Open Up Your Heart And Let the Sun Shine In

Spring is in the air, but not quite here. The pavement heaves and sighs impatiently, waiting for April showers to wash away the grey and grit. Bare branches stir with restless anticipation for little buds to form and delicate leaves to unfurl. Longer days radiate on my skin, dreams are more vivid, starlings flutter and chat in the garden, sun streams over my bed, and I taste a hint of honey on the breeze.

The food box is still stocked with stodgy winter vegetables and it will be quite some time before succulent strawberry juices and bitter dandelions tickle my tongue.  This stew captures all the cozy goodness of being tucked away for winter while reminding us of the  sweetness of the summer to come.

North African Inspired Winter Vegetable Stew
Yields 6L. Requires a 7L crock-pot. Cut recipe in half for a regular sized crock pot.

4 tbsp coconut oil
4 large onions chopped
2 cups of dry chickpeas
1½ cups leeks finely chopped
2- 796ml cans of organic tomatoes
1- 170g. package of creamed coconut
1 L. chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup organic unsulphered dry apricots
1 cup organic unsulphured raisins

The following vegetables washed and chopped into bite sized pieces:
2 cups potatoes
2 cups carrots
4 cups squash
5 cups sweet potatoes (white and red)

Spices:
3 tbsp cumin seeds toasted and ground
1 tbsp coriander seeds toasted and ground
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground dry chipotle peppers
1 tbsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp ginger powder
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp cinnamon

  1. Soak the chickpeas for 6-12 hours. Rinse well and then boil. When cooked (soft yet firm) strain all cooking water away and rinse well in a colander. This method helps with digestion and eliminating gas.
  2. Put the onions, coconut oil and spices in a crock-pot on high heat.
  3. Wash and chop all the vegetables, and dry fruit. Add them to the pot with the broth. Cover and cook on high heat for about 4-5 hours.
  4. When the vegetables are cooked add the tomatoes and chickpeas.
  5. Chop up the creamed coconut in a glass measuring cup. Add boiling water until you reach 1.5 cups. Let sit until the coconut begins to soften. Stir and squish with a fork until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add to the pot and stir well.
  6. Add more tomatoes, broth or water for desired consistency.
  7. Eat right away and store some in mason jars for lazy days.
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