Kale, Potato and Chickpea Stew

Cooking, for me at least, has always been a social activity. The kitchen has always been the center of our home and where I spend the most time, whether I’m sitting at the table watching helping my mom do the cooking or actually making something myself. There’s always someone in the kitchen making something, and then two or three people helping, commenting, critiquing, praising, screaming, laughing and even sometimes singing alongside.

So it’s only natural that one of my favorite ways to spend an evening is cooking with friends. While dinners or coffee catch-ups are nice, spending a few hours making something together that everyone contributes to and then enjoys (preferably with a bottle or few of wine) can be extremely rewarding — and cheap. Plus, there’s no hassle of picking a restaurant, no waits and your dinner comes out exactly as you wanted.

Last weekend, during a trip home, Nila came over one night to make this kale, potato and chickpea stew. According to Food & Wine, it’s Spanish-influenced, which obviously meant that I leaped at the chance to make it. It’s a cinch to make, which allows for plenty of chatting while preparing. Plus, it’s hearty, filling and warming, exactly what one wants on a rainy, dreary night.

Best of all, if you’re using vegetable broth, it’s a great rich stew for vegetarians and vegans. So many fall/winter stews use meat for heft and richness, but here the potatoes and chickpeas provide plenty of both. It’s a keeper, even if you’re not making it with friends.

Kale, Potato and Chickpea Stew
Adapted from Food & Wine

The original recipe calls for swiss chard, but I couldn’t find any at the grocery store. I’m sure other dark greens could work as well — collard greens or even spinach (it may not require pre-cooking, since spinach is so tender).

– 1 pound kale, tough stems removed, leaves washed well and chopped

– 3 tablespoons olive oil

– 1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes (2 large), peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick

– 1 onion, chopped

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 teaspoon cumin

– 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and dried

– 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable stock

1) Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale and cook for 3 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

2) In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Saute the potatoes and onion, stirring frequently, until the potatoes start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3) Add the kale, chickpeas and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

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