I love Autumn with its crisp weather, falling leaves, and vague frisson of back-to-school excitement even for those of us truly past school days (but once a dork, always a dork). But what I love most about it is the seasonal foods. It is true that nothing can beat a sun-fragranced tomato or a mid-summer corn cob, but in consolation for taking away daylight and warmth in the fall, nature kindly gives us butternut squash, kale, brussels sprouts (yes! If you hate them, you just haven't had them cooked properly), apples, cauliflower, and -- my favorite -- sweet potatoes. And this week, my vegetable box delivered them.
I had chickpeas in the cupboard so immediately thought of a Moroccan tagine with sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and the warm, heady spices of the region. But then I found a poor fennel bulb hiding in the fridge and my tastebuds leaped north across the Mediterranean to the south of France. I wouldn't dare call my dish a Bouillabaisse, but the base is similar. Full disclosure: the lovely container is one I use frequently to carry my lunch. Made by Rubbermaid, it doesn't pick up food stains and is fairly leakproof when sealed properly.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 C. chicken or vegetable stock
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 1 C.)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 can chickpeas
good pinch saffron
salt and pepper to taste.
Saute the onion, carrot, and fennel until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until softened.
Add stock, tomatoes, potatoes, chickpeas, and saffron, bring to the boil, and then simmer until potatoes are soft. Season well.