Simple and delicious Spanish-style chickpea and red pepper stew
This speedy and simple chickpea and red pepper stew full of flavour, is a great vegan stew which I often make at home when I am running low on the vegetable front (as it is mainly based on staple ingredients) or I have vegetables which need using up.
I love the combination of red peppers and chickpeas as together with paprika, it really gives a Spanish vibe to this stew. Do not feel scared however, to substitute the peppers for different vegetables you may have at home. Aubergines (eggplant) and courgettes (zucchini) are other great vegetables to use and I often use a mix of these, it makes this dish like a bit like a mixture between a ratatouille and a stew!
If you want to add animal protein to the stew this works great too, I often add chicken thigh if I have this at home as I find it works really well.
The main source of protein for this stew (unless you add additional animal protein) comes from the chickpeas.
Pulses, such as chickpeas, are a great way to add protein, phytonutrients and fibre to a meal and they really are super versatile and can be used in soups, stews, for making dips, roasted as a snack or even in baking (aquafaba, for example, is the liquid you find in the cans of chickpeas and can be used instead of eggs in baking).
Pulses are also super cheap (specially if you buy them dried) and they are a great way to create cost effective and nutritious meals.
Although pulses are not complete proteins, meaning they do not contain all nine essential amino acids in comparison to for example eggs and meat sources of proteins, you can still achieve a full complement of amino acids when paired with grains such as for example rice.
So another reason to cook rice and peas!
If using dried pulses, it is important to remember that most types of pulses do require soaking (some lentils do not require this) and proper cooking to reduce the lectin content and impurities. Lectins are naturally occurring proteins found in plants, which act as a protective barrier when plants grow but can be difficult for humans to digest.
Adding a little bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to the cooking water is also a good tip which helps soften the pulses and lower the lectins further.
Simple Spanish-style chickpea and red pepper stew
Approximately 4 serves
2 onions roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped
2 celery sticks finely sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 cans of chopped tomatoes (use 1 instead if you want it to be more of a ratatouille texture)
2 tsp tomato puree
2 large red peppers roughly chopped
1/2 organic stock cube (vegan or chicken)
1/2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp paprika (sweet or picante if you want it hot)
a pinch of cayenne pepper (add more or less depending on how spicy you want the stew)
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1/2 jar (approximately 100 g) of black olives
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 bunch of parsley or basil to serve
Crumbed feta cheese (optional, leave out if you want it vegan)
Additional extras: 600 g of Chicken thigh.
(Chorizo sausage is another tasty option which also adds to the Spanish flavours. Do make sure to look out for high quality, high meat content ones.)
Heat the olive oil in a pot on a medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic and celery and fry until soft for approximately 5 minutes.
Add the chopped rosemary and thyme and fry for an additional 30 seconds. (If you are doing a meat version then first add the chicken at this stage and seal off for around 5-10 minutes before adding the herbs).
Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, then stir and add the red peppers and the stock.
Add the dried spices and leave to simmer on a low heat with a lid on for around 20 minutes until the peppers are starting to soften.
Add the canned chickpeas and olives and leave to simmer without a lid for another 10-15 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
When ready to serve add the fresh herbs.
This stew tastes great served with some brown rice or quinoa.
I also like to serve it with my harissa and lemon yoghurt sauce (please see details below)
Harissa and lemon yoghurt sauce
2 dl greek yoghurt (or vegan plain yoghurt)
1-2 tsp harissa (depending how hot you want it)
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and serve.