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Cooking | Magazine

Recipes: Three satisfying vegetable stews for fall

From Mexico, Senegal, and Ethiopia, these three hearty dishes include big pops of flavor.

Pozole with collard greens.
Pozole with collard greens.Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

Hearty autumn cooking doesn’t have to mean heavy, meaty dishes. Around the world, vegetable stews often are just as satisfying thanks to bold pops of flavor. We start with a twist on Mexican pozole where we substitute collard greens for the more traditional pork. Next we take two staples of West African cooking, black-eyed peas and sweet potatoes, to form the base of ndambe, which we infuse with coconut oil for robust richness. Finally, the Ethiopian spice blend berbere — a pungent red mixture that can include dozens of spices, herbs, allium, and chilies — flavors an otherwise simple stew of chickpeas, lentils, and fresh parsley.

Pozole With Collard Greens

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Makes 4 servings

Traditional Mexican pozole is a hearty stew of pork and hominy or dried corn kernels cooked in an alkaline solution (also called pozole) flavored with chilies. In this simpler, lighter version, collard greens stand in for the meat; cooking the puree of ancho chilies, tomatoes, and onion eliminates excess moisture and concentrates the ingredients. Serve with warmed tortillas and garnishes such as shredded cabbage, radishes, crumbled queso fresco, and avocado.

2 ancho chilies (about 1 ounce), stemmed, seeded, and soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained

1 white onion, roughly chopped

1 pound plum tomatoes, cored and halved

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons grape-seed or other neutral oil

28-ounce can hominy, drained

1 bunch collard greens, stemmed and chopped

1 quart low-sodium chicken broth or water

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges, to serve

In a blender, combine the chilies, onion, tomatoes, oregano, and cumin. Puree until smooth, scraping down the blender as needed, about 1 minute.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the puree and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened and darker, about 10 minutes. Add the hominy and collards, then cook, stirring, until the collards begin to wilt and turn bright green, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, 2 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil over high, then cover and reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the collards are tender, about 45 minutes.

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Stir in the lime juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Stew (Ndambe)

Makes 6 servings

In this recipe for Senegalese ndambe (pronounced NAM-bay), sweet potatoes and black-eyed peas simmer together. Chilies add heat and unrefined coconut oil brings sweetness to a dish that comes together quickly thanks to the convenience of canned black-eyed peas. Chopped tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon juice go in off-heat for a light, fresh finish.

A neutral-flavored oil won’t work in this dish. Coconut oil — particularly unrefined — infuses the stew with a sweet flavor while adding richness.

2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

8 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 Fresno chilies, stemmed and sliced into thin rings

3 14½-ounce cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

2 bay leaves

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 pound plum tomatoes, cored and chopped

1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus lemon wedges, to serve

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In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the coconut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper, then cook, stirring, until the onion is light golden brown and softened, 7 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and chilies, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the black-eyed peas, bay leaves, and 5 cups of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.

Stir in the sweet potatoes and 2 teaspoons salt. Cover, reduce to medium-low heat, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Off of the heat, stir in the tomatoes, parsley, and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.

Ethiopian chickpea stew with berbere spice blend.
Ethiopian chickpea stew with berbere spice blend.Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

Ethiopian Chickpea Stew With Berbere Spice Blend

Makes 4 servings

Meant to be served with injera (Ethiopian flatbread) and other dishes to comprise a complete meal, shiro wat is a thick, rustic puree. We love the flavors, but wanted it as a stew hearty enough to be a vegetarian main dish, so we opted to use canned chickpeas. Ground red lentils give our stew added earthiness while also acting as a thickener. As a cooking fat, we use Indian ghee, which approximates the flavor of Ethiopian fermented butter but is easier to find. Look for ghee in the supermarket aisle near coconut oil or in the refrigerator aisle next to the butter. If you cannot find it, use salted butter but also add 1 teaspoon of white miso when adding the water.

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Stir the stew after adding the ground lentils and water. The lentils thicken the liquid and have a tendency to stick to the pan, so scrape along the bottom to prevent scorching.

2 tablespoons red lentils

3 tablespoons ghee (see note)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

8 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons berbere (see following recipe)

2 15½-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 jalapeño or Fresno chili, stemmed and chopped (optional)

In a spice grinder, pulse the lentils until finely ground, about 10 pulses; set aside. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the ghee. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and berbere. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have given up their liquid and the mixture begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, ground lentils, 2 cups of water, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium and cook at a simmer, uncovered and stirring often, until the sauce clings to the chickpeas, about 15 minutes. Off heat, stir in the parsley and chili pieces (if using). Taste and season with salt and pepper.

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Berbere Spice Blend

Makes about 1 cup

The Ethiopian seasoning blend called berbere (pronounced bear-ba-ree) is sold in some well-stocked supermarkets and spice shops or can be ordered online. It’s easy enough, though, to make a simple homemade version using readily available spices. To pulverize the dried basil, use a mortar and pestle or pulse the leaves in an electric spice grinder.

¼ cup smoked sweet paprika

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1½ teaspoons granulated garlic or garlic powder

1¼ teaspoons ground cardamom

1 teaspoon dried basil, ground or crushed to a powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients. The berbere will keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot for up to two months.


Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.