CHARD & CHICKPEA STEW
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You’re going to need to raid the spice cabinet for this recipe, and you’ll get brownie points if you toast and freshly grind whole spices instead of using the powders on the supermarket shelf. But either way, this is a flavorful dish that’s perfect with a cup of mint tea on a summer night.
If you’re using dried chickpeas, you’ll need to start soaking them the night before you want to make this stew. Then drain the beans, rinse them, and simmer in enough water to cover for two hours, while you’re making the rest of your meal.
In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of cumin, a teaspoon each of turmeric, cardamom and coriander, and a half a teaspoon of cayenne. Then, empty your vegetable drawer. I like to use onion, garlic, sweet peppers, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower – whatever’s in season! If you feel like having meat, grab some lamb stew or boneless chicken thighs. You’ll also need some fresh herbs, like thyme, cilantro and parsley, some stock or broth, tomato paste and cous cous to serve with the stew. And of course, your chard!
Get your mise en place together: Chop the onion, garlic, peppers, carrots, zukes, cauliflower and whatever else you’re using. Rinse and de-stem the thyme, cilantro and parsley. Place your broth and tomato paste in a saucepan on the stove and bring to a simmer, covered. If you like spicy food, pop a habanero in the freezer for a few minutes to make chopping tiny bits of it easier. Wash and destem a bunch of chard but DO NOT THROW THOSE STEMS AWAY!! Slice them up into 1″ logs.
When your materials are all mised and your broth is simmering, it’s time to begin cooking. In a large, heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp of oil over med-high heat. If you’re using meat, throw this in first and brown it, then remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and tent with foil.
When oil is hot but not smoking, toss your dried spices in and stir until they begin to release their scent, about 30-60 seconds. Add your onion, carrot, garlic and thyme and sauté until it begins to turn translucent, about 6 minutes. This rhyme should help prevent you from burning your allium: your onion or garlic starts to turn brown, turn the heat down!
If you’re using meat, toss that back in the pan with two cups of broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Add your peppers, zucchini, cauliflower and chard stems. Meanwhile, your chickpeas should be tender; add them as well and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, stir and loosely cover. That’s gonna hang out for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, chiffonade your chard leaves into long strips and add to the pot. As that’s cooking, use the remaining broth to prepare your couscous following the directions on the package or, if you are like me and buy it at a dusty old spice shop in ziplock bags without directions, use the universal ratio of 1 cup of couscous to 1 Â¼ cups broth, cover tightly and let stand for 5-10 minutes. I like to toss some sliced almonds and/or golden raisins into my couscous but it’s delicious either way. Plate some cous in a dish, top with a big ladle full of stew and enjoy!