This dish, from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, ranks as one of the most delicious stews I’ve ever made. Every bit of it disappeared from our bowls with unanimous approval. It was involved, but not difficult, and while I made my chickpeas from dried, canned may be used. I made a big pot of chickpeas and divided them between this recipe and a Mark Bittman bowl of chickpeas, their broth, homemade bread crumbs, garlic, and toasted almonds. Also delicious.
I didn’t stray far from the original recipe so I could get a feel for the dish, and I won’t next time, either. There are three parts to this dish: the stew, the Romesco sauce, and the picada. No major orchestration required as far as timing, just the usual organized prep, then proceed.
The recipe is written to serve four. I thought I’d make it into five servings and send someone off with lunch the next day, but it turns out it really is four. At least, if it is a main dish for hungry vegetarians!
Potato and Chickpea Stew
1 pound waxy-fleshed potatoes*
3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 generous pinches saffron
2 large red bell peppers, diced
1 large yellow or red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch wide strips
1 heaping tsp sweet paprika
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup medium-dry sherry
2 cups crushed tomatoes with juice
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or two 15-oz cans, rinsed)
3 cups chickpea broth, stock, or water
1 1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
chopped parsley for garnish
*If using fingerling potatoes, halve them lengthwise. Large round potatoes can be cut into thick rounds or quartered.
Warm the oil in a wide pot with the onion, garlic, saffron, peppers, and potatoes. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring gently every now and then, until the potatoes are tender-firm, about 25 min. Add the paprika, parsley, and red pepper flakes, and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until the juices are thick and syrupy, about 12 minuntes.
Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and broth, stock or water to cover. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper; cover and cook over low heat until the potatoes are completely tender, about 20 min. If the stew is soupy and you plan to serve it right away, stir in 1/4 cup picada (or more if necessary) to thicken it. If you don’t plan to serve the stew for 1 hour or more, it may not need the bread crumbs since it will thicken as it stands. Serve in soup plates with any additional picada sprinkled over the top along with the extra parsley. Add a spoonful of the Romesco sauce to each bowl and pass the rest.
|Soaked and cooked chickpeas; I also spent a quick minute rolling them between a towel to remove the skins.
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
1/4 cup almonds, roasted
1/4 cup hazelnuts, roasted and peeled
1 slice country-style white bread
olive oil for frying
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp ground red chile or red pepper flakes
4 small plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
This Catalan sauce is utterly delicious served with chickpeas, roasted potatoes, or grilled vegetables.
To roast the peppers, place them under a broiler or over a gas flame until the skins are charred. Put them in a bowl, cover with a plate, and set aside for 15 min. Peel and seed the peppers.
Roast the nuts in a 350°F oven for 7 to 10 min., or until they smell toasty. Let them cool slightly, and then rub the hazelnuts between the folds of a towel to remove loose skins. (The almonds don’t need peeling.)
Fry the bread in a little olive oil until golden and crisp. When the bread is cool, grind it with the nuts and garlic in a food processor or a mortar until fairly fine. Add everything else but the vinegar and oil and process or work with the pestle until smooth. With the machine running, or your arm working if you’re using a mortar and pestle, gradually pour in the vinegar, then the oil. Taste to make sure the sauce has enough salt and plenty of piquancy
|The excitement of roasting a pepper over the stove’s flame!
Deborah’s picada, which I didn’t use because the stew looked just the way we’d like it, is as follows:
Toast 1/4 cup peeled almonds until pale gold. Slowly fry one slice of white country-style bread in 2T olive oil until golden on both sides. Grind bread, almonds, 2 cloves of garlic, and a pinch of salt in a food processor to a crumbly paste.