chickpea and preserved lemon stew from a modern way to eat

chickpea and preserved lemon stew//wanderaven

Chickpea and Preserved Lemon Stew from A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones

Truth be told, I didn't really know about Anna Jones before Jamie Oliver told me about her. But in the process I discovered that I do know some of her work with Oliver, Ottolenghi, and other substantial cooks from the United Kingdom. She was an early student at Oliver's Fifteen and is also a food stylist.

A Modern Way to Eat is "200+ satisfying vegetarian recipes (that will make you feel amazing)." A few weeks ago I made Mourad's preserved lemons, and they were ready just in perfect timing for Jones' delicious springy stew.

Chickpea and Preserved Lemon Stew 

by Anna Jones

serves 4

olive oil

1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (15 ounce/400 gram) can chopped tomatoes

1 (15 ounce/400 gram) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 vegetable stock cube, or 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder

1 stick cinnamon

1 preserved lemon, halved, seeds removed

a handful of raisins

1/2 cup/100 grams Israeli couscous

a small bunch of fresh parsley, leaves picked and chopped

To Serve

a good pinch of saffron strands

4 tablespoons yogurt of your choice

1/2 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped super fine

4 handfuls arugula

a small handful of toasted pine nuts

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat then add the onion, carrot, garlic, and good pinch of sea salt. Cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and sweet.
  2. Next, add the tomatoes and chickpeas. Fill both cans with water and add to the pan too. Add the stock cube, cinnamon stick, preserved lemon halves, and raisins. Season with salt and pepper and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the tomato broth has thickened slightly and tastes wonderfully full and fragrant. 
  3. Add the couscous and cook for another 10 minutes, making sure you add a little extra water here if necessary. I like a little more of a soup than a stew, so I usually add another can of water.
  4. Meanwhile, put the saffron into a bowl with a small splash of boiling water and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Then add the yogurt, garlic, and pinch of salt and  mix well. 
  5. After 10 minutes, the couscous should be cooked while still keeping a little chewy bite. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed, stir in the parsley, and then scoop out the preserved lemons halves. Ladle your stew into bowls. Top with a crown of arugula, a good spoonful of saffron yogurt, and a pile of toasted pine nuts. 

Though on some recipes, one might be inclined to consider the parts labeled "to serve" as more of a suggestion than an absolute necessity, I would advise you not to approach Jones' recipes this way. As made clear through the cookbook, Jones structures her recipes very much on building and developing every element to create a full flavored creation. This recipe is a fine representation of how she does this. Though I suppose the soup would probably be okay if you stopped with just the main body of ingredients, it is absolutely the topping of arugula, saffron yogurt (I used a full fat plain greek yogurt here), and pine nuts that brings this soup/stew together so deliciously. The yogurt is a creamy balance to the astringent tomatoes, the arugula a spicy bite to compliment the sweetness of the raisins, the pine nuts a textural balance to the soft veggies and chickpeas. 

Jones includes several charts in the book to illustrate this architecture of her cooking. There's a very basic chart of how she puts together all of her recipes, but then further charts on particular types of recipes, such as "1 Soup: 1,000 Variations" which has the columns: "Create the Base Layer" + "Choose an Herb" + "Choose a Spice" + "Choose the Main Body of Your Soup" + "Choose a Back-Up Flavor" + "How to Make It More Substantial" + "How Will You Finish Your Soup?" These charts are inspirational but the recipes will make you want to make them first, before you even start exploring your own variations. 

This is a vegetarian cookbook, with dairy alternatives and many excellent gluten-free not just variations but recipes that appear to be substantially intended to be that way (not just "substitute gluten-free flour here"). My next recipe to try in the book will likely be Cardamom and Carrot Cakes with Maple Icing (and if I do, I'll try to include the recipe and a review on the blog).   

I'm finding this cookbook an inspirational vegetarian addition to the canon. Jones has a substantial history and experience behind her for creating recipes that look exciting and trustworthy. 

Please note that the recipe I've included above is directly from the book and is being published here about a week before the book's publication in the United States. There's always a possibility of last minute editorial changes before the final publication.

*Advanced copy provided by Ten Speed Press/Random House.