I can tell you that the best way to enjoy a steaming bowl of this spiced stew is cosied up on the sofa in my pyjamas and woolly socks. The winter-warming spices add a touch of smoky heat to the chickpeas, arguably the most comforting of all pulses, in a rich tomato and spinach sauce. I’ve been known to have the leftovers for breakfast on top of wholegrain toast with some slices of avocado, but it also freezes beautifully for a meal another day.
Chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are a great source of protein and fibre, as well as calcium, iron, folate and magnesium. With a
low glycemic index chickpeas are broken down more slowly by your digestive system, leaving you fuller for longer and making them particularly good for keeping your blood glucose levels on a nice even plateau.
If you do use tinned chickpeas rather than dried, just be aware that sometimes there is a high sodium content along with other preservatives, so it’s worth having a quick look at the back of the label first. If you buy them dried then I would recommend soaking the chickpeas in water overnight, not only do they cook faster but it also helps to increase the minerals and vitamins available for absorption. Phytic acid is naturally present in legumes, nuts and grains, and binds with some of the minerals and vitamins so that the body isn’t able to absorb them as readily. Soaking them in water overnight can breakdown the phytic acid, increasing the bioavailability of nutrients ready to be absorbed by your digestive system.
Spiced chickpea and spinach stew
1 ½ brown onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ancho chilli powder or cayenne powder
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
3 x drained tin of chickpeas (or 720g cooked chickpeas/ 4 1/3 cups)
1 bag spinach (283g) or 5 handfuls
1 lemon, juiced
Sweat down the onion and garlic with a little olive oil on a medium heat, until it becomes a little translucent. Add the cumin, paprika and chilli powder and cook a little bit longer. Add the tinned tomatoes and chickpeas, and slowly simmer until you are ready to serve, whether that’s right now or in a few hours time. Add the spinach and lemon juice when you are nearly ready to eat, it will look like it is a lot but it will wilt down in size. Season to taste and serve.
Eat alone or serve with quinoa or brown rice and more vegetables if you like. I sometimes add squash or sweet potato in to the pot too, it almost disintegrates into the rich tomato sauce giving mouthfuls of sweet hits.