This chickpea and butternut squash stew recipe pairs with a memory. At the time the story was too embarrassing or just to stressful to share but having given it a few months, I now recalling it fondly so I must share.
One weekday morning I took our shared family car (we only had one at the time) to grab groceries at a favorite little local market while Josh watched Everett at home. In a fog, as I’ve been a lot lately, due to lack of sleep or just being a mom (both probably), I got my groceries then started to drive out of the parking lot. I drove forward only to quickly realize I had run the car over a tall curb. The car was high centered. I was really in trouble. After calling Josh I tried turning the wheel this way or that, and reversing but it was stuck, really stuck. I had no idea what to do and my knight and shining armor was at home watching the baby, car-less.
Another distressed phone call later, Josh decided to take the stroller and walk up to the market. We live not too far away. About 25 minutes later I see Josh, the stroller and Henry all three walking towards me. A smerk came over my face that I just couldn’t get rid of. What a funny site – for both me and him. After a few trys, Josh agreed, we were stuck. So, we called Triple A and decided to walk across the street to a favorite local restaurant, Finca, to wait. The lunch service hadn’t even started yet but they let us take a seat and order something. I never pass up a meal out so I quickly decided the Chickpea Butternut Stew sounded like something to cheer me up.
Overhearing the staff mock at the crazy person (sleep deprived mom actually) who high-centered their car, the owner came up to us and we confessed to the silly mistake. The restaurant staff, still waiting for things to get busy, started to come up with solutions and decided they would take some of the kitchen crew to try and lift up our car off the curb.
A little red in the face and still in pajama-like attire, I sat eating my stew and watched Josh along with the staff at Finca save my day. They lifted the car up off the curb and passed along high fives at their big achievement. Suddenly, the stew was the most comforting I’d ever tasted.
We finished our meal, untied Henry from the post outside, and drove home, in the family car, having a heightened devotion to Finca. Months later, I can laugh and eat this similar stew in remembrance. I hope you enjoy it too and are reminded to not drive when you are sleep deprived.
- 2 slices of wheat bread, roughly chopped (optional- skip for gluten free)
- 4+ tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 butternut squash, cubed
- 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thin
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 tablespoon smoked paprika
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
Chop the bread then toss in 2 tablespoons of oil and a few pinches of salt. Stir over medium heat until crispy - about 10 minutes.
Sauté onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil on medium low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the butternut squash, fennel, chickpeas and three fourths of the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and salt over the vegetables. Cook for about 10-15 minutes.
Pour vegetable broth over the vegetables and use a wooden spoon to scrape any stuck pieces off of the bottom of the pan (this will just add flavor to the stew). Cook for another 10 minutes or until the squash is tender.
Serve with fennel fronds and additional bread crumbs.
The bread crumbs thicken the sauce and make the whole stew more rich. For a lighter stew you can skip the bread.