What's For Dinner: Middle Eastern Lamb Stew with Couscous

Fall officially arrived on Tuesday, and with that came my sudden desire to make stew for dinner. I recently picked up a few new-to-me cookbooks from the library, and among the titles were two focused on one-pot meals. This Middle Eastern Lamb Stew recipe comes from EatingWell One-Pot Meals by Jessie Price & the EatingWell Test Kitchen.

This cookbook, from the publishers of EatingWell magazine (of which I am a fan and subscribe to on my Kindle), features over 100 healthy dinner recipes that don't require a lot of muss and fuss to make. (Hence the one-pot title.) I have to admit I am particularly drawn to cookbooks that have gorgeous photographs to match each recipe (I find it helps to know what the end result is supposed to look like), and this cookbook does not disappoint. I earmarked a number of pages in this cookbook, and this recipe for Middle Eastern Lamb Stew was the first that I tried. Spoiler alert: the stew was delicious.

I've never cooked with lamb before, but we recently picked up a package of lamb stew meat from Half Moon Hill, a small family farm located in Hamburg, Wisconsin. Half Moon Hill focuses on sustainable farming practices and raises their grass-fed sheep on pasture. We've visited their farm as part of Slow Food Marathon County's Farm Days and we've gleaned a lot of great information from Half Moon Hill owner's Sadie and Gerrid Franke (as well as other small family farmers in the Marathon County area) as we consider adding livestock to our little Northwoods farm.

The stew required only 15 minutes of prep time and then the slow cooker worked its magic. (Have I mentioned how much I love set-it-and-forget-it meals? Because, I really, really do.) The resulting stew was full of flavor and, when served over couscous, made for a perfectly satisfying and filling meal.

Middle Eastern Lamb Stew (printer-friendly version)
makes 8 servings

1 pound boneless lamb stew meat
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground sumac [optional]
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large white onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can organic crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2 cups baby spinach freshly ground black pepper and fine sea salt, to taste
1 box couscous, cooked according to the manufacturer's instructions

1. Pat the lamb meat dry and place in a 4-quart slow cooker bowl.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, cumin, coriander, cayenne, sumac, and salt. Spoon the spice paste onto the lamb, and toss to coat. (Using your clean hands to rub the spice mixture into the meat is the simplest way to do this.)
3. Top the lamb with the chopped onion, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, and minced garlic. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 5/12 - 6 hours or on high for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until the lamb is cooked through and tender.
4. Once the cooking time is complete, use a large spoon to remove any fat from the surface of the stew if necessary. Place 1/2 cup of the garbanzo beans in a small bowl and crush them with a fork. Stir the crushed beans along with the remaining whole beans into the stew. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season the stew to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Serve over couscous or your favorite grain.

(recipe adapted from EatingWell One-Pot Meals by Jessie Price & the EatingWell Test Kitchen)