I’ve still got Barcelona on the mind! I keep meaning to get to Bar Pinotxo at La Boqueria to try their famous chickpea dishes (usually with morcilla, a Spanish black sausage, and raisins or apple) but I’ve never been able to wake myself up early enough (I’m under the impression that it’s less crowded early in the morning). We had some leftover chickpeas one night and the thought sprung to my mind to create a similar dish at home.

Chickpeas with Sausage, Raisins and Pine Nuts

This recipe is based on this video I found which shows one of the cooks at Bar Pinotxo preparing the dish. I’ve had to tweak it somewhat to use ingredients that I can easily get here and of course, I have no idea how mine compares to the real thing. One thing I do know – it’s mighty tasty with the creamy chickpeas and savoury pork mingling with the sweet raisins and nutty pine nuts and a bowlful makes a fine supper with a small hunk of bread alongside.

Chickpeas with Sausage, Raisins and Pine Nuts
serves 2-3.

2 tbsps olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 pork sausages
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pinenuts
1 tsp dried oregano
a pinch of dried thyme
1-2 tbsps chopped flat leaf parsley
500g cooked chickpeas
salt
2 tsps balsamic vinegar
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and pour in the oil when hot. Add the onions and cook them slowly until golden, about 10 minutes.

Peel the sausages and add the filling to the pan. Add the raisins, pine nuts, oregano and thyme in too. Fry, stirring and mashing the meat constantly – you want the meat to crumble to little bits. When the meat has cooked through, add the parsley and stir through. If it’s starting to look a bit too dry, you can toss in a bit of water at this time (a bit only!).

Add the chickpeas and stir to combine well. Let cook for another 5 or so minutes, stirring often. The chickpeas are precooked so you just want to heat them up here. When hot, take the pan off the heat, season with salt and pour in the balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Stir through well and serve.

Fresh Chickpeas

On a somewhat related note, I purchased these fresh chickpeas at a shop on Ealing Road near Wembley this past weekend. I wasn’t too sure how to prepare them so I boiled them for a few minutes, as I would edamame. Unlike edamame though, there are only one or two chickpeas per pod.

Fresh Chickpea

The pods collected lots of water and with a gentle squeeze, they’d shoot out jets of hot water. Sure it was a bit dangerous but we were rewarded with tender green chickpeas that made for a nice pre-dinner nibble.

Every year, at about this time, a particularly important deadline comes up and I’ll be working many a late night to meet it. There’s barely time to cook, let alone blog about it. Quick meals, like this one I had last week, now become extremely common in our household. With some good bread on the side, the whole meal is put together in under half an hour.

Preparation

The ingredients are easy to store and most of it can probably already be found in your pantry or fridge. It’s also a very malleable recipe and things can be substituted here and there. No sherry? Use white wine instead. Prefer a spicy Italian sausage? Feel free to use that instead of chorizo. Beans instead of chickpeas? Why not?! Sure beats takeaway or a frozen pizza (which unfortunately, have also made up too many dinners this past week).

Chorizo, Chickpea and Kale Stew

Chorizo, Chickpea and Kale Stew
serves 2-3

100g chorizo, chopped coarsely
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
olive oil
1-2 tins of chickpeas (2 tins if you want it to go further)
a good sized bunch of kale
a splash of dry sherry
half a tin of plum tomatoes
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add a good pour of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and saute until golden. Add the chorizo and continue sauteing until the chorizo starts to crisp and all the oil is now orange. Toss in the garlic and let it sizzle for a minute or two. Add a good splash of dry sherry and let that bubble and then reduce. When the sherry has all but bubbled away, add the drained and rinsed chickpeas and the tomatoes and the paprika. Add some water and let it all simmer gently.

In the meantime, clean your kale and strip the leaves from the hard stems. Shred the leaves roughly with a knife. Toss them into the pan, add more water if it looks like it needs it and then cover the pan. The kale will steam thanks to the water in the pan. Every 5 minutes or so, take a peek, give it a stir and add more water and cover and continue steaming if the kale is not done to your liking. You might prefer it with a bit more of a bite or perhaps you’d like it like you’d find vegetables in the Mediterranean – very, very soft. By this time, the chickpeas will also have softened a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with some nice bread.

I feel slightly ridiculous writing instructions on my latest obsession as it’s so so easy to put together. Essentially, it’s boiled chickpeas with olive oil and pepper.

Chickpeas

But! They aren’t just any old boiled chickpeas…the ones I’m obsessed with are boiled for at least 4 hours (that’s after soaking overnight too), giving the legume an almost creamy interior. Canned chickpeas still tend to have too much of a bite to them but I’ve recently discovered that my local shop sells large jars of a Spanish brand of chickpeas that are closer to the creaminess I desire. If you cannot find similar jars or don’t wish to have a pot on the boil for so many hours, the chickpeas from a tin can be poured into a pot of water and boiled for a further half an hour or so until the required texture is achieved.

Place a few heaping spoonfuls on a dish or in a bowl and drizzle plenty of extra virgin olive oil on top. Then a good few twists of the black pepper grinder and perhaps a little sprinkle of fleur de sel if it isn’t salty enough. Mix it all up together, or leave it as it is to keep the pretty pepper specks on top, and eat. Mmm…who knew chickpