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Sunday, March 04, 2007

grocery-free ingenuity

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Every once in a while, hubs and I go through a little phase where I don't really have any motivation to plan or cook anything at all. This is really a terrible thing for both our waistlines and pocketbooks and it's something I really have to stop doing. I'm not sure why I do it....I don't really like fast food all that much, and I know that it's basically just a slow way of killing yourself.....

I occasionally crave fast food like there is no tomorrow, and then eventually find myself lost in the land of factory-farmed rot and wobbly wobbly people. Uck. And, I realized, but due to my newfound zeal for not eating factory-farmed meat, there's actually very little I can eat from a fast food place. Take today, hubs and I stopped into a Tim Horton's/Wendy's shop.

Do you know what a non-meat-eater can eat at Wendy's? A plain baked potato or a garden salad. So lame. They don't have a veggie burger, and no veggie chili or anything. SO I went to Timmy's, where I had a grand total of ONE choice - a veggie sandwich with cream of mushroom soup (all the non-cream soups had meat in them). Blah.

This reminds me why I need to cook at home....I can buy yummy non-factory farmed meat, and there is SO much choice out there.

On Friday though (and still today) I didn't really have all that much in the way of groceries, so I decided to make something based on what I had in the fridge.....and after a little googling and recipe-tweaking, I am across something that used a record amount of random ingredients - chicken, tomatoes, chickpeas, zucchini, I was a happy camper. I had to make a few alterations to the recipe, and I can't for the life of me remember where I stole it from (apologies to the original author), but it brought a little touch of exoticism into the kitchen.

And a touch that was VERY badly needed after my forays into nutritional purgatory. This had vitamins, vegetables and other things that are SO much better for me than the nastry crap I have a bad habit of hoarding and hoovering....blah.

Hubs and I both enjoyed this recipe, though I think it would have a little more spice, and my bad habit of adding cinnamon to all things to all things pseudo-north-african wouldn't have been amiss here. Overall, I liked it. Not too shabby when you haven't bothered to brave the grocery store for a few days. As usual, there's little authenticity to this dish....rather than recreating the perfect dish, I'm generally more concerned with whether or not a particular dish will be enjoyable. There are many authentic things out there that I'd rather not touch with a ten-foot pole, such as hàkarl, which is an Icelandic dish of fermented shark flesh. So um yeah....I don't necessarily bow down to the gods of authenticity, as necessity is often the mother of invention....not necessarily taste or yumminess.....

North-African-Inspired Chicken and Chickpea Stew
1 T olive oil
4 chicken breasts, chopped
1 t salt (I used fleur de sel)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T grated fresh ginger
**I measured all of my spices quite generously!
1/2 t smoked paprika
3/4 t ground cumin
1/2 t oregano
1/4 t curry powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper (I rounded it and this added a touch of heat....I could have doubled this and still enjoyed it)
1.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup crushed tomatoes (I just took diced and blasted them with my immersion blender)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 zucchinis, halved and sliced
3 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 T lemon juice
hot cooked coucous

1. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the chicken (mine was still mostly frozen at this point) and cook until browned. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
browned chicken

2. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

3. Add the broth, tomatoes and about 1 t salt, scraping the bottom of the pot to get any browned bits that have accumulated. Add the zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes, until it begins to soften.

4. Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is cooked through and zucchini is cooked to your liking. Add the parsley and lemon juice. Serve over couscous and garnish with lemon.

moroccan-inspired chicken chickpea stew

Voila - it's as easy as that! This is a pretty quick dinner that would work for a weeknight....I wouldn't personally serve it to company, because I think it needs a little more tweaking to be awesome, but it's tasty and nutritious, so I won't whine too much. ;) Tonight, I'm about to attempt something a little creative with seafood and pastry....stay tuned for the results and thanks for reading!


Christie said...

Oh yes, the fast food world sucks for meatless alternatives. We're lucky enough to have a falafel place down the street, but I can't live on falafel alone. :) Added to the misery that I've given up french fries, I've severely cut down my fast food consumption over the past few weeks. It'll be good for me in the end, but since I never seem to have time to prep lunches for work, it makes eating difficult.

Keep up the yummy dishes! :)

Debbi said...

Thank you for posting this dish. Being very pregnant I have been craving some thing and this dish completely hit the spot. Completely not my fault i ate it all by myself!

Anonymous said...

mmmm. this looks really yummy. I'm going to try it one night when hubs is working (he's not a big fan of chickpeas). How much couscous did you use for this?

leslie @ definitely not martha said...

christie - I too love falafel. I love shawarma, but was a little turned off when I saw the massive carton of ungraded beef that went onto the skewer (no joke, it said that). SO falafel it is.....yum.

debbi - glad you enjoyed it! I just ate my leftovers for lunch and thoroughly enjoyed them too. :)

lesley - I used about 1 1/3 cups of dried couscous. It was plenty for four generous servings. :)

Thanks for the comments! As always, you've made my day!

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