Thursday 21 July 2011

MLLA Chickpea, potato and tomato stew

Our heater broke down this week.  Our house is well insulated but we missed our heating.  We plugged in a cheap little blower heater.  It blew a fuse.  I was so glad when our heater was repaired - though we could very well do without the unexpected expense just before we head off on holidays.  However there are other ways to keep out the cold - stews, bread and chocolate.  They have all been present in the kitchen this week.  I blame the heater!

 Feeling time poor recently has made me turn to large dishes of lasagne, moussaka or rice bakes and big pots of stew.  The sort of dishes that can see you through the good part of a week without needing to do much in the kitchen apart from preparing a fussy toddler's meals (sigh)!  Again and again I kept looking longingly at Ricki's Chickpea, Potato and Tomato Stew.  It didn't let me down.

There are some food bloggers I love to read, not just for the witty repartee or the breathtaking photos but for the recipes that speak my language.  Ricki of Diet Dessert and Dogs is one of these.  My bookmarks are full of her recipes.  She inspires and intrigues with her innovative take on flavours at the same time that she creating amazing healthy alternatives to her favourite traditional dishes.

I am grateful to Ricki in particular for this stew.  It is a similar sort of dish to one that I used to make often.  I made it too often and left it behind.  The reunion has been a happy one.  I have changed.  Now I make my own stock.  I find it hard to cook without my favourite spice, smoked paprika.  I also loved the addition of mustard and would add fresh sage if I had any.  Not all has changed.  I still love more vegetables than most recipes suggest.  Serendipity had a hand in it too.  I added some lentils when there was a bit too much stock added because I measure it by the tubs I use to store it in the freezer.  This is not fancy food.  It is good honest grub that keeps out the cold.  Just what we needed.

Finally I wanted to mention a couple of revisions of recipes I have made this week.  Sylvia and I started to make her favourite Tofu Nuggets.  The fridge yielded no tofu but there was a whole head of cauliflower.  We made cauli nuggets instead.  They were so good I suggested they were better than chips but E shook his head and said, "not quite".  Almost!  I also tried making Olive Oil Bread with 2 tablespoons of whole chia seeds soaked about 10 minutes in 4 tablespoons of water and reduced the olive oil to 2 tablespoons.  The bread was a bit damp so I will experiment further before reporting in more detail.  However both bread and cauli nuggets were a good accompaniment to the stew.

I am sending this stew to Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook for My Legume Love Affair #37.  MLLA July 2011 marks the start of year 4 of this fine event that celebrates recipes using all sorts of beans, legumes, lentils, tofu etc etc.  To celebrate, Susan has a series of interesting guest posts by respected bloggers during July.  She has also started a new event featuring stunning black and white food photography called Black and White Wednesday.  Well worth a visit!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Tofu omelettes from China
This time two years ago: Pudding, Parties and Plate Smashers
This time three years ago: Vegetarian Cassoulet
This time four years ago: Hubert the Hog’s Head

Chickpea, Potato and Tomato Stew
Adapted from Diet, Dessert and Dogs
Serves about 6

1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
2 medium onions, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1 small turnip (swede), peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable stock
8 small potatoes, diced
1 tsp seeded mustard
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
dash each of chilli powder and cinnamon
1 large dessertspoon of tahini
1/2 cup green lentils dried
fresh parsley

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes, stirring often.  Add the vegetables and garlic.  In an ideal world, cook for another 5 or so minutes (I had to get to other dishes and just turned off the heat until I was ready to resume).

Add remaining ingredients except tahini, bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes and lentils are cooked (ie soft).  Gently stir in tahini when cooked to give a slightly creamy texture.  Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.  This stew is hearty enough to eat without accompaniments but is great with bread and would be lovely with rice or other cooked grains.

Variations: May 2012 - made this again but had no turnip so I add a large handful of chopped green beans with the vegies, used puy lentils instead of green lentils, a 700ml jar of passata instead of the tins of tomatoes, and 1tsp liquid smoke instead of the smoked paprika, plus I added a little french lavender salt.  Fantastic!

On the Stereo:
Songs of an Impotent Troubadour: Tiny Tim and Current 93


  1. Oh Johanna, this is exactly what I need but have been too befuddled to take the time to cook lately! Instead, I've been eating lots of microwaved veggies tossed in lots and lots of mustard *hangs food blogger head in shame*

    I'm absolutely fascinated by the cauliflower nuggets, too! Wish your hotel room had an oven so I could invited myself over instead of meeting you for coffee ;)

  2. I made Ricki's stew once, and definitely plan on returning to it when I need to keep the cold out. Today, however, it's 95 degrees (35C), so there will be no such stew ;)

  3. Oh no I'm sorry to hear that your heater broke Johanna! If it is as cold as it is here then I'd definitely be making soups and stews too and trying to warm up that way :D

  4. this looks great. It makes such a difference having your own stock on hand. Then any simple stew can turn out tasting quite richly layered and sophisticated. Theresa can't lay her hands off smoked paprika either. I have to battle her to ward it off my dishes sometimes ; ) Did you ever try chipotle powder? Similar but with heat...

