Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chickpea and Spinach Stew: Tight-Budget Cooking, Part 2

January marches on. So many beans, so little time. We had friends over for dinner midweek and wanted to make something slightly elegant that could be whipped up after work and that also fit into our monthlong mission to eat mostly beans.

Enter Chickpea and Spinach Stew, served with Israeli Couscous; quick, easy, yummy, and - though not exactly elegant - just special enough to serve to company. I'm a little in love with the chunky texture of Israeli Couscous right now, which I only recently discovered in the bulk bins, and I think it makes this dish a bit more interesting (and I've included a basic recipe for it, below), but plain old couscous or rice would be good too.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew 
Serves 8 (I'm making big quantities so we have leftovers for lunch, but this halves perfectly well)

4 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika (smoked paprika is best, regular is fine)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
1 lb spinach, washed, tough stems removed, chopped (or use baby spinach, no need to chop)
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt or more, to taste
Juice of one lemon or 2 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar

Warm olive oil on medium-low heat in a large pot, add garlic and spices, and cook gently for one minute.

Stir in chickpeas, coating them well with oil and spices.

Add spinach a few handfuls at a time. Stir well.

Add water and salt, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You could make your couscous now. Or, better, get your kid or partner to make couscous and stir the stew while you take a quick shower and/or open a bottle of wine.

Stir in lemon juice or vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot on a bed of something.

Plain Israeli Couscous
Serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Israeli couscous
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Warm olive oil in a large pot, add couscous and stir for two minutes.

Add water, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10-12 minutes.

And hope that if you have non-vegetarian friends over for dinner and serve them beans they are as sweet and appreciative as our friends were - and take it as a high compliment when they ask for the recipe!