Monday, December 22, 2014

This is a Test: Spinach and White Bean Stew

I'm testing recipes for my forthcoming book, Red Velvet Underground: A Memoir with Recipes, and today was the perfect day to test Spinach and White Bean Stew, a garlicky, nourishing meal-in-a-bowl, the perfect lunch at home. Try it! And let me know how it turns out...

Spinach and White Bean Stew

This dish is rich and flavorful, as if you worked on it for hours, but it comes together in 15 minutes thanks to the use of canned beans and pre-washed baby spinach. This was a great recipe to teach to my teenage son—it’s foolproof and satisfying! It is one of my favorite winter lunches or quick suppers. Serve with a good-quality baguette or hunk of bread.

Yield: 3-4 Servings

4 tablespoons olive oil (plus more, optional, to drizzle on top)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 cans small white beans, drained
1 scant tablespoon dried thyme
2 cups water
½ lb. bag pre-washed baby spinach or baby kale
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (plus more, optional, to sprinkle on top)

1. Warm olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook one minute, stirring constantly.

2. Add beans, thyme and water, bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered ten minutes.

3. Add spinach in big handfuls, stirring to incorporate and wilt.

4. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

5. Let soup sit and cool off for a few minutes to allow flavors to meld. Serve with optional olive oil and red pepper flakes on top.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I'm on Fire: Chickpeas and Chorizo

If it's grey and cloudy in your head AND in the sky, you might want to try this dish, guaranteed to burn those clouds away. The ones in your head, anyway.

Chickpeas and Chorizo is inspired by my recent interview with Chuck Prophet (read it here), in which he shares his version of this Spanish dish. Chuck's recipe is beautifully bare-bones, and totally rock and roll, but I wanted something richer and more complex, and here's what I came up with. The combination of spicy sausage (vegetarian "chorizo" works perfectly, vegetarians), hot paprika, and crushed red pepper is intense, but offset nicely by the creamy mouthfeel of the sauce. We served the leftovers for breakfast with a fried egg on top and it was a revelation. 

Chickpeas and Chorizo
Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ cup dry sherry or dry white wine
14.5-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
3 or 4 Spanish chorizo sausages, cut into large bite-sized pieces (vegetarian chorizo works great, I tried it)
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon hot smoked paprika, optional
Large handful parsley, coarsely chopped

Warm olive oil in a large, heavy pot. Add onions and celery, stir until they sizzle, then reduce heat to medium-low for ten minutes. Add garlic and stir well. Partially cover, and cook at least ten more minutes, until onions are golden brown and very soft.

Add crushed red pepper, sherry, and tomatoes and bring up to a strong simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Optional: After simmering, blend mixture until smooth and return to pot. Skip this if you prefer, but I recommend it—blending results in a wonderful color and texture.

Add chorizo, chickpeas, salt, pepper, and paprika (if using vegetarian sausage, wait and add after 30 minutes). Bring to a low simmer and cook partially covered for 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning (maybe a little more paprika?). Stir in parsley and serve. Cry and sweat. It's good for you.