Catalonia Meets Hajdúság in My Kitchen: Chickpea Stew

chickpeat stew

Don’t know about you, but if there’s something I don’t feel like doing when temperatures are in the 30s °C-wise, it’s standing next to a hot stove for hours on end. Just hand me an ice-cold radler instead, will you.

It was scorching lately all right so I reached back to one of my favorite one-pot-wonder recipes, a real fusion dish combining elements of Catalan and Hungarian culinary traditions. My husband and I love this hearty, spicy, soupy chickpea stew with spinach and Debreceni.

Debreceni kolbász (pron. kohl-baahs), or Debreczener (sometimes also referred to as Hungarian wiener), a lightly smoked, beef and pork sausage seasoned with salt, black pepper, paprika powder and garlic distinct of the Hajdúság region, holds the status of Hungarikum.

According to the Act of Hungarian national values, Hungarikum is a collective term indicating a value worthy of distinction and highlighting within a unified system of qualification, classification and registry. In other words, something that is inimitably, uniquely and distinctly Hungarian (you can learn more about the list of Hungarikums here).

I use Dedreceni in this recipe for obvious reasons – national pride for one, and because a good debreceni is hella delicious. In Catalonia I guess a chorizo or botifarra would be the way to go. Cooking the sausages in the same pan you’re going to make the stew in not only saves the tasty juices but also lets you end up with less dirty dishes.

Probably originated in Turkey, nutrient-rich chickpeas, or garbanzo beans were transported throughout the Mediterranean by the Phoenicians. They are a staple in Spanish cuisine, in fact there are few places where they are more popular: garbanzos appear daily in cocidos (one-pot meals) and potajes (thick soups).

Chickpeas are slow food – the dry legumes are soaked in water overnight, then simmered slowly until tender, about three hours. But here’s a shortcut for you: buy the canned variety!

The base of this dish, like many others in Catalonia is a sofrito, a thick sauce made with sautéed onions and tomatoes. Second shortcut: all hail canned passata di pomodoro. I then flavor it with salt, black pepper, bay leaves, rosemary, garlic and a little chili powder to make it appeal to local taste buds even more. Tossed a handful of fresh spinach leaves in there too, because why not.

Let simmer for a few minutes, and it’s ready to eat with a slice of rustic, toasted bread. Hmmm. This dish is a no-fuss no-brainer, the type of quick and easy meal you need when you have neither the time nor the willpower for anything too sophisticated. It is also very rich and tasty, and even better the day after! I can tell a win-win situation when I see one. Now, excuse me while I sit back with that radler.

Chickpeat Stew

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Hearty Catalonian-inspired stew with a Hungarian touch. Serves 4.

Ingredients

300 g package of debreceni, or any other hot dog or sausage type you like

can of chickpeas, drained

2 cups passata di pomodoro

handful of spinach leaves

1 large onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

1 twig of fresh rosemary or ½ tbsp dried

chili powder to taste

1 tbsp sugar

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

olive oil

rustic bread slices, toasted

Directions

  1. Cut sausages in a diamond pattern.
  2. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat, cook sausages until crispy and browned. Take sausages out of pan and set aside.
  3. Sautée onion in the remaining juices from the sausages (add another tbsp of olive oil if needed).
  4. When onion is softened, add garlic, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, chili powder and rosemary. Stir and let sizzle for another minute for spices to release their aroma.
  5. Add passata, sugar and chickpeas. Let simmer for 10 minutes, add spinach and simmer for another 10 min until sauce is somewhat thickened, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve hot with the sausages and a slice of toasted bread on the side. Enjoy!

What are your go-to recipes when you want to whip up something quick yet satisfying?

Love,

Fruzsi

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