Slow-Cooker Squash Stew - 4 servings
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Slow-cooker time: 8 hours
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water and then rinsed - use 2 cans of chickpeas if dried not available (which is what I used as I couldn't find the dried in my supermarket)
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces (or buy pre-cubed butternut squash from the supermarket if available)
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and roughly chopped
1 piece Parmesan Cheese rind, plus grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Your favorite crusty bread and/or lemon wedges, for serving
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute.
Stir in 1/2 cup water, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a 6-quart slow cooker.
Add the chickpeas, squash, chard stems (not the leaves), the Parmesan rind, if using, 2 teaspoons salt and 7 cups water to the slow cooker.
Stir and cover; cook on low for 8 hours.
Just before serving, lift the lid and stir in the chard leaves; cover and continue cooking 10 more minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, and stir to slightly break up the squash.
Discard the Parmesan rind, if used.
Ladle the stew into bowls; top with the grated Parmesan if using, and serve with bread and/or lemon wedges.
If you have been following my Monday recipe posts, you'll see that I always add my own notes below each recipe. This is for our own benefit to read what we might change or add the next time that recipe is made, because we forget truth be told. I guess what I am trying to say is, I don’t expect you to read through all my ramblings. If you do end up making this, you will probably add your own thoughts, but then again I hope my notes may be of some help.
Our son was over on the day I cooked this. We all enjoyed it and the guys are totally honest about their food. They let me know if it isn’t their cup of tea - I prefer it that way - and this was without a doubt a thumb's up with them, and they had seconds. I always try to make food I know they will enjoy, but sometimes I will slip something new into a dish - new to us - as in this case butternut squash, swiss chard and chickpeas. Our daughter-in-law has introduced many new healthy foods to our son, and I will often take note and put something different on our shopping list.
I wasn’t able to get the dried chickpeas, so used 2 cans instead (along with their liquid). I needn’t have worried about them being too soft at the end of the 8-hour cooking time. I could have added them later for just enough time to heat through, at the same time as adding the Swiss Chard leaves, but didn’t want any extra steps that day. If it didn't work out there would always be a next time. Happily the chickpeas kept their firmness.
The broth was thinner than the other soups or stews I have made. Maybe if I used the dried peas they would have thickened it, maybe. That being said, it was delicious and tasted even better the next day.
I added the Parmesan rind - yummy because I used four small bite-size pieces of rind and accidentally ate a piece thinking it was a vegetable as it turned the color of the butternut squash and although very nice was a little chewy, so be careful - yes I'm rambling. I also grated up extra for serving on top of our first meal, but the next day added sour cream and it was also yummy.
Though I normally like to buy produce whole, I found it hard to cut up the butternut squash. My hands don't work as well as they used to (my guys were in the middle of a project and I didn't want to bother them). Next time I might try getting the pre-cut chunks available at the supermarket. Those convenience packets do make the task a whole lot easier.
This is the first time I have prepared and eaten swiss chard. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it again as we all enjoyed it in this stew. Substitutions could be kale or spinach or cabbage.
I also put the tomato paste and crushed pepper together in a small dish, and placed them in the fridge the night before. What was left in the can I measured out 1 tablespoon amounts onto a piece of parchment paper, flash froze them and once frozen wrapped them up a freezer bag. They will be ready for another recipe requiring tomato paste. When I was a school girl my Domestic Science teacher nicknamed me the Flour Queen. If she needed a new nickname for me today she would call me the Freeze Queen.
The night before I meal-prepped and measured out most of the ingredients, put in small bowls, covered them and placed what I needed in the fridge. It made for an easy start to the morning, putting everything into the slow-cooker when I got up. The finished meal was on the table for an early dinner at four in the afternoon.
When we had enjoyed two more meals, most of the vegetables had been eaten but I had 2 cups of broth left. This I put it in the freezer, for when we need vegetable broth for another recipe. I think this was a very tasty broth and would add a lot to the next soup we make.
If you don’t have a slow cooker it could be adapted for cooking on the stove top. Just check on how long it would take to cook the dried chickpeas if using.
We looked at these photos and both said they turned out darker than the actual stew. I took them in the evening when the lighting was quite dim. Lesson learned and ramble over with!
Thanks for visiting and have a great week.