CHICKPEA & SPINACH STEW


I’m sure you’re more than aware by now but, in case you’re not, I live with a vegetarian. I know right?! Poor ol’ meat loving me. On the plus side he will eat fish so there is some scope to move beyond what I find to be the uninspiring prospect of staring at veg and trying to imagine things beyond soup, curry and ratatouille. It does mean that, not only do I have to continually come up with quick and easy mid-week meals, they tend not to be something I can prep in five minutes then just chuck in the oven for an hour knowing it’ll reduce to something delicious. You do that with veg and it all ends up a bit samey and moosh like. Cue chickpeas. I used to hate them, I won’t bore you with details of my journey to chickpea fandom but since cohabiting with a vegetarian I have seen the light. Once I discovered how beautifully they go with stuff you’re likely to have knocking around in your kitchen I was sold. Laced with garlic and paprika these unassuming legumes transform from a Reliant Robin to a Golf GTI – Alright maybe that metaphor's a bit of a stretch but what I’m saying is they become tasty, really, really tasty.

Inspired by the Spanish dish Espinacas con Garbanzo this is a regular favourite at our gaff. It’s cheap as to make, takes no time at all to put together and is really tasty – just what you want from a quick mid-week meal. It’s also really forgiving so it won’t punish you by reducing to a bitter mess if you have to turn your back on it for ten minutes to deal with a screaming kid or an urgent email. Trust me, I know!

Ingredients:

800g Tinned chickpeas

1 White onion (you can use a yellow one too) diced

3 Cloves of garlic crushed

1 Bay leaf

Half a lemon

1 Teaspoon of smoked paprika

350g Passata

115 Grams of fresh spinach

Glug of olive oil

Good pinch of sea salt

Tablespoon of Greek yogurt

1. Heat olive oil in a big heavy bottom pan. Add garlic, onion and paprika and cook on a lowish heat until reduced to a soft gooey heap that's just starting to brown but not burn!

2. Add the passata and stir in. Then add the spinach a bit at a time – allow each addition to wilt slightly before adding the next batch. reduce the heat to low and leave this to simmer, stirring occasionally for about five minutes

3. Add the chickpeas and their liquid, a bay leaf and a pinch of salt to the tomato mix, stir well then bring to a boil. Then reduce it back down to a low heat and leave to barely simmer for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom (though I forgot about mine for a good 10 minutes and it was still delicious although the pan wasn’t fun to wash up after). It’s ready once it’s reduced to a nice, thickish stew. Season with salt and pepper if you feel it needs it

4. To finish, squeeze some lemon on top. If you’re feeling really chichi you can add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a dollop of greek yogurt and an extra sprinkling of smoked paprika on top

Serve with some crusty bread and a simple rocket salad. Job done!