Cauliflower, Shrimp, and Chickpea Stew

I have no idea how to cook for one. To be honest, I have no idea how to cook for two, either, but at least when I’m cooking for two, there are twice as many people eating the leftovers. When it’s just me, well, give me 48 hours and I’m drowning in food.

And yet. One day last week, while Pete was traveling, I found myself chopping up a head of cauliflower, throwing some tomatoes in a pot, and making this lovely little stew.

cauliflower stew

The basic idea came from this Real Simple recipe, another find from the recipe binder. The recipe as written was vegetarian, but I had some shrimp in the freezer and figured the flavors would mesh pretty well. (Trader Joe’s tip: the frozen uncooked shrimp are better than the frozen cooked shrimp, which don’t really have a taste.)

I happened to make this recipe on CSA box pickup night, so I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned, and because nobody but me was ever going to eat this, I didn’t bother to remove the tomato skins. I don’t think I even knew until a couple of weeks ago that I was supposed to be removing tomato skins — tomato newbie, remember? — and they don’t bother me at all, but I’m sure peeling the tomatoes wouldn’t hurt.

I had one brief moment of panic when I realized that by using fresh tomatoes, I’d lost some of the liquid that would have come from using canned tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of water wasn’t nearly enough to cover all the vegetables in the pot and bring them to a simmer. I splashed in a little bit of broth that I happened to have in the fridge and hoped for the best. Of course, eventually, the tomatoes released more liquid and I had a bit of a soupy mess on my hand. Another 15 minutes of simmering and all was well.

Even by week-of-many-leftovers standards, this held up well in the fridge and was pretty decent cold (though better once reheated). Not sure how often I’ll have these exact ingredients in the fridge, but if I ever do again, I’ll be coming back to this.

Cauliflower, Shrimp, and Chickpea Stew
(Adapted from Real Simple)

Ingredients
1 medium onion, chopped
28 oz. tomatoes (canned whole or chopped fresh, peeled or not)
15 oz. chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
5 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped
6-8 large shrimp, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup to 1 cup of water or broth
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
salt and pepper

Instructions
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan (I used my Dutch oven) over medium heat. Cook the onion until softened.

2. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid, if using canned, or a bit of broth or water if using fresh), cumin, ginger, and salt and pepper, and stir

3. Add the chickpeas, cauliflower, chopped shrimp, and 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit more water or broth.

4. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and the sauce has thickened

5. Remove from heat and, working in batches, stir in the spinach until just wilted.

Serve by itself or over couscous or rice. (Serves four.)

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