Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine

While last week I extolled the virtues of extending summer a wee bit, I am now head over heels in love with autumn. The apple orchards are open, squashes are filling the produce departments, and for the first time this season, we turned the heat on to take the chill out of the living room. I’ve discovered something about myself recently; despite loving summer and summer cooking, I truly am a cold-weather cook. Even on a cooler than normal day in August, my thoughts went to roasted chicken, chili, homemade bread, anything to warm the house and soul. So I am thrilled that the season is finally upon us (although not too thrilled about the idea of snow, the dark days, and really cold weather), and that the weather is now perfect for making warm, comforting stews like this one.

I’ve made this recipe twice and both times it was a hit. The first time I substituted grape tomatoes for the Sun Golds and rice instead of quinoa, and it was just as good. The second time I followed it to the letter (served with red quinoa cooked in chicken broth–yum!) and it was delicious. It’s a perfect fall dish, served with a simple green salad, you can rest assured you won’t be adding to your waistline. And it’s quick! Chop everything ahead of time and you just stand and stir. Plus it makes fabulous leftovers!

Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine
This recipe originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Cooking Light.

Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup zucchini mixture)

1 cup water
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups Sun Gold or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 (15-ounce) can unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring 1 cup water, quinoa, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 13 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes or until tomatoes begin to release their liquid. Add chickpeas and zucchini. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve zucchini mixture with quinoa.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Eating Well on a Budget
Perhaps it is the same everywhere, but I’m finding food, that is, good for you food, more and more expensive in the past few years. This question of how to eat healthy on a tight budget recently was posed on I am always looking for helpful hints on how to lower my grocery bill. While I’m familiar with most of the suggestions I know, I still found a few new ones that I’ll try! What are your best hints? I like to buy dried beans instead of canned and cook them up, as well as buying spices in bulk so I get as much–or as little–as I want. Plus, they are fresher!

Eat well on a tight budget.

Springtime(?) Matzo Ball Soup

Anyone who knows me well, knows my perfect comfort food is chicken. Almost every Sunday, I roast up a whole bird or bone-in breasts with enough leftovers for the coming week for sandwiches and salads. Boiling the carcass makes for a rich, meaty broth. So when the weather outside turned frightful in early March, I decided with some sad vegetables staring at me from the refrigerator bin and some matzo meal in the cupboard, that it was a perfect time to make some matzo ball soup for lunch. You can use any variation of vegetables you like, I happened to have a half dead turnip leftover. Served with an orange and a couple of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies made a perfect lunch and gave enough stamina to continue shoveling through the afternoon!

Springtime (?) Matzo Ball Soup
• 4 cups chicken broth, with chicken
• 2 tsp. olive oil
• 2 carrots, peeled and diced
• 2 celery stalks, peeled and diced
• 1 turnip, peeled and diced
• 1/2 large white onion, diced
• Splash of white wine
• 1 garlic clove, pressed
• Matzo ball mix (see recipe below)

1. Heat broth over medium heat, add splash of wine and pressed garlic and stir.
2. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add carrots, turnip, and celery with a dash of salt. Cook until softened. Add onion and cook until soft.
3. Add vegetables to soup and stir.
4. Form matzo into round, 1 tbs. Balls and place on top of the soup. Cook until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Homemade Matzo Balls
I can’t take credit it for this, my good friends at Manischewitz can, as it is what I follow when I make matzo balls. They are the best!

2 eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 c. matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon of salt (I usually use less)
2 tablespoons water or broth

Beat the eggs, blend the eggs with the oil, matzo meal, and salt. Add broth or water, mix until uniform. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Add to soup as described above.