It had been a long time since I’d been to the Mile-High City. Sure, I’d stopped in the Denver airport now and then, but not since 2003 had I rolled through the Rocky Mountains near Denver.
This time, I was rolling through Colorado with my two kids in tow on a spring break road trip to Boulder and Denver to visit friends and learn how to ski. Although my Boulder hosts were foodies to the max (oh hai, @minormakes! Beware: If you cook amazing food for me, I might make you start an Instagram account), I didn’t do much chopping myself until I got to Denver. One of my Mizzou friends, Emily Dulcan, just moved there to be with her boyfriend, Ryan, and the three of us collaborated on this chickpea stew late one night last week.
Emily, a journalist-turned-marketer, gets all the credit for teaching me how to turn newspaper-and-coffee weekend mornings into an all-day affair, but she was also an early influence on my curiosity about vegetarianism and healthy cooking. I’m pretty sure I’d never cooked tofu until we met way back when, and I’d certainly never had French press coffee.
She’s still cooking mostly vegetarian meals, and ahead of our visit to her house, she dug into her copy of “Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian: More Than 650 Meatless Recipes from Around the World” to find this chickpea stew. The original recipe calls for zucchini instead of spinach, but Emily knows how to cook on the fly. (Jaffrey’s OG dish has saffron threads, which I don’t think we used last week and I wouldn’t use if I were making this dish again at home. It’s so flavorful on its own that it seems like a waste of saffron.)
You could change up many elements of this dish, including using canned chickpeas if you’re in a hurry. In her infinite wisdom, Emily started soaking dried chickpeas before we’d even arrived, and they easily cooked up with the rest of the vegetables. If you haven’t soaked them for more than 12 hours, though, you might have to cook them first.
What are you making for Meatless Mondays these days? What do you like to cook when you have friends visit from out of town? Let me know in the comments or at email@example.com. You can also post your photos on Instagram with #Austin360Cooks in the caption. We often feature reader photos, tips and recipes in the print food section and here on Austin360.com.
Chickpea Stew with Six Vegetables
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, liquid reserved
1 (28-oz.) can plum tomatoes, finely chopped, liquid reserved
2 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 to 6 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
5 to 6 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ginger powder
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch thick pieces
3 small carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb. spinach, washed and stems removed, if desired
Put the oil in a large pot and place over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir and fry for 5 minutes, or until it begins to brown around the edges. Add in the garlic and stir for about 1 minute, or until it turns golden.
Now add the chickpeas, 1 1/4 cups reserved cooking liquid, the tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, cilantro, salt, cumin, turmeric, ginger, saffron and cayenne. Measure the reserved tomato liquid and add enough water to make 2 1/2 cups of liquid in total. Add to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes.
Add the sweet potato and carrots. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat again, and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add the spinach, bring to a boil once again, and then serve.
— From Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey (Clarkson Potter, 1999)