Meatless Monday for any day of the week: Spanish Chickpea and Spinach Stew

comfort food - veggie style

We have previously discussed my thoughts on being a vegetarian (lovely for many, not for me) and my thoughts on meat (try to make good decisions about where it comes from, etc. I don’t have guilt about eating something that had a good life) but there is this thing that happens in the food blogging world called Meatless Monday, and today, I am contributing.

I am not sure how Meatless Monday came about, but I think the theory behind it is to go a day without meat because it is good for our human selves and the earth. I can get behind that. The funny thing is I actually eat vegetarian plenty of the time. I probably only eat red meat a couple of times a month, maybe once a week, if you count cured meats and the like. I eat a lot of chicken for sure. But I eat meat free meals fairly regularly, especially if I am allowed to count eggs as meat free. My pasta is almost always meat free and I eat that all the time. I just rarely make the connection that what I am eating is vegetarian. I like the idea of Meatless Monday as a broad idea for the betterment of humanity. My only issue with it is maybe the Monday part. As my good friend M said “umm, Meatless Monday drives me crazy because Monday is the day after I grocery shop and when I am most likely to have meat.” Touché M.

This is a long way of saying that this recipe would be an excellent addition to a Meatless Monday repertoire, even if you choose to make it a Meatless Thursday instead.

chickpea and spinach stew

I discovered I like chickpeas fairly recently (I think I have mentioned the deep dark secret I carried around with me for the entirety of my youth and into my adult years as a cooking and food obsessed human – there are plenty of things I did not like at all, but I just never really discussed it, so I don’t think anyone knew…curries, and “Indian Food” more broadly, chickpeas, sauces with yogurt in them, feta cheese (still HATE this one) game meats, sun-dried tomatoes (still not sold) roe of various things, roasted red peppers, smoked salmon (STILL, blech) avocados(?!?!?)) but I am coming around. My palate is expanding. I think my distaste for chickpeas comes from their customary spot in a salad bar. When chickpeas are on a salad bar they look rubbery and shiny and weird and generally unappetizing, so I assumed I did not like them. I still do not like chickpeas from a salad bar, but chickpeas in food are something I can get behind. I started with Chana Masala, and fried chickpeas, and one of my regular “I just got home and I am already so hungry I could eat my hand” thrown together dinners is chickpeas fried for a moment, spiced with ras el-hanout or curry powder, with red onions thrown in the pan to wilt, and then tossed with olive oil, lemon juice and shaved parmesan cheese – so random and really quite good. So when I saw, in my meander through old Food & Wine mags, a recipe for Spanish tapas inspired chickpea stew I decided to give it a go. I am quite pleased that I did. I have already made it a couple of times, it reheats really well for lunches, and it is very comforting while still feeling healthy. And it’s quick!

And now, I bid you adieu. Many apologies if this sounds like it was written by a crazy person, I worked 13 hours today and I am a little punchy…

Before we get to the actual recipe…so many things!

Downton Downton Downton Downton. Oh Downton Abbey how I love thee…

Yo soy fiesta.

One month til Denver to visit the littlest…I can’t wait.

Portlandia? Supposed to be the funniest thing ever? Am I doing it wrong?

I hope you are reading the City Kitchen columns by David Tanis in the New York Times. I want to make everything immediately.

Remember the ginger chicken soup I had on the stove? Umm, I think it might cure colds. I have a sample of one so far, but it definitely worked. If I get another cold I will try it again and let you know.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew (serves 4)

Adapted from Food & Wine

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 14 oz can diced tomatoes

1/4 cup golden raisins

10 oz baby spinach

Use the flat side of a large knife and 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.

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