Funnily enough, the end of summer is actually my favorite part of this season. I love the cooler nights, the hint of autumn in the air, reclaiming my schedule, and the return of friends from far flung summer adventures. But, of course, I especially love the bounty of the late summer harvest. Gardens, farmers markets, and CSAs are in peacock mode in the late days of August and throughout the month of September.
This easy, easy stew is an homage to all the goodies coming out of the ground right now. Eggplants, onions, and peppers are brought together with a puree of fresh summer tomatoes and topped off with baby spinach and fragrant basil.
You can enjoy this stew as I’ve written it here with boneless chicken thighs, or try it as a vegetarian main. It’s delicious served over pasta or with crusty, hearty peasant bread. And don’t skip the yogurt. The tangy finish really seals the deal.
2lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 large eggplant, chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 large tomatoes, halved and grated for pulp on the large holes of a box grater (discard the skin)
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
A large handful of baby spinach
Fresh basil and Greek or Bulgarian yogurt for serving
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season it all over with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken in two batches and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the pan and stir in the onion, pepper, and eggplant. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 12-15 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, coriander, and cumin and cook, stirring for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Pour in the vinegar and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift off any brown bits, for about 1 minute, until almost evaporated. Add the tomato pulp, stock, and the chicken and juices to the pan. Push the chicken down into the stew juices. Increase the heat to medium to bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cover. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Just before serving, stir in the spinach to wilt slightly. Taste and add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with shredded basil and fresh yogurt.
Nutritional analysis based on 4 servings (does not include salt and pepper to taste and basil and yogurt for serving):
Calories 516, Fat 27g, Sodium 309 mg, Carbohydrate 19, Fiber 7g, Sugars 9g, Protein 48g