Butternut Squash Stew With Pomegranate Salsa by the weekend vegetarian

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large onion, chopped
1-inch piece peeled ginger root, grated
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 serrano chili pepper, seeded and chopped
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes, preferably low-sodium or no-salt-added, plus their juices
1 large carrot, scrubbed well and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium (about 1 1/2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Water (optional)
4 to 5 ounces baby spinach leaves, chopped (4 cups loosely packed)
15 ounces canned chickpeas, preferably no-salt-added, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon Tabasco, harissa or other hot sauce of your choice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
12 mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the stew: Pour the oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom and cloves; sizzle them for a few seconds, then add the onion, stirring to coat. Cook until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes, then add the ginger, garlic and serrano pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until soft, 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, the carrot, squash and enough water, if needed, to barely cover the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in the spinach, chickpeas, cilantro and hot sauce; season lightly to taste with salt and black pepper. Cook for just a few minutes, to wilt the spinach and heat the chickpeas through. Remove from the heat; cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, make the salsa: Stir together the pomegranate seeds, scallions, lime juice, mint and oil in a small bowl.

Serve the stew warm, with the salsa on top or served on the side. 6-8 servings; makes 8 cups