Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chick Pea and Artichoke Heart Stew

Since school started my weekday cooking time has been severely cut down. To compensate, I've been making a double recipe of a different soup or stew every weekend since the beginning of September. The soup gets better and better as the week goes on, and I don't have to worry about cooking dinner when I get home from cross country practice. A nice bowl of soup with a few slices of bread makes a perfect weeknight meal with very little clean up, which is key when the kids need baths, stories, etc...

Chick Pea and Artichoke Heart Stew is one of my (and my wife's) favorites. This is another one of those recipes that was passed my way by my friend John, who got it from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook. Brimming with chick peas, chunks of potato, and artichoke hearts, this is definitely hearty enough to make a meal. Turmeric gives it a wonderful golden color, and combined with sweet paprika, a deep, earthy taste. A sprig of fresh rosemary and some fresh sage round out the aroma of this stew quite nicely. It's actually quick enough to make on a weeknight, as it only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, but as with most soups and stews, if you take the time to make it ahead, the flavors have time to meld so the soup tastes even better when reheated. I suggest doubling the recipe so you have plenty of leftovers.

The recipe calls for water or stock, but I prefer the extra flavor you get when you start with stock. I'll still use store bought stock in a pinch, but when I have the time, I like to make my own. There are many advantages to doing this. Here's three: First, it's cheaper than buying ready made, second, you can control the amount of salt (since most prepared stock is absolutely loaded with sodium, even the low sodium varieties), and third, it tastes significantly better. What else do you want? I've included a recipe for a quick vegetable stock that is a slightly modified version of a stock recipe from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson, creator of the excellent food blog 101 Cookbooks.
______________________________

Vegetable stock can be complex or relatively simple. Basically all you need is some aromatic vegetables, some fresh herbs, and some water. This stock is at the very simple end of the spectrum. The only required ingredients are onion, garlic, celery, thyme, water, and salt. In this version I've added some fresh parsley and carrot, but they are by no means required. Start by chopping the vegetables into large chunks and heating a small amount of olive oil in a large pot.

Dump all the vegetables in the pot and stir them around. Let them sit for a minute or two and stir them again, keep doing this until the vegetables look like they are starting to soften.

Once the vegetables are starting to soften, let them sit in the pan without stirring them for about 5 minutes or so. The goal here is to develop some brown bits (kind of faux vegetable fond) on the bottom of the pan that you can scrape up when you add the water. These caramelized bits will give the stock a deeper flavor in addition to a darker color. Once you have some nice brown bits, add the water and salt.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for one hour.

Strain the stock, pressing down on the vegetables to extract as much fluid as possible. Since this is a meatless stock the only fat is from the olive oil, so you don't have to do any skimming or other type of fat removal. The stock can be used immediately, stored in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen.

______________________________

The making of this stew goes quick, so prepping all the ingredients in advance is a good idea. One of the ingredients is pureed squash, and the recipe suggests using a jar of squash baby food which is what I have done every time I have made this recipe. It seems easier to me than cooking and pureeing just 1/2 cup of squash or sweet potato. When you're ready to start, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until it shimmers, add the onion and garlic and saute until soft.

While the onions and garlic are cooking, bring the water or stock to a simmer. Add the turmeric and paprika to the softened onions.

Add the potatoes, rosemary, sage and then the simmering water or stock.

Bring the stew to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 12 minutes or so. At this point you remove the rosemary sprig, add all the rest of the ingredients (pureed squash, chick peas, artichoke hearts), taste, and season with salt and pepper. Return the soup to a simmer and allow the flavors to mingle for a few minutes and you're done.

______________________________

Vegetable Stock (adapted from Super Natural Cooking)
About 1 hour and 30 minutes - makes approximately 8 cups
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large onions, cut into eighths
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped into large pieces
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons of table salt (can be reduced or increased to taste)
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into large pieces (optional)
  • a handful of fresh parsley (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat until it shimmers
  2. Add all the vegetables and herbs to the pot and stir
  3. Stir every minute or so until the vegetables start to soften, about 6 minutes total
  4. Let the vegetables sit without stirring until brown bits begin to form on the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes
  5. Add the water and salt, stir and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any brown bits
  6. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for one hour
  7. Strain the stock pressing down on the vegetables in order to remove as much liquid as possible
______________________________

Chick Pea and Artichoke Heart Stew (from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home)
About 30 minutes - serves 4 to 6
  • 4 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 4 medium waxy skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 5 leaves fresh sage, minced
  • 4.5 ounce jar pureed squash baby food or 1/2 cup pureed winter squash or sweet potato
  • 3 cups drained cooked chick peas (two 15 ounce cans)
  • 1 1/2 cups drained quartered artichoke hearts (one 14 ounce can)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges (optional)
  • grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Bring the water or vegetable stock to a simmer
  2. Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until soft, about 6 to 8 minutes
  3. Stir in the turmeric and paprika, saute for 1 minute
  4. Add the potatoes, rosemary, sage, and water/stock
  5. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes
  6. Stir in the pureed squash, add the chick peas and artichoke hearts, remove the rosemary
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  8. Return the stew to a simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld
  9. Serve with lemon wedges and top with grated cheese if you wish

2 comments:

shavedicesundays said...

Hi, I came to your blog via foodgawker. The word artichoke in your caption caught my attention, and now I have a new recipe to use in order to use up that gigantic jar of artichoke hearts I got from Costco that I got when my stomach was quite empty. Thank you for the inspiration.

MC and Dan said...

I tried this recipe for a Sunday afternoon meal. It was delicious. I doubled the recipe so I could freeze half and use later. I love the combination of spices.. it almost tastes like an Indian soup. Thanks!