[recipe] Our alboronía, a vegetable stew for cold days

Alboronia, Andalusian vegetable stew. Anna Mayer / The Kilomeaters
Warm vegetable goodness

Winter has finally arrived, and lots of pouring water with it. We’ve had a pretty warm and dry autumn, and now all the rain we didn’t have in 2015 is coming down. Right here in Boiro, yessir. Our Galician mind thinks it’s ok – “Let it rain now so we’ll have a milder spring!”. Not that it works that way, but what are we supposed to do?

To warm up our wet days we find comfort in vegetables: grilled, roasted and stewed. One of our favourites is this version of alboronía, a traditional Andalusian vegetable stew. There are different recipes around, many involve aubergines, some skip the chickpeas, some have quince, all include pumpkin. Given the ingredients it uses – pumpkin, peppers, tomatoes – it is rather an autumn recipe, but peppers are tasty and available all year round, and even if the tomato isn’t super ripe it will fit well into this dish.

I can’t recall where I got this recipe, I looked into my Spanish cooking cookbooks but can’t find anything like this. I usually make it just with onions, green and red peppers, potatoes, pumpkin and tomatos, plus some cooked chickpeas. The great thing is that it all cooks into a pot (great recipe for slow cookers as well!) and you can make a large batch of it and use it over a few days (freezing is not recommended because of the potatoes).

Alboronia / the kilomeaters
Chopped up vegetables ready to get cooking!

Alboronía (Anna style)

  • half an onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves,crushed
  • 1/2 kg pumpkin, cut into large chunks (in Seville I would use the local traditional pumpkin, green outside and light yellow inside, rather like this, but you can use butternut or winter squash as well)
  • 1 green pepper (the long ones, less sweet), cut into large chunks
  • 1 sweet red pepper, cut into large chunks
  • 2-3 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large tomato
  • 400g of cooked chickpeas (you can cook them yourself or use canned)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, pepper, cumin, sweet or hot pimentón

In a large pot where you can fit all the ingredients, pour some olive oil (2 to 4 tablespoons) and gently sauté the onion and the crushed garlic.

Meanwhile clean and chop the other vegetables, rinse and drain the chickpeas if you’re using canned. Homecooked chickpeas are great, but for this recipe here I often use canned because they cook with the vegetables and absorb a lot of flavour. Also, canned chickpeas in Spain are usually of very good quality!

Once the onion and garlic are sautéed, add the drained chickpeas, put the whole tomato in the middle and the rest of the vegetables all around. Add a little salt (half a teaspoon) and a little ground cumin (I’d start with less than half a teaspoon and move up from there), add some water (it should cover the vegetables halfway), cover and let it cook on medium-low heat until all vegetables are cooked, about 20-30 minutes.

Check the liquid level and the doneness after 15 minutes. The result should be a liquidy stew or a thcik soup, depends which way you look at it. Check salt and spices (amount of cumin, add black pepper and paprika) and enjoy!

The key to this dish flavour is the mix of earthy pumpkin, potatoes and chickpeas with sour and sweet peppers and tomatoes. The cumin and pimentón kind of bind all these together.

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