Catalan Chickpea & Chorizo Stew with Spinach

February 2, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . .

The cold weather continues to drive us to make warming soups and stews.  This flavorful stew is easy to make – even when cooking the beans from dried vs. opening cans.  The basis for this stew is sofrito, a savory tomato base used in many Spanish dishes.  It’s also at the foundation of a lot of Caribbean cooking, but it means something very different there.  It makes me think I need to make a great Puerto Rican chicken dish I learned years ago using sofrito . . . but I digress!  This is a beautiful-to-look-at dish as well as tasty.  The original recipe was from a Food & Wine article on Familia Torres, a Catalan wine maker.  Today we served this stew with their Sangre de Toro wine, one of my favorite inexpensive reds – delish!  We loved the Arugula-Mint Salad from Sunday’s dinner so much that we’re having it again.  It’s the perfect, refreshing foil for a rich stew.

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked and drained

1/4 cup EV olive oil

1 onion, small dice

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, reserving 1 cup of the juice

3 soft Spanish chorizo sausages, split lengthwise then sliced in 1/4-inch half moons

1/2 pound baby spinach, tough stems removed

Prepare the chickpeas:  Place soaked beans in a pot with water to cover by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer till done, about 2 hours.  Drain the chickpeas, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water.  Set aside both the cooked beans and the water.  This can be done a day or two ahead of making the stew.

Prepare the stew:  Place the olive oil in a Dutch oven and heat to medium high.  Add the onion, rosemary and the bay leaf and saute, stirring constantly until soft.  Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two until fragrant.  Add the drained tomatoes, bring to a sizzle and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.  Add the 3 cups total liquid (1 cup tomato juice and 2 cups bean cooking liquid), the cooked beans and the chorizo.  Stir to blend, bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  This can also be done a day or two ahead.  The final step is to add the spinach, in 3 batches, stirring after each to blend.  Simmer for about 10 minutes to wilt the spinach, but be careful that it doesn’t disintegrate from overcooking.

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS AND AMOUNTS: The dried chickpeas added up to 5 1/2 cups cooked.  If you want to use canned chickpeas, you will need 3-4 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed.  If using canned, I recommend using 2 cups chicken stock in place of the bean cooking liquid.  Make sure you are using (soft vs. dried) Spanish-style chorizo vs. Mexican.  Spanish is fully cooked and Mexican is fresh.  I used Chicken Chorizo from Trader Joe’s.  The original recipe called for a pound of spinach, but I think this is a lot – use your judgment!

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