Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gypsy Stew

450g chickpeas, or white beans, or a mixture of both soaked overnight, or 2X400g tins of chickpeas or beans
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 Garlic cloves. Peeled but left whole
2 onions, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, grated
1tsp sweet, non-smoked paprika
Pinch of hot paprika
300g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 bay leaf
1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock
300g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into 2 inch pieces
200g green beans, topped and tailed, and cut into 1 inch lengths
4 conference pears, peeled, cored and chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2Tbsp almonds, roasted
2tbsp white wine vinegar
Pinch of saffron strands, crumbled and steeped in hot water for 10 min
A few fresh mint leaves chopped

Begin by draining the chickpeas or beans, placing them in a large pot, and covering them with water. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer and cooking for about an hour until they are tender. You may leave this step out all together if you are using canned pulses.
Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the garlic and fry until golden. Remove the garlic and set aside.
Next, using the same oil, fry the onions and red pepper until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook until reduced before adding the paprika.
Drain the chickpeas or beans and add the onion mixture, the potatoes, bay leaf and stock to the pot. Simmer for about 10 min, then add the pumpkin, beans and pears, and continue to cook until everything is tender.
While the vegetables are cooking pound the reserved garlic, 1tsp salt, and the almonds together with a mortar and pestle. Add the vinegar and saffron and work to a paste.
Once the vegetables are ready, stir in the paste, season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle over a little chopped mint.

To grate the tomatoes, cut in half through the equator, and then use a box cheese grater. The skin stays intact, which helps to protect your fingers, and the flesh grates.

Last one in my trio of recipes from The Real Taste of Spain, and yes, it’s another winner. I have started to use a three recipe test for all of my new books. If all three are good, it’s a favorite book. If it gets two out of three, it can still be respectable. One out of three might get a fourth try if the good one was amazing, but I think you can get a good idea of the book overall by making three recipes from it (obviously if it’s a good book, I’ll keep trying new things from it.). It’s helpful because I can pick a recipe from a book like this, and feel confident that it will come out well, even if I’ve never made it before.

This book rocks, and this tip about grating tomatoes rocks too. It so totally works. The skins just stay whole, even though the rest of it grates with no problem. It keeps you from accidentally grating your fingers, which is good too.

This recipe was really interesting. The pears are really surprising at first, but they add such a nice sweetness, after the first initial surprise, they blend in really nicely. I was also intrigued by the almond/salt/garlic/saffron paste. That’s a new one on me. I have to say that when I make this again (and I believe that I will), I would probably use ground almonds instead, because almonds are no fun to have to grind in a mortar and pestle. It was a bit of a pain.

Other then that, I would not change a thing. I loved it. I made a loaf of bread to go with it, which isn’t strictly necessary, but I thought it added a nice touch. I’ve made a lo of vegetable stews, and often times they come out a little dull, definitely NOT this time.

Good stuff, try it.

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