Monday, March 15, 2010

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

I've got a case of cabin fever like you wouldn't believe.  After getting in such a great running groove in the past couple weeks, the hurricane/monsoon hitting the east coast feels especially claustrophobic to me.  Make no mistake, this is not a light and invigorating mist that you could sprint through feeling hearty and hardcore; this is sideways rain and gusting winds that would surely blow Baby J and me out to sea, never to be heard from again.  So, we remain inside, at least until tomorrow when the sun should blessedly return.  And what do we do inside?  We crawl around opening kitchen drawers, removing all their contents and banging them on the floor (Baby J) and we cook up a storm (Mama J).  On Sunday evening, I made one of my all time favorite healthy soups: Chickpea and Spinach Stew. 
To be fair, this recipe is not mine.  However, I've had it for so long that I can't even remember where I got it originally, so I fear I might be doing some copyright infringement here: if you know where this recipe came from, please let me know!  All I know is that it has been a frequently-requested item in my kitchen for a long, long time.  The recipe is baed on the Spanish dish called Garbanzos con Espinacas, and has an amazing subtle saffron flavor.  With the protein in the chickpeas and the iron in the spinach, it is a nutritional powerhouse as well.  This recipe is perfect for the cold month of March, where you're ready to lighten your meals a bit, but still want a warm and comforting stew to ward off the monsoon. 
Chickpea and Spinach Stew
2 cups water
20 ounces baby spinach (sounds like a lot, but it shrinks down to nothing)
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
Kosher salt
Large pinch of saffron threads
4 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Large pinch of ground cloves
Freshly ground pepper
4 15-oz cans chickpeas with their liquid
1/4 cup EVOO
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1) Pour the water into a large, deep pot and bring to a boil.  Add the spinach leaves and cook over high heat, tossing frequently, until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Drain the spinach in a colander, pressing hard on the leaves to extract the liquid.  Coarsely chop the spinach.
2) Using a mortar and pestle (if you have it, if you don't try a bowl and the side of a large spoon), mash the garlic to a paste with a teaspoon of the salt and the saffron.  Add the paprika, cumin, cloves, and black pepper and mash until combined.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the chickpea liquid.
3. Wipe out the pot.  Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and tomato and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occaisionally, until they are softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the spiced garlic sauce to the onion and tomato and cook for 1 minute.
4.  Add the chickpeas and their liquid to the pot.  Add the raisins and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the spinach, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 8

1 comment:

  1. jane! i made this delightful stew last night and it is indeed delicious. it was just the meal to use up the 2 cans of chickpeas i found lurking in the shadows of my pantry and the jungle of kale in my garden. i halved the recipe, substituted kale for spinach, and omitted the saffron (because i didn't have any in the spice drawer). minus saffron, the dish was lacking a little depth so i poured in a few glugs of white wine. i highly recommend this addition! i served the stew over white basmati and it was truly a hit- filling our bellies and leaving us feeling quite nourished. i will certainly be turning to this recipe again... thank you!