Chickpea Stew

This chickpea stew—vaguely based on a similar one I had in Spain—has become a staple in our house. (I promise an update on those fresh chickpeas soon, but first, a stew to go with the rainy, dreary weather.) It’s cheap, flavorful, and, if you make it in the pressure cooker, surprisingly fast. It’s definitely intended to be a kitchen pantry kind of dish, so substitute/add other ingredients as you see fit.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew (in the pressure cooker)

(All amounts are approximate.)

1 1/2 c. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (if using canned or previously cooked, you’ll need 2–3 cups)
2 T or so olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4–6 cloves garlic, cut into hunks
2 T paprika (or less of a more flavorful smoked Spanish paprika)
about 1 c. of chopped parsley, divided into two
10 whole peppercorns
1/2 t. dried thyme, or 1 T fresh
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 pt jar canned tomatoes and their juice (if using store-bought, use 15 oz)
6 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1–2 bunches spinach, to taste
1/2 a preserved lemon, or to taste, chopped

1) Using your pressure cooker as a cooking pot, start sauteing the onion in the oil. Meanwhile, grind the garlic, salt, half the parsley, and the paprika into a paste in a mortar and pestle, like this:

If you’ve never done this before, here’s a tip: start by putting the salt on the garlic. It creates additional grit to help break down the garlic.

2) Stir the paste, peppercorns, pepper flakes, and thyme into the onions. Cook one minute. (If you’re adding additional vegetables, like carrots or celery, you should add them now, too.)

3) Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, and stock. Screw on the lid, lock it, and bring the pressure cooker up to pressure. Cook for 12 minutes at pressure. (For a refresher on pressure cooker basics, see this post.) Let the pressure drop of its own accord.

4) Are the chickpeas done? If not, bring it up to pressure again and cook for a couple of minutes more. Otherwise go on to the next step.

5) Add the spinach, torn into pieces as big or as small as you like them. Cook until it’s wilted. If there’s too much liquid and you don’t mind limp spinach, cook more; if it’s on the dry side, add more stock.

6) Freshen it up with the preserved lemon and the parsley and serve.

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