If your slow cooker has a permanent place on the counter during these chilly fall days, you’re doing things right. It doesn’t get any better than coming in from the cold and sitting down to a bowl of hearty, homemade soup or stew.

A resolution to cook more from my pantry inspired this autumn dish. It combines many ingredients I keep on hand, such as canned chickpeas, tomato sauce, onions and spices, along with root vegetables, into a comforting vegetarian stew. Turnips and parsnips are some of the most underrated fall vegetables. They are not as vibrant as Brussels sprouts or as versatile as butternut squash, but they play nicely with other flavours. I love the earthiness they bring to a dish as well as their robust texture.

In this dish, cubes of turnip and parsnip are simmered slowly in a sauce seasoned with fragrant garam masala. They turn into buttery bites that hold their shape nicely, while a handful of golden raisins plump up to become almost as big as the creamy chickpeas. Nearly a pint of fresh-pressed apple cider adds both acidity and sweetness to the dish and a sprinkling of pistachios completes the hearty stew.

Serve it up as is or add a dollop of yogurt for good measure. It’s even better on the second day after the flavours have had an opportunity to mingle. Don’t forget the basket of crusty bread on the side.

Tip: For a vegan version, simply use olive oil in place of the ghee.

Slow-Cooker-Root-Vegetable-Cider-Stew-recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 to 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 medium turnips (about 1/2 pound)
2 large parsnips
2 tsp ghee or unsalted butter,  divided
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 cups fresh-pressed apple cider (unfiltered raw apple juice)
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup golden raisins
Chopped pistachios, for garnish
Full-fat plain organic yogurt, for topping (optional)

Directions:
1. Peel the turnip and cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes. Peel the parsnips and cut them slightly larger. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tsp (5 mL) of the Golden Ghee over medium heat. Slide in the onion, then stir and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle in the garlic and garam masala and cook for an additional minute.
2. Push the onions to the side of the pan and melt the remaining 1 tsp (5 mL) Golden Ghee. Tumble in the turnips and parsnips and stir to coat with the ghee. Toss in a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the vegetables to a slow cooker. Add the chickpeas, cider, tomato sauce, raisins and remaining salt. Stir well. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 5 hours. Slow cookers vary, so check the stew after about 4 hours. The stew is ready when the turnip is tender but not mushy. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios and a spoonful of yogurt if you wish.

Simple Bites Kitchen cover

Excerpted from The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day. Copyright © 2017 by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque. Photos copyright © Tim and Angela Chin. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.