I really don't like January. I realise this is one of those statements which as obvious as "grass is green" or "the sky is blue" or "pizza is the greatest thing ever", but like, I really don't like January. I don't like the weather, I don't like the judgemental diet talk and inevitable post-Christmas guilt adverts force us to feel, and I don't like how far away summer feels in that miserable, miserable month. I spent most of my January watching Gilmore Girls and ploughing my way through never ending Christmas leftovers, which is really the only way to deal with New Year blues, and it was only when I got back to uni at the end of the month that I started feeling like I wanted to cook again. See, I'm not the biggest fan of February either, but the incremental thawing of the midwinter cold and the gradual lightening of the evenings makes for one slightly happier hobbit.
Still, that doesn't change the fact that, by this time of the year, I am so done with heavy winter food. Get pastry & pies away from me, hide the casseroles, and make sure I never see another roast dinner again as long as I live. All I want to eat right now is bowls full of colour, and this roasted veg & chickpea stew is perfect for brightening up these dark and dreary days. This is super easy and endlessly adaptable - essentially, just chuck a bunch of vegetables into a tin, roast them up with salt, pepper, and olive oil, then add in some chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, spinach & chopped coriander. I went with the usual suspects of courgettes, aubergines, peppers & sweet potatoes, but you can roll however you wanna roll. Best enjoyed on a rainy dismal evening in the middle of February, warm in the knowledge that seasons are made to change, and that summer is as inevitable as winter.
To serve 4, you will need:
- 3 courgettes.
- 1 aubergine.
- 2 sweet potatoes.
- 2 red peppers.
- 1 onion.
- 3 garlic cloves.
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Salt & pepper.
- 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes.
- 1 400g can of chickpeas.
- Several generous handfuls of baby spinach.
- Handful of fresh coriander.
1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
2. Chop up the courgettes & aubergine into bite size chunks. Deseed the red peppers & chop them into chunks as well, then peel the sweet potatoes and chop them up too.
3. Peel & roughly chop up your onion, then peel & roughly chop the garlic cloves.
4. Place all your vegetables into a roasting tin and cover with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle on a liberal amount of salt and pepper then rub it all together with your hands.
5. Roast for 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so until all the vegetables are cooked through.
6. Remove the tin from the oven & place it on the stove on a low-medium heat. Add in a can of chopped tomatoes, followed by a drained can of chickpeas. Bring to a simmer and gently stir for a few minutes.
7. Add a few large handfuls of spinach - remembering that it will wilt down considerably - and a small bunch of chopped fresh coriander.
8. Stir gently until the spinach has wilted, and serve.
Serve with brown rice or cous cous, or just on it's own if you're feeling super virtuous. This freezes beautifully too, making it the ideal thing to stash away in your freezer for the days where it's too cold and miserable to even contemplate going to the supermarket.