Submitted by: Courtney
Recipeby: Adapted from a Lorna Sass recipe

1/2 teaspoons saffron threads
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of cayenne (depending on desired heat)
1 large red onion, thinly sliced into rings
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced into rings
1 1/2 tablespoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 1/2 Cups chickpea cooking-liquid (if it tastes good), vegetable broth, or water, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 1/2 Cups cooked chickpeas or one 15-ounce can, drained
2 lbs. peeled butternut, buttercup, or other winter squash, trimmed and seeded
10 ounces spinach, trimmed of thick stems and cut into bits
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Crumble the saffron into a small bowl and pour the water on top. Set aside.

Place coriander and cumin seeds in a small, heavy skillet and set over high heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until the spices emit a fragrance, pop, or begin to darken, 1 to 2 minutes (take care not to burn them.) Immediately transfer the seeds to a coffee grinder (or a mortar and pestle). Cool for a minute or two, then grind into a fine powder. Blend in the cinnamon and cayenne. Set aside.

In a heavy 5-quart pot, heat some water over med.-high heat. Stir in the red and yellow onion rings and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, 4 to 5 min (add more water as needed). Stir in the ginger and reserved ground spices and cook for 20 seconds. Add the chickpea cooking liquid, reserved saffron and its soaking water, salt, and a few twists of pepper. Bring to a boil.

Stir in the chickpeas and squash. Cover and cook over med. heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, but still firm, about 25-35 min. Stir in a bit of broth or water during this time if the mixture becomes too dry.

Stir in the spinach and lemon zest. Cover and cook just until the spinach is tender, a minute or two. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Just before serving, stir in enough lemon juice to balance the sweetness.

The stew will thicken as it stands, but if you wish to thicken the sauce immediately, mash a few pieces of squash against the sides of the pot with a fork, and stir well to blend.

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