Earlier this year, The New York Times Food Section put out a Sunday supplement containing one-dish/one-sheet/one-pot meals to encourage us to cook. (See the Feb. 6 edition.)
Among the many wonderful and simple dishes offered, the supplement contained a recipe by Alison Roman for a chickpea coconut stew that was the darling of the internet for a time — it even had its own hashtag!
I made #thestew during our quarantine, and it had the benefit of comprising mostly shelf-stable ingredients and enabled creativity with the addition of different vegetables, pending what my produce drawer could provide.
The dish is vegan, but meat or fish could be added, if desired. Ours ended up being a dairy dish because we topped the stew with a garnish of yogurt.
Initially, I used Swiss chard, but next time I will use kale or collard greens; the slight sweetness of the stew would be nicely complemented by the bitterness of the hardier greens. Chard worked fine but was a bit mild, and I found myself wanting more of a contrast.
To serve, refrying the chickpeas is a semi-pain-in-the-neck step, but it gives them a crispness and delivers a variety of textures to the meal that is quite sublime.
We enjoyed this with a citrus-dressed green salad tossed with clementines, pumpkin seeds, and raw beets, as well as some toasted pita. It would also be wonderful with naan or any type of lavash-style bread, or over rice, quinoa, groats, or barley.
The following is, basically, the Times’ recipe with a few of my own additions and suggestions.
Spiced Chickpea Coconut #TheStew
¼ cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2-inch piece of ginger, grated
1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
2 cans chickpeas (15 ounces each), drained and rinsed
2 cans coconut milk (15 ounces each)
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, sliced
1 bunch kale or collard greens, tough stems removed, and cut in ribbons
Garnishes: reserved chickpeas, Greek yogurt sprinkled with turmeric, best-quality drizzling olive oil, chopped fresh mint or cilantro.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric and red pepper flakes. When the spices are fragrant and the onions slightly softened, add the chickpeas and cook until well coated and flavored, about 5 minutes.
Scrape the bottom of the pot, remove 1 cup of chickpeas for garnishing and, using a potato masher, crush some of the remaining chickpeas in the pot (this helps thicken the stew).
Add the sweet potatoes and carrots, scrape the bottom again, and mix to coat.
Add the coconut milk and stock; stir, bring it to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the stew is too thin for your taste, remove the cover and allow it to simmer another 10 minutes; this will cook off some of the liquid and thicken it.
Add the greens, stir, cover and cook for about 12 minutes until the greens are done. Note: Kale and collards take longer too cook; if you use chard or spinach it will be done in 5-7 minutes. Check for seasoning, salt if needed, and serve.
Optional step: While the greens cook, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. When hot, add the reserved chickpeas and cook until sizzling and crisp, stirring frequently. Drain and serve with other garnishes.
Colorful Citrus Salad
The diversity of colors and textures in this simple salad make it appealing from both a visual and a taste standpoint. This version goes light on the dressing; if you prefer a more heavily-dressed salad, double the quantities in the dressing recipe below.
1 head lettuce, rinsed, spun and torn into small pieces (or 1 package baby lettuces)
1 large beet, peeled and diced
2 clementines, peeled and sectioned
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
Juice of 1 lime or lemon (or 1 tablespoon grapefruit or orange juice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Generous sprinkling of pepper
½ teaspoon honey
Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.
Place all the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with dressing, toss and serve immediately.
Keri White is a Philadelphia-area food writer.