When I got to Whole Foods yesterday, I had the intention of doing something with winter vegetables. I was recently shamed by a produce guy when I made some comment about the lack of arugula or something and he tells me how there’s a drought in California and that it might mean we’ll all have to start eating seasonally again… you know, like we used to. Jeez! So I backed off the green leafy veggies and put some blueberries in my cart when I saw he wasn’t looking. Screw you, Whole Foods produce guy!

That encounter did make me think though. I like winter veggies, I just don’t usually think of centering a meal around them. I’ve also been wanting to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. So here we are… (I toyed with the idea of making this vegetarian and omitting the pork but I also knew that I’d probably want to order a pizza after we finished dinner. Pork makes everything better!)

Pork and Winter Vegetable Stew

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1 small-ish piece pork butt, cut into bite-sized pieces
An onion, chopped
Garlic, minced

A few tablespoons or so harissa (I lost count)
2 tablespoons or so tomato paste (optional, to balance out heat of harissa if you’re a wuss)
A little ground cumin (maybe ground coriander too?)
Chicken stock
1/2 to 3/4 butternut squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small to medium sweet potato, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 to 4 small carrots, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 or 2 cans chickpeas, drained

Generously season meat and brown on all sides in vege or canola oil. Remove meat to a plate. Add onions to pot and cook to soften.

Add harissa, tomato paste (if using) and the spices to onions.

(Note: The harissa I bought had significant heat. Use the tomato paste to balance out the heat if you don’t want it too spicy. I didn’t use the tomato paste, I’m adding it here as an afterthought. Mine actually ended up having just the right amount of slow burn. Adding the veggies really calmed down the heat too so I suggest you experiment here and taste, taste, taste.)

Add stock and meat back in and simmer 45 minutes or so to give the meat a head start. Add veggies and chickpeas in, and continue to simmer until everything’s tender and cooked down to a stew-consistency rather than a soup.

Serve over couscous or on its own with lemon juice squeezed over the top and some chopped cilantro, if desired.

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