Summer Chickpea, Zucchini + Tomato Basil Stew
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A large part of being creative is working within limits. Assessing the resources that are available to you and doing as much as you can with as little as possible. While sometimes, of course, this can be a bit frustrating, I have always loved the challenges this presents, whether it be in terms of my work, lifestyle, or even in the kitchen.
“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.”
Working as a choreographer in Tangier has given me a lot of experience creating with limited resources. Often my choices of venues to perform, rehearsal spaces, props and costumes and even possible crew members are all pretty minimal compared to what they might be in a city more saturated with performing arts. It has not always been easy, but it has forced me to think outside of the box in terms of how to put a show together and get even more creative with the whole process. For this lesson in itself, I am grateful. Often things that are created within limits such as these end up with even more originality and visible hard work behind them, because we are pushed outside of what we imagine and into unknown territory.
How do we do more with less?
This concept has stretched over into every aspect of my life, not just professional. In fact, I have always been someone who is naturally inclined towards thrift- putting limits on material possessions. My aunt, who is a costume maker, taught me how to shop in second-hand stores when I was a preteen, reworking and refashioning old pieces and vintage patterns. Most of my dance clothes are old big t-shirts from high school or previously owned by my brother and I have a tendency to wear out my good shoes down to the sole before I replace them. Furthering these minimalist and thrifty habits that I grew up with, traveling brought it out even more since I was essentially living out of a backpack for 9 months. I let things go and bought new clothes and necessities along the road, but there wasn’t much room for excess. Ever since, I have continued to pack light and even keep my general stuff at home to a minimum (besides books- I always have and always will have an excess of books).
There are a lot of minimalism movements lately and many people whom I would consider true minimalists out there. Professionals at doing more with less and working within the limits they give themselves in order to make less of an impact on the planet. Personally, I know there is a lot more work I can do to cut down my general consumption and waste, but I am doing what I can in small, mindful steps. I am trying to think about it all the same way I do those choreography projects- how can I make this creative and fun within what I already have? Consuming less may seem like a small personal step, but it can have an important impact on the people and world around us, along with teaching us to be grateful for and creative with what we do have.
Because I am not an expert, I thought I would share a handful of people who write beautifully and inspire me in this work towards less consumption:
Minimalist Baker- recipes that are the definition of getting creative with less
Design for Mankind- ethical, minimal fashion and general simple lifestyle
Kale & Caramel- she shares simple, diy beauty products from natural resources
In recent years and further inspired by some of the people above, I have also been more and more concerned about food waste as I hear about its impact on the planet. I am now trying my best to use up everything in the fridge before it spoils, buy less at grocery stores and pick up fresh and local produce more regularly at the local markets (which luckily is an easy thing to do here in Morocco), and get creative with making delicious things with as minimal ingredients as possible.
While there are some phases that I go through where I get into wild and exotic ingredients and dishes, most of my weekday meals tend to be fairly simple, using pantry staples that we always have on hand and are easy to whip up in minimal time. This particular recipe is one that I have made tons of different variations on. Tomato chickpea stew with eggplant, tomato chickpea stew with cauliflower, spinach, different spices, an egg on top, etc. So far, this summery variation is by far my favorite and therefore I just had to share the love.
Fresh and fragrant basil is probably one of my favorite things about summer, with zucchini and ripe tomatoes as a close second and third. All of these things chopped, stewed with chickpeas for protein, sprinkled with spices and served over rice make for the perfect hearty summer dish. I love to mix up a giant batch and keep it in the fridge or freezer for easy dinners throughout the week, because some nights it’s just to hot to spend time over the stove. So use that beautiful summer produce that is at your fingertips and make this simple, lovely weeknight meal.
Summer Chickpea, Zucchini + Tomato Basil Stew
Makes about 4 servings, vegan + gluten-free
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 3 small or 2 large zucchini, halves and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups (300g) chickpeas, cooked + drained
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup water or veggie stock
- 1 packed tbsp minced fresh basil
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Once it is hot, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant and just starting to brown. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices. Stir to combine, heating together for a couple minutes. Toss in the chickpeas and water or stock. Give it another mix and bring the stew to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cover, letting it simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the water has cooked down into a thicker tomato sauce.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the fresh basil, saving a couple leaves to garnish. Serve over rice or any grain of your choosing, top with extra basil leaves and enjoy.