Hot Stew on a Cold Winter Night in Vermont

I was away in Vermont this weekend. I went with a group of friends for a skiing /snowboarding /snowshoeing/ outdoor adventuring get-away and we stayed in one of our favourite vacation rentals, the Octagon. This is the third time my group of friends has rented this gorgeous cabin in Enosburg Falls and I'm sure it won't be the last. 

Photo courtesy of my friend Marie-Pierre. She says the stew pairs nicely with a glass of red. 

Prior to leaving Ottawa, we planned our our meals and divvied up breakfast, lunch and dinner responsibilities.  I was in charge of the meal for our first night.  I wanted to make something rich and hearty to make sure we were all adequately fuelled with healthy proteins, carbs and fats for our active weekend.  I also wanted to make something that was relatively quick and easy so that I wouldn't be spending my first night in Vermont slaving away in the kitchen.  Whenever I'm pressed for time and craving something filling, I always opt for a stew with side of healthy whole grains. This weekend I made a curried chickpea and sweet potato stew with brown rice. Since there were 12 of us, I made a HUGE batch and there was more than enough for all of us to have second helpings. In the recipe below, I reduced the portions quite a bit to make about 6 to 8 servings. 

This stew is very easy, BUT since there are so many veggies there is some chopping involved. To be quicker and efficient, I recommend chopping the items in the order they are listed below and to have most of the veggies chopped prior to starting the stew. I also recommend starting the rice just before you turn on the stove for the stew as it can take about 45 minutes to cook. 

I hope you like this stew as much as we did. Bon appétit!

CURRIED CHICKPEA SWEET POTATO STEW 

Makes 6 - 8 servings. Vegan & gluten free. 

Ingredients 

1 tablespoon olive oil (normally I'd use coconut oil, but we didn't have any on hand)
1 medium sized onion, peeled and diced (I used a red onion)
1 medium sized carrot, peeled and cut in 1/4 inch half moons or rounds
1 rib of celery rough chopped 
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled, and minced or grated 
1 bell pepper, diced 
1 tablespoon curry powder of your choice 
1/2 a pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half, or two medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped 
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes 
1 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth or water
1 14 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk (I used full fat, but light would also work) 
3 cups of baby kale (or any leafy greens of your choice), rinsed and roughly chopped
1 lemon or lime
1 handful of cilantro, rinsed and chopped, for garnish 
Salt & pepper
1.5 cups dry brown rice, cooked according to instructions on the package 

Directions

Heat a large soup pot on medium heat. Add oil to the pot.  Add onions, carrots and celery, with generous pinch of salt, and stir to combine. Cook until these ingredients are they are softened and the onion has become translucent. You may need to add a splash of water or veggie broth from time to time if the ingredients start burning or sticking to the bottom. Add garlic, ginger and bell pepper, stir to combine. In a minute or two, add the curry spice and stir to coat the ingredients. Add the tomatoes and leave them to simmer and soften for a few minutes. 

Add the sweet potatoes, chickpeas and broth (or water) and turn heat to high. When your stew starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer. In about 20 minutes, or once the sweet potatoes are soft, add the can of coconut milk and stir well to combine.  Add your greens, stir to combine.  Squeeze the juice of half a lemon or 1 lime and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately with brown rice, and garnish with cilantro and a wedge of lemon or lime. A hot sauce of your choice would also give this stew a nice kick.