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January Resolution Check-In

This month’s resolution is to try (and share) at least 1 new recipe a week. I made Chickpea and Spinach Stew from Food and Wine Magazine.

Confession: I don’t try new foods or flavors as often as I think I should. When I find something that really hits the spot, I make it over and over. Even in restaurants where the menu is certain to be full of winners, I find my dish and I stick with it. Sure, there’s something to be said for knowing what you like (they don’t call if comfort food for nothing) but it feels good to shake things up once in a while and that’s why I jumped at this month’s resolution.

I chose this recipe for a few reasons. First, it’s vegetarian. I used to be a vegetarian – vegan for a few years – and, although I eat meat now, I still love vegetarian cooking. The food seems lighter, brighter, and there’s ample evidence that eating plants is very, very good for us. Second, Spanish cooking intrigues me, especially the warm, earthy-sweet spices like saffron, cloves and paprika. And, finally, by mid-January I’ve hit the repeat button on my favorite soups and stews so many times that even I am ready for a change.

This stew is incredibly easy to make, though it does have a few specialty ingredients. As I made it I thought, “What if I didn’t use this or that?" But as soon as I tasted the finished dish, I got it: the ingredients in this recipe work together to make this simple dish taste much more complex. So, while I might normally be inclined to skip or substitute for specialty ingredients, here I will say, “Don’t skip the saffron. Or the cloves. Or the golden raisins. And use really nice olive oil if you can get it.” [But, if you have time, make your own chickpeas].

Share Score: 4 out of 4 diners rated this recipe worth making again!

In addition to being seasonal and vegetarian, this dish demonstrates how easy and transformative sauces can be. If you want to learn more about sauces, you can register for Sauces 1 & Sauces 2. Or come to our Class Preview Night at get 15% off when you sign up for any cooking or gardening class!

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Food and Wine Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas with their liquid
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Directions:

Pour the water into a large deep skillet 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.

Using the flat side of a large knife, mash the garlic to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the saffron. Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl. Add the paprika, cumin, cloves and black pepper and mash until combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of the chickpea liquid.

Wipe out the skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and tomato and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the spiced garlic sauce to the onion and tomato in the skillet and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chickpeas and the remaining liquid to the skillet. Add the raisins and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the spinach, reduce the heat to moderate, and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the chickpea stew to 4 deep bowls, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top, and serve.