I try to devote at least one day a week to a completely vegetarian diet. This was something I began doing four years ago when I gave up fast food, but there have been a few instances when I didn’t do so well, such as during the past couple of weeks. Up until last night, my last vegetarian day was the day before Thanksgiving, so I was thinking that I’d better get back on track or else I’d be using the plentiful goodies available during the upcoming holidays as an excuse for not sticking to my plan.

On the GroupRecipes.com Website, I found a really tasty slow cooker vegetarian stew recipe that I made for the first time last night. “Moroccan Slow Cooker Stew” is one of those recipes that is so flavorful and so satisfying that you really don’t miss the fact that it doesn’t have any meat.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3-quart (or larger) slow cooker
  • small sauté pan or skillet
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (I used two, because one just didn’t seem like enough)
  • 1 medium butternut squash that has been peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (The recipe provides this nifty tip: In order to make the job of peeling the butternut squash a bit easier, pierce it with a fork in several places and microwave it on high for a few minutes to loosen the skin.)
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (I used my own home grown tomatoes that I had in the freezer.)
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 15 oz. canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ teaspoon table salt

Here’s what to do:

  • Coat a small skillet with cooking spray. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes. (I almost skipped this step because I didn’t want to use anything other than my slow cooker to cook this dish, but I decided that it wouldn’t kill me to drag out a sauté pan and cook the onion and garlic on the stovetop for five minutes. Sautéing the onion and garlic adds extra flavor. I did, however, use olive oil rather than the cooking spray suggested in the recipe.)
  • Place the cubed squash in a 3-quart (or larger) slow cooker; add the sautéed onion and garlic, carrots, tomatoes, broth, cinnamon, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Cover the slow cooker, turn the heat setting to low, and simmer the ingredients for 6 hours. (Actually, I let mine go for 8 ½ hours while I was at work and it seemed to be okay—maybe just a little bit mushier than it might have been had I cooked it for the suggested 6 hours.)
  • After 6 hours has elapsed (or, as in my case, 8 ½ hours), add the chickpeas and salt. Stir, cover, and heat for an additional 5 minutes. (Again, I let it go a tad longer—20 minutes.)
  • That’s it! Enjoy!
  • Note: the recipe suggests that you can top the stew with a dollop of plain yogurt to help reduce the spiciness, which is a good idea if you don’t like a bit of kick in your food.

The chickpeas, cinnamon, and cumin in this recipe give the dish a real North African flair, which I found quite appealing. I simply ate the stew with some crusty French bread dipped in olive oil. Simple and delicious—my kind of food.