My friend Nate has what I call a kitchen ministry. He gathers people around his table and showers them with affection and food on almost any night of the week. More than once I have gotten a “dp?” text message (meaning “dinner party”) that has pulled me out of the grooves my routine and into his kitchen just a few blocks away. It’s warm in there. The walls are painted reddish orange. And we always say grace before we eat. People depart transformed.
If there are more people than soup spoons, 15 was the count one night, Nate hands out measuring spoons as substitutes. I gave him a shoebox full of extra silverware for Christmas but I am pretty sure this box sits under his bed. He admits he likes the spontaneous creativity that comes with solving the problem of too many friends and too few spoons.
This stew reminds me of a dp at Nate’s house. A lot is crammed in and it exudes warmth. It’s from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.” I’ve left out a few fancy things below such as a bread crumb picada thickener and a romesco sauce to add zest. You don’t really need them, and if you think you do, you should just go out and buy the cookbook because it is full of great recipes.
This makes a lot of stew. You’ll be eating it all week. I packed up a container and delivered it to Nate who ate it as a 4 p.m. snack. “Delicious,” he said. “I love the colors.”
I think you will, too. And don’t forget to say grace.
Potato and Chickpea Stew
1 lb fingerling potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 generous pinches saffron
2 large red bell peppers, finely diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup cooking sherry
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, plus juice
2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed
3 cups water
1-1/2 tesaspoons salt
Freshly milled pepper
Scrub fingerling potatoes, halve them lengthwise, cut in half.
Warm the oil in a wide pot with the onion, saffron, peppers, garlic, and potatoes. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring gently every now and then until the potatoes are tender-firm, about 25 minutes. Add the paprika, parsley, and pepper flakes and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until the juices in the pan are thick and syrupy, about 12 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and water to cover. Season with 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and plenty of pepper. Cover and cook over low heat until the potatoes are completely tender, about 20 minutes. Serve in soup bowls and sprinkle top with parsley.