North African Chicken and Vegetable Stew

The spice blend of ginger, turmeric and cinnamon adds richness and is a healthful addition to this dish because of its anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re making it ahead, wait until just before serving to add the spinach; the acid in the tomatoes will discolor it. Serve with whole wheat couscous.

1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups sliced carrots (1/2 inch) (4 medium)
1 3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 8), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed
1 (14.5-oz.) can lower-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup raisins
1 (5-oz.) pkg. baby spinach (5 cups)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Harissa or Tabasco to taste*

1. Combine onion, garlic, oil, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 3 to 4 minutes or until onion and garlic are softened, stirring once.

2. Place carrots in bottom of 5- to 6-quart slow cooker; layer onion mixture, chicken and beans over carrots. Pour in broth and tomatoes.

3. Cook, covered, on high 3 1/2 to 4 hours or on low 6 to 8 hours, or until chicken is no longer pink in center and vegetables are tender. (For a thicker consistency, remove 1 cup garbanzo beans and coarsely mash with potato masher or fork; return to slow cooker.) Add raisins; cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Stir in spinach until wilted; add lemon juice and harissa. Serve with additional harissa.

8 (1 1/4-cup) servings

PER SERVING: 285 calories, 8 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 26.5 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 65 mg cholesterol, 375 mg sodium, 5.5 g fiber

TIP *Harissa is a North African hot sauce made from chiles, garlic and spices. It can be found in specialty food stores or Middle Eastern markets.