I’m excited! I bought a new slow cooker. Seriously, if that’s what it takes to excite me, well….guess I truly am a foodie, cause kitchen gadgets are the bomb! This one has digital controls, first thing I’m not sure of…I discovered I can’t use my plug in timer to set this thing to start later in the day. However, I can set it to keep things warm once they’re done. It has a probe too, not sure if or what I’ll use that for. Anyway, here ‘she’ is, isn’t she purty!
So, for the maiden voyage of the new gadget, I decided to make a Moroccan Vegetable Stew. I’d love to tell you this was totally my own creation, but alas, it’s modified from a weight watchers recipe (gotta get the bod ready for spring ya know)!
So, let’s get started!
First step was to prep the veggies. I can’t tell you how many people seem to be afraid of cutting up their own squash. This recipe calls for a medium butternut squash. Butternut is one of the easier squashes to work with raw (unlike acorn, which can be a bear to cut through). Use your vegetable peeler to peel it up, slice it in half (or whatever), use a big spoon to scoop out the seeds (there aren’t many), and simply cut it up into 1 inch cubes. Here ya go
Next prep carrots. I peeled and sliced up whole carrots, but you can also use baby carrots if you have them. About a cup or two. I cut them into 1 inch pieces, give or take.
Put the carrots and the squash into your slow cooker.
Mince up a couple cloves of garlic and chop a medium onion. Spray a pan with cooking spray (I use my Misto filled with canola oil) and sauté the onions and the garlic about 5 minutes. Be sure to stir often as the garlic tends to burn. Add these to your cooker.
Next I added crushed tomatoes. The recipe calls for about a cup of canned crushed but all I had on hand was a large can of whole tomatoes, so the simple solution was to crush them myself. You can do this and dirty your food processor, or cut them up but you can also avoid a few steps quite easily, just grab a tomato in your hands and ‘squish’ it into the crock pot! BE CAREFUL! I remind myself of this every time I do this and still, these little buggers are literally bursting in juice, juice that flies far…like all over the cabinet doors, walls and so on. It only happens with the first one, cause after that, you learn to use one hand to squish and the other hand to block. See what happens?
Small pause to clean up my mess!
Add ½ cup of vegetable broth. I like having Better than Bouillon on hand for cooking, it’s easy and it tastes far better than cubes, plus there’s a low salt version. If you want to go true vegetarian with this, use vegetable broth. I tend to run out of that every time my vegetarian daughter is home from school, so all I had was reduced sodium chicken.. It works! Just ½ teaspoon of the paste with ½ cup of water makes for broth. I like using my Tupperware shaker thingy to mix it up. Pour this over the veggies in the crock pot.
Finally spices. This is, after all, a Moroccan recipe, so gotta add the yummy spices. I’m a spice nut, love having everything on hand for whatever I want to cook. When I moved into this house, I quickly found the perfect spot for my spices, within a little more than an arms reach of the stove. Then I found the perfect spice racks on Amazon. These racks use the space that is otherwise useless, behind the door into the garage (just to the left of the door is my stove, perfect, yes?). I mounted 3 racks, which came with the jars and labels, all I needed to do was to go up to the health food store and stock up on spices. Did you know that spices per pound are the most expensive item in the grocery store? Check out the per pound price next time you shop! If you go to the health food store, you can get just the amount you need and far fresher too! Anyway, the picture doesn’t show it, but the jars are in alphabetical order, so there’s no searching for anything! Oh, alas, if I add a new spice, I do have to rearrange a bit to make room! Anyway, isn’t it awesome!
You’ll need cinnamon, cumin and red pepper flakes for this. Here they are ready to be mixed in.
Add the spices, stir it up a bit and then cover and simmer on low for 6 hours. Towards the end, drain and rinse the chickpeas, add them to the pot with a bit of salt for taste and cook for a few extra minutes to warm things through. I served this with a side of whole wheat Israeli couscous and a sprinkling of fresh chopped cilantro. OMG, this recipe took a little bit of prep but was oh, so worth it! I can’t wait to make this for my vegetarian daughter, she will love it! Leftovers were good too, but be careful not to heat too much, things get a big mushy, if ya know what I mean! If you’re on Weight Watchers, one serving is about 5 points plus not including the couscous. I follow simply filling, so right or wrong, I called this meal a ‘freebie’! Tasty and low points, you just don’t get much better!
Moroccan slow Cooker Stew
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic cloves, minced
2-3 cup carrots, cut into 1″ pieces (or about 2 cups baby carrots
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (or about 6 squished whole canned tomatoes and about 3/4 cup of the juice)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
15 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp table salt
Minced cilantro to taste
Spray a small skillet with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté for about 5 minutes.
Place squash in a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Add sauteed onion and garlic, carrots, tomatoes, broth, cinnamon, cumin and red pepper flakes. Cover and turn on to low heat; simmer for 6 hours.
Add chickpeas and salt. Stir, cover and heat for an additional 5 minutes. Top with a sprinkling of minced cilantro. Yields about 1 1/3 cups per serving.