Winter can be ho-hum. That’s sometimes how feel about winter meals too. I love the coziness that warm soups and stews can bring on a cold winter day, but at about this time every year, I start to feel like my meals are overcooked. Stews that are traditionally hearty are looking mushy and colorless. I am missing the vibrant crunchiness of spring and summer. It’s still cold in DC and that means at least a couple more months before the produce is jumping off the stands at the farmers market with its bright colors and delicious aromas.
To channel some glimmer of summer, I made a tomato-based chicken and chickpea stew. It is still warm and hearty, but the tomato paste gives the dish a brighter look and a reminder of summer tomatoes. I also stretched this meal into lunches by scooping up some of the sauce and chickpeas and topping them over tofu and saving the bulk of the chicken and chickpeas for dinner with some quinoa. I threw this together in about half an hour and stretched the meals for almost 3 days. I added some freshness at each serving by topping this stew with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some coarsely chopped cilantro. It was my dose of spring into a warm winter stew.
How do you inject a taste of spring or summer into hearty winter meals?
ONE POT CHICKEN AND CHICKPEA STEW
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium-sized onion, sliced (any kind will do, I used a red onion)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon dried cumin
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 15 oz. cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
juice of ½ lime
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa
Rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper the chicken thighs generously. In a large heavy bottom pan or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Place the chicken breasts into the pan on the first side for 3-4 minutes to brown (don’t touch them before the time is up!) then flip and brown the other side. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pot continuing on medium-high heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the sliced onions and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Continue to sauté for another 5-6 minutes or until the onions and soft and translucent.
Add the red pepper flakes, parsley flakes, and cumin and stir to combine. Make a space in the onions and add the tomato paste and toast the paste for 15-20 seconds, then stir until the onions are evenly coated with the tomato paste. Add the chicken with its juices and bay leaf, then add the 4 cups of stock and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve over brown rice or quinoa. Top with a drizzle of lime juice and fresh cilantro.