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.
Curried Chickpea and Vegetable Stew
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 shallots chopped
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 15.5-oz cans chickpeas , drained and rinsed
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 8 new potatoes quartered
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the shallots, carrots and garlic. Cook until the onions begin to appear transparent, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the stock, chickpeas, tomatoes, potatoes, tomato paste and curry powder. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper, as needed.
- Serve over white rice.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.