Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spicy and Colorful Stew

I'm trying to use up some things in the cupboard and freezer. So this afternoon I started defrosting a gallon bag of cooked garbanzo beans, which had been prepared that far and stashed away some months ago as the first step in using up a big bag of the legumes that had been acquired "way back."
There are usually a few boxes of frozen spinach around, so I set one of those out, and sat down at the computer to search online for recipes that would use both items. The first recipe I found was a Spanish stew with North African influence, but I scrolled on down the search results to an Indian dish, which I noted would also use up the lime I've had around for a couple of weeks.

Coriander and cumin were sautéed in oil along with onion and garlic.

Lucky me, I had just bought the tomatoes this week. Of course, the dish could be made with canned garbanzos, fresh tomatoes, etc. I don't know about canned spinach, sounds nasty. Frozen spinach, by the way, has been found to retain more nutrients than bunches of fresh spinach, as it is processed so quickly in our modern world, while fresh spinach often sits around for days losing vitamins. If you are going to cook it anyway, you might as well use the frozen and convenient product.

One recipe said to use lime OR tamarind juice. I don't know anything about tamarinds.

You can see that the spinach also was not completely defrosted when I added it along with the tomatoes, after the onion and garlic had browned.

As soon as I put those two items in, it came back to me that cast iron + greens + tomatoes can have a color-deadening chemical effect, so I quickly spooned the mix into a stainless steel kettle. After about 10 minutes of simmering I added the garbanzos and remaining seasonings, and simmered the lot until the beans were soft and had absorbed some flavor. (Canned garbanzos would likely have already been more salty than my frozen ones were.)

Spicy Indian Chickpea and Spinach Stew

About 10 cups of cooked garbanzo beans
1 large yellow onion, chopped
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach
3 cloves garlic, diced
About 1/4 cup oil
1 large can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons mild chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons sugar

This recipe made about 3 quarts of stew, plenty to freeze and some to eat later in the week. I can see it being the basis for elaborations and extensions into pots of soup as well. One could add lamb or chicken, more tomatoes or spinach, other vegetables, etc., and perhaps purée a portion to add back in.

Lucky again, I had some fresh coriander, a.k.a. cilantro, in the fridge, to pretty things up, as the spinach, of course, was no longer bright. This is a vegan dish that fits right in with this season of the church, The Apostles Fast, when we abstain from animal products generally. The flavor was a nicely complex balance of the various spices with just the slightest heat. A bowlful of this dish would be good with some chewy bread for dipping--but that was something not to be found in the house!


Karen @ Pieces of Contentment said...

It looks wonderful! I've just printed it out to try sometime. Thanks for the tip on frozen spinach too!

Karen @ Pieces of Contentment said...

Just noticed the spinach isn't listed in your ingredients.....but is clearly there.

GretchenJoanna said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Karen! I've now fixed it.

Anna@stuffedveggies said...

This looks delicious! I might just have to make it sometime soon : )