Friday, January 07, 2011

Veggies & Spice I: Squash, Cauliflower & Berbere Spice Stew

I am not inclined to make New Years' Resolutions but I do try to view the New Year as a fresh start and, therefore, an opportunity to start new things. Since I am always trying to improve my diet by eating more veggies, and, because I have been reading a lot about the anti-inflammatory benefits of cooking with spices, I decided to combine the two. This winter I'm trying to experiment cooking with vegetables and spices and post the results here.

I've mentioned before my love of MySpiceSage.com, a wonderful resource for buying fresh, delicious spices that offers some of the most interesting spice combinations I've ever seen. I decided to kick off my new experiment by ordering 1 oz. packages of several of their spice combos. This is a cheap way to be creative because most of the 1 oz. packages are between $1.75 and $2.00 each. I ordered six different combinations (Berbere Spice, Garam Masala, Chana Masala, Pani Puri Masala, Arabic Spice Blend, and Maharajah Style Curry). The 1 oz. package is enough for 1 or 2 uses so, if something isn't a success, I'm not stuck with a whole jar I'll never use. Plus, the nice MySpiceSage people send freebies so, in that order I got a gram of the most fragrant-smelling Spanish Saffron and an ounce of black cardamom pods! The whole thing set me back a whopping $14.50 (including shipping!) and I have all this fun to look forward to.

Last night I made my first dish, a luscious, fragrant stew with Berbere Spice which is absolutely delicious.

Squash, Cauliflower & Berbere Spice Stew
Melt 1 tablespoon butter and add a medium onion chopped fine. Saute until translucent and add 1 lb. boneless/skinless chicken cut into bite sized pieces. Saute until the chicken begins to brown then stir in 2 tablespoons of flour. Cook until the flour is fully absorbed by the liquids in the pan. Add:

2-3 c. butternut squash, cut in bite sized pieces
2-3 c. cauliflower, broken into florets
2 heaping tablespoons Berbere Spice (you can make your own Berbere Spice by combining Paprika, Red Pepper, Salt, Ginger, Onion, Garlic, Cardamom, Coriander, Nutmeg, Fenugreek, Cinnamon, Allspice and Cloves)
3 c. chicken stock
1 c. red wine

Let simmer until the squash and cauliflower are just tender. Add a handful of spinach torn into bite sized pieces and only cook long enough for the spinach to wilt. Ladle into bowls and serve.

This stew was so delicious I couldn't believe it – rich and spicy but not hot. Next time I make it I may add a little cayenne pepper. I also think it might be nice to add chick peas or substitute them for the chicken.

I had the stew for dinner last night and lunch today and there is plenty left for some hot, spicy lunches over the weekend.

So that's my first Veggie & Spice experiment. I'll keep you posted as I try more of them.

Thanks for reading.

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