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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Moroccan-style Butternut Squash, Ceci Bean & Kale Stew

Moroccan, don't let that intimidate you. This stew or ragu.. is super easy, delicious and a very healthy meal that can be made in one pot.. in under an hour.  Those are all the reasons it's a fav and a repeat dish around here.    You probably have all ingredients on hand or within easy reach.  So similar to my Butternut minestrone (recipe here), just a few tweaks and the flavors are just a little different.  Same, good old, comfort-food at it's best.  Very satisfying on it's on but empowered over a spoon or two of amino-rich, protein perfect, quinoa.  Even better.  
And, moms.. This is Scarlett approved. She doesn't just eat it, she loves it.  She is 8 now but has been eating this since she was about 3.  She doesn't always jump at kale when she sees it but when she eats this dish, she asks for a bite of kale in every bite.  Perfect balance.  I love that too. 

So, if you follow my recipes and blog, you know I am obsessed with butternut squash. And why not? It is a super-food at it's most delicious best!   I love it steamed, pureed, in risotto (oh, yum) , soups and in stews.  I eat it for breakfast, simply steamed with a slight drizzle of maple syrup or simply mashed in my oatmeal with a little cinnamon.  It is the perfect food.  If you have energy and time, buy it whole and work it yourself, or take the easy quick route and get it packaged and ready to go.  For this recipe I prefer large chunks.  
What goes better with butternut squash than kale? One of my favorite combos.  The bitterness of the kale tempered by the sweetness of the squash, oh so good.  I also love the tomato here for all those reasons too, it just works perfectly.  Good dose of garlic and onions, because.. why not? It's boosting the healthiness of this stew or ragu.  
Beans, love the hearty, creaminess they add.  Speaking of adding.. they also add a protein boost. Love bean nutrition.  Here I chose chickpeas/garbanzos.. (which we call Ceci Beans) and they add to the Moroccan factor.  But you could easily substitute creamy cannellini beans. 

Note:  This can easily be made in the crock-pot in 8 hours.  Same recipe, just swap out dried beans for canned.  Start it in the morning and be oh so happy when you return home.  
To serve with quinoa, just follow basic quinoa instructions on the package.   

Moroccan Butternut Squash & Kale Stew with Ceci Beans

2 Tbsp. olive oil or bacon fat
1 large onion, sliced or 2 large leeks (white and light green part only, well washed)
1 tsp. sea salt
6 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped

1 can chickpeas/garbanzos (rinsed and drained)
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4" dice
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 bag of chopped tuscan kale (Trader Joe's) 
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
1 pinch of saffron (optional) 

Over medium heat, sauté onions in oil or fat til translucent.  Add salt.  Add garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes.  (Transfer to crockpot at this point, if using)  
Add ceci beans, squash, stock, water, kale, tomatoes and paprika (and saffron, if using).  Bring to boil, lower to simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes or until butternut squash is fork tender.  

Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 

Serve over a bed of quinoa with a drizzle of good, flavorful olive oil, sprinkle of red pepper flakes and finishing sea salt.