  5. Oh, the heating ... I feel with you. In the last of the little (oven-less) apartments I lived in, the heating broke shortly after I moved in, and it couldn't be repaired (long story ... It was a very old heating, and it would have been necessary to break up the wall and build heating pipes from the apartment below etc etc), and I was *so cold* ... I survived one winter there, thanks to the electric heater I had bought, and then moved out. :D

    Lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower ... All of these waken the association of Indian veggies curries in me. (I once ate chickpeas in a spicy tomato sauce, with turmeric and cumin, at an Indian restaurant, and it was so fabulous that I could have finished off the whole bowl. :D) But your spices give it a totally different direction. :)

    Smoked paprika ist your favorite spice? And the recipe also called for fresh sage? That's amazing because I haver none of those in my spice shelf so far! (I know smoked paprika, though, and it always makes me think of a traditional Hungarian goulash. ;) Aaaaaaaahhhh, trivial! However, when I looked for it at a food store recently, I found sweet and spicy varieties, and I didn't know which one to buy. Do you have a suggestion for me?)

    Anyway anyway, this looks wonderful, and I love the generous addition of PARSLEY to your dish. Mustard sounds awesome as well, I use it far too little for cooking, usually just as a condiment for my grilled turkey at a BBQ ... I should use it for cooking much more!

  6. This sounds like a wonderful meal. I often make channa masala with chick peas. I definitely make a similar stew, but i tend to garnish mine with lime and cilantro :)

  7. Aw, Johanna, thanks so much for saying such nice things! :D I used to eat that stew all the time and then left it for a couple of decades. ;) But I think I like your version better! I'm going to try it with your spices next time. So glad you liked it. :D

  8. I'm sorry to hear about your heater woes! Although your meals this week sound like they may have made up for it in part :P This stew in particular looks wonderful, and I'm also intrigued by the cauliflower nuggets.

  9. I love that we both made chickpea stews today! Great minds eat alike! And I love the spice blend in this, especially the touch of cinnamon!

  10. A good stew is so comforting and this sounds really good. Must try adding some tahini next time I do something similar. Thank goodness your house is well insulated. Ours isn't and we suffer in the winter even with our heating on.

    Just off to cook up our first potatoes - more comfort food ;-)

  11. So delicious, so comforting and so a 'bookmarked recipe', but I will forgive you since you are submitting it to Susan :D

  12. the stew looks and sounds gppd Johanna!

  13. The Husband and I are kicking up our heels in Melbourne this weekend, leaving our eldest to fend for herself. We have no heating, other than the combustion fires which she managed to let go out and cannot restart them.
    She is one very chilly girl for the next few days!

  14. Eeek, no heater! I hope it's fixed quickly... although your stew looks like it would warm you up very well.

  15. Thanks Hannah - we do have a kitchen but alas probably not the fully stocked kitchen I would need or I would love to cook for you. Though we could probably whip you up some steamed vegies in mustard :-)

    Thanks Sarah - hope you are enjoying the heat

    Thanks Lorraine - fortunately the heater broke down after the worst of our recent cold snap

    Thanks Adam - I agree that home made stock adds depth of flavour - and you can control the saltiness too - I haven't tried chipotle powder - but I have a jar of chipotles in adobo sauce in the fridge that I love though I find it quite hot for me

    Thanks Kath - this place is not too bad for cold - nothing as bad as the place E and I lived in Scotland with inadequate heating - but so much nicer with the heater - smoked paprika is amazing if you can find it - I don't really use other paprikas a lot as I don't find that they add much flavour that I notice - but maybe I need to experiment more as it took me a while to get used to smoked paprika

    Thanks Sharan - this stew has the same comfort factor as channa masala but sometimes I want different spices than the Indian style ones

    Thanks Ricki - all true! hope you enjoy this spice mix - I tend to use it because I don't always have fresh herbs about but I find that dried ones lose their taste too quickly

    Thanks Kari - luckily we got our heater fixed quickly - but it hurt the hip pocket - highly recommend the cauli nuggets - we actually had them with the last bit of stew and some spanakopita that my mum had kindly made for us

    Thanks Joanne - am sure we would be able to sit down and share cooking very companionably because it seems we do share so much in our love of food

    Thanks Choclette - almost left out of the tahini but was glad I didn't

    Thanks Jacqueline - a great bookmarked recipe but yes I try to focus on one event with each post

    Thanks Anh - it was

    thanks Amanda - oh enjoy melbourne - we are heading up to NSW tomorrow - everyone has warned us how cold it is up there - but hopefully there will be no pot belly stoves like our holiday in port fairy last year where the flu feel down - so I am sympathetic to your daughter's plight

    Thanks CityHippyFarmGirl - yes luckily the heater is fixed but warming foods and cups and teas helped when it was broken

  16. Oh, how I know the feeling when the machines of our creature comforts break down. Our A/C was useless for weeks; three repairmen later, it's been fixed just b/4 the worst of our frequent heatwaves. I am very glad to know that all is toasty and cozy in your home now.

    Thanks, Johanna, for your warming MLLA stew

  17. And thank you for the shout-out for Black and White Wednesday. : ) I do hope you can join in someday when you have the time/energy.


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