Here on our Canadian homestead, all is very still under a blanket of white. The garden sleeps beneath a solid foot of snow and it will be another full months until we can tap our trees for maple sap. We’re staying warm any way we can, and that usually means big pots of comforting soups and stews.

The lavish holiday spreads have given way to humble fare, like a nourishing sweet potato black bean chili, or this rustic vegan stew. I’m craving healthy ingredients – wholegrains, lentils, root vegetables and beans – and always seeking new ways to prepare them.

A brand-new slow cooker and a resolution to cook more from my pantry this month inspired this wintery stew. It uses ingredients most of us keep on hand, such as canned chickpeas, tomato sauce, onions, garlic and a handful of raisins for a little sweetness. This stew comes together in an unceremonious chop ‘n’ dump kind of way, but the leisurely simmer in the slow-cooker transforms it into something very special indeed.

Cubes of turnip cook slowly in their garam masala-spiced sauce and turn into buttery bites that melt in the mouth. Nearly a pint of strong cider adds both acidity and sweetness to the dish, and a sprinkling of pistachios completes the stew.

It’s vegan, but easily filling enough for a main meal. Serve it up over couscous or with a wedge of crusty bread, and if you don’t mind about the dairy add a dollop of yoghurt for good measure. It’s even better on the second day, when the flavours have had time to mingle and improve their relationship, so don’t be shy about making a double batch.

Vegan slow-cooker chickpea stew

chickpea stew

Serves 4

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 medium turnips, peeled (about 250g)
  • 1 ½ cups hard cider
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 x 540ml can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

In a medium saucepan, melt the coconut oil over a medium heat. Dice the onions and sauté in the melted oil for 3 minutes. Mince the garlic and add to the pan with the garam masala. Cook for another minute.

Transfer the onion mixture to your slow cooker. Chop the turnip into 1cm cubes and add to the onions. Combine all remaining ingredients in the slow cooker, stir well and cover with the lid.

Set the slow cooker for 5 hours on high. Slow cookers may vary, so check the stew after about 4 hours – it’s ready when the turnip is tender but not mushy.

Serve with a sprinkling of flaky salt, chopped pistachios and parsley.


About the author

Aimée Wimbush-Bourque

Aimée Wimbush-Bourque is a former chef, food writer and Montreal urban homesteader. She writes the award-winning food blog Simple Bites, named “Best Kids’ Cooking Blog” by Saveur Magazine, where she chronicles her kitchen adventures with simple recipes, savvy cooking tips, vibrant photography and lively stories. She is also the author of the new cookbook "Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family recipes from the kitchen of Simple Bites" (Penguin, 2015). Aimée is wife to Danny, mama to Noah, Mateo & Clara, boss of two cats, and farmer of six brown hens. For more whole foods inspiration and everyday delicious chit-chat, follow Aimée on Twitter and Instagram.

Aimée Wimbush-Bourque

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Vegan