This plant-powered stew recipe packs in 12 veggies!!

We’re always trying to find new ways to get more nutrients, vitamins and minerals into our diets. In fact, it was one of our resolutions this year. And one great way to stick to it is by having a cookbook that gives you all the info you need about great sources of varied nutrition in your diet. Dr Alan Desmond’s new cookbook has got you covered.

'The Plant-Based Diet Revolution: 28 days to a happier gut and a healthier you', was published by Yellow Kite this January and is such a help in coming up with great dinner ideas. There’s nothing worse than having to search online for something that is a) good for you b) plant based and c) easy to whip up. This ‘Plant-Powered Stew with Braised Chickpeas & Couscous’ has 12 different plants, 17g of fibre and 20g of protein per serving. Incredible food for a health gut! Check out where to buy the cookbook here or here!

Dr Desmond says: ‘There are 12 different plants in this dish, but the real star is the aubergine. Baking it whole allows the inside to soften beautifully while the skin blisters in the heat of the oven.

‘As you know, I am all about maximising the diversity of plants. The gut microbial benefits of this simple approach to food are incredible. Every single recipe in 'The Plant-Based Diet Revolution' tells you exactly how many unique plants you just added to your day.’

‘Plant-Powered Stew with Braised Chickpeas & Couscous’

Ingredients:

1 large aubergine

1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion sliced

1 red pepper, deseeded, sliced

1 garlic clove finely chopped

50g green olives roughly chopped

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp smoked paprika

1 ½tbsp harissa

1x 400g can chopped tomatoes or passata

200ml vegetable stock

100g baby spinach

1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For braised chickpeas:

1 x 400g can chickpeas

Pinch of saffron

½ cinnamon stick

60g wholegrain couscous

100ml boiling water

Handful parsley chopped

Fresh mint leaves, chopped

Directions:

Step 1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Celsius fan. Put the aubergine on a baking tray and place in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once or twice, until it is soft and collapsing and the skin is blistered. Pinch it with a tongs to check. Set aside to cool slightly.

Step 2. Warm the olive oil or a few tablespoons of water in a large saucepan, then add the onion and red pepper. Fry over a medium heat for 15 minutes, until soft and starting to colour. Add a dash more water if the mixture looks like its catching.

Step 3. Meanwhile, tip the chickpeas and their liquid into a large saucepan. Add the saffron and cinnamon and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 20 minutes, until the chickpeas are very soft and starting to break down.

Step 4. When the onion mixture is ready stir in the garlic, olives, cumin, paprika and harissa. Fry for 1 minute before adding the tomatoes and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so.

Step 5. When the chickpeas are ready, stir in the couscous and add the boiling water, just enough to cover everything. Cover the pan and set aside for 5 – 10 minutes, until the couscous has plumped up and become tender.

Step 6. When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, peel away and discard the burnt skin; don’t be too fussy, the odd fleck adds a bit of smokiness. Roughly chop the flesh and stir into the stew along with the spinach. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and a squeeze or two of lemon juice.

Step 7.  Use a fork to fluff up the couscous and chickpeas. Stir in parsley and mint just before serving with the stew. Enjoy!

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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