  3. Place the broccoli (minus the sliced stem) on one baking sheet, and toss with 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt. Place the squash on the other baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for about 20 to 30 minutes, until tender and browned. Once done, set aside for later.
  4. Meanwhile, wash, top, and tail the carrots and parsnips. Grate the carrot and parsnips on the large holes of a box grater; alternatively you can mince. Dice onions. Roughly mince garlic. Peel and mince the ginger. Chop off and discard the bottommost inch of cilantro stems, then finely mince the stem up to the bottommost leaves. Divide the bunch of leaves in half and chop one half, reserving the other half for garnish. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and set aside.
  5. In a dutch oven, heat the remaining ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) oil over medium heat until rippling. Add the onion, carrot, and parsnip with a big pinch of salt and sauté for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and carrots and parsnip are softening.
  6. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté, stirring often, until the mixture has reduced in volume, is dark brown, and is starting to char, about 20 to 30 minutes more. If the pan becomes dry, don't be afraid to add a couple more tablespoons olive oil.
  7. Add the tomato paste and minced cilantro stems and sauté another 5 to 10 minutes until dark brown again, stirring often.
  8. Add the liquid and coconut milk, and scrape up the browned bits (aka fond) on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
  9. Add the chickpeas, roasted broccoli, and roasted squash. Stir well, taste for seasoning, and simmer another 5 minutes until heated through. Serve over sticky brown rice. and garnish with more cilantro.