Once upon a time, I was a brooding teenage vegetarian who wrote way too much dark poetry. I wrote short stories too, but it was poetry that I would escape to when I needed to process whatever high school drama had me all twisty-turvy. And whilst being a brooding teenage vegetarian, my parents were sweet enough to cook vegetarian meals a few times each week, which meant basically I ate well at dinnertime. Breakfast (what? a pot of coffee isn’t breakfast?) and lunch were a totally different story, but one out of three isn’t so bad, is it?
Then I went to college and became a hungry, busy young adult vegetarian with few cooking skills. The poetry and I soon parted ways as I focused on my studies and having fun and all that college in a major city brings. And I tried to stay fed, which was a challenge with those few cooking skills. I had a slow cooker that I would make soups in, but they always seemed to taste the same — no matter what I put into them. But really, the honest truth is that I ate a lot of take out, occasionally would declare chicken okay and didn’t eat a ton of vegetables — unless you count the freeze dried ones in the Thai ramen noodles I fell back on when my wallet was empty. Eventually, my lackluster eating habits caught up with me and my doctor gave me a choice: take iron pills or eat meat. I chose the latter. It seemed easier.
Now, if I’d known a little bit more about cooking back then, things might have been different. I had no idea how simple a good vegetarian stew could be to make. Nor did I realize how breaking out of my seasoning comfort zone could totally change dishes into something new, exciting and craveworthy.
These days, I still eat meat but often have meat-free days. And when I do, I love to whip up a really flavorful dish like this Curried Chickpea and Vegetable Stew. It’s a little spicy (okay, maybe more than a little spicy, but the rice offsets the spiciness), which means my kids aren’t big fans but that’s okay — more for me. Whipping up a pot of this on Sunday means lunch for the week for me (score!).
This vegetable stew has some of my favorite flavors — creamy potatoes, sweet carrots, meaty chickpeas and that twist of curry that transforms the tomato base into a warm, fragrant Indian-inspired dish that’s perfect served over rice.
I think my inner brooding teenage vegetarian would approve.