This is another bean recipe from the AMA cookbook. It’s interesting in that there are no thickeners. The chickpeas themselves are pureed to turn the dish into a thick stew. The flavors are supposed to be Mediterranean–Spanish maybe. I tried the recipe once a long time ago and found it a bit watery and bland, but Derek liked it. I decided to give it another try.
- 4 tsp. + 1.5 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 4 3/4-inch thick slices of Italian or French bread (about 5 ounces)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cans (19 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 4 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup packed cilantro sprigs
- 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
- 1.5 cups chopped seeded fresh tomatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To make the croutes, stir together the 4 tsp. of olive oil with the cumin in a small bowl. Brush the flavored oil lightly over both sides of the bread slices and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, turning once, until roasted on both sides. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1.5 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the broth and chickpeas and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes to blend the flavors.
- In a blender or food processor, process about half of the chickpea and broth mixture with the cilantro, lemon juice, and lemon peel to make a smooth puree.
- Return the pureed mixture to the pan with the remaining whole chickpeas and reheat gently, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer until just heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately so that the colors remain bright.
- Place the cumin croutes in shallow soup bowls or on rimmed plates and spoon the stew over them.
Per serving: about 453 calories, 13g fat, 69g carbs, 13g fiber, and 18g protein.
The stew came out much better this time. Rather than getting my blender dirty, I moved half the soup to a bowl and used my stick blender to blend it. It worked well, and the stew came out nice and thick–much better than last time. I used dried chickpeas (not canned) and used the cooking liquid rather than some of the vegetable broth. The bread I had was a light German rye bread with a fine crumb, and it wasn’t quite right. It would have been better with a ciabatta style bread that would crisp up more. The stew was nice even without the bread though. The flavor was quite bright (even the next day). It reminded me a little of a Mexican salsa verde, I guess because of all the cilantro, the acid from the lemon juice, and the little bit of cumin flavor. I used canned tomatoes but obviously fresh summer tomatoes would have been better. This dish would also make a nice sauce to serve over rice or maybe pasta.
Although I like this recipe I think it needs a few tweaks to make it a real standout. I’m just not sure what exactly it needs. I feel like it needs a bit of a darker, roasted flavor to balance out the acidity and green flavors. Or maybe a drizzle of cumin or roasted tomato flavored oil over the top? A few thin strips of sun dried tomatoes? Roasted pepitas?
Rating: B (Even though I liked this recipe more than the black bean and sweet potato dish, I can’t quite get myself to give it a B+.)
Update June 2011: I made this for dinner when Ahra and Gil came over and Ahra liked it a lot. Derek wasn’t as excited about it this time though. He was totally uninterested in the leftovers. I felt the same as last time.