Abundance and the scramble to keep it within our grasp is what it feels like these days. I’ve been making slow stuffed pumpkins, busted out a mole chili and experimenting with apple desserts. Fall is firmly a part of the nightly table right along with summer salads. The cooler nights and changing leaves seem to call for stew.
I made a version of this as one of my first posts when I had little to no idea what I was doing, not just here, but in general. While I’m a little more confident in most areas of my life now, things still and always will need tweaking. I’ve been contemplating contracting my life a little bit lately. There is a sweet spot between having a full life and being over-extended. I’ve cast a wide-extensive net between city and country (or countries if you count all the work in Mexico this year) and left myself very little alone time. I’ve been wanting slow breakfasts in bed every day instead of feeling lucky to have remembered to eat breakfast at all (except on weekends). Yesterday I spent half the day on the internets looking for a to-go cup because I’m constantly running, literally and figuratively. Whoa there…I’m buying a travel mug because I can’t find time to make coffee or even stop into a cafe? Just, no. Fall is the perfect time to pull back on certain activities and spend time outdoors just sitting. In trying to calibrate when to go out and when to stay under the covers, this stew seemed the perfect response. It’s quick and easy in preparation, requiring very little chopping or prep. But in order to bring out the deep aromas of the spice and to soften the chickpeas it calls for a long, slow simmer.
Aromatic spices, along with chopped dried apricots and preserved lemons give this chickpea stew a complex, deep flavor, while spinach, arugula and cilantro leaves lighten and freshen it up. I served this with couscous, some flatbread and because someone around here doesn’t think a meal is complete without meat, roasted chicken, though lamb would also be ideal.
I hope you’re doing well and hanging in there mid-week. I leave you with an excerpt one of my favorite poets, Neruda.
“If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
SPICED MOROCCAN CHICKPEA STEW W/ GREENS
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until the onions begin to turn translucent; lower heat if browning starts to occur. Add spices and ginger saute a minute or so until they release their fragrance. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, and sugar. Season with a couple pinches of salt and 10 grinds fresh pepper. Stir well. Chickpeas should be just covered with liquid. If level is shy, add some water so the chickpeas are just covered.
Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to low and gently simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove soup from heat. Use a potato masher to mash up some of the chickpeas right in the pot. Stir in the spinach, arugula, apricots and preserved lemons and let heat through until greens are wilted, just a couple minutes. Season again, to taste, with salt and pepper. Top with cilantro.
Serve soup, drizzled lightly with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.