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Monday, 8 August 2011

Meatfree Monday - Chickpea and Vegetable Stew with Cheesy Potato Topping

This is a versatile recipe that can make 6 individual servings or one large stew.  It's easily adjusted to serve more or less people and is really inexpensive and filling.  This dinner is relatively quick to cook with minimal faff, other than some chopping and stirring.  You could use frozen green beans or breadbeans if fresh ones are too expensive or unavailable.  I've used frozen mixed vegetables in the past and just left out the fresh carrots as they were in the mixed vegetables.  Adapt the recipe to use what you have available and what's in season.

I used sliced potato for the topping one night because we didn't have any pastry and I couldn't be bothered making any.  It makes the dish more filling and some people don't like pastry.  The key to a good potato topping is to use a desiree type potato that won't break up and go fluffy, you need to use a salad potato rather than one for roasting/mashing.

That said, you could leave the potato topping off and not use it at all.  I've served it with crusty bread in the past, topped with shredded Parmesan and toasted so the cheese melts instead of faffing about with the potatoes.  The crusty bread is also great for soaking up the juices from the stew.

Serves 6

1 Tbsp olive oil

500g pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1 inch dice

300g small mushrooms, quartered

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 courgettes or one marrow, roughly chopped

1 leek (white/pale section only) thinly sliced

2 cloves of crushed garlic

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp chilli powder

2 x 400g tins of diced tomatoes

250ml (1 cup) vegetable stock, made with one stock cube

2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and well rinsed

250g thin green beans, topped, cut into 1 inch lengths

Small handful (1/4 cup) coarsely chopped fresh coriander or flatleaf parsley leaves

6 large (about 800g) desiree-type potatoes, unpeeled and thinly sliced

70g (1 cup) shredded Parmesan cheese (or vegetarian equivalent)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat then sdd the pumpkin, mushroom, carrot, courgette, leek and crushed garlic.  Cook all the vegetables, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until the leek softens.

At this point add the cumin and chilli then cook, stirring well, for around 30 seconds or until they become aromatic.  Quickly add the tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock then bring everything to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover with a lid.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.  Uncover the stew and then simmer for a further 10 minutes which helps thicken  it.  Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to the stew with the green beans.  Cook the stew whilst gently stirring for 5 minutes or until the beans are bright green and slightly tender but still quite crisp.  Sprinkle in the chopped fresh coriander or flatleaf parsley leaves and stir them through.

Preheat your oven to 180°C.  Divide the vegetable mixture among six 625ml (2 1/2-cup) capacity ovenproof dishes or one large 1.5 litre ovenproof dish.  Top with half the potato slices, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle with half the shredded Parmesan.  Repeat the process again with the remaining potato and Parmesan. Bake in oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until the potato is tender. Serve with a side salad or steamed greens.

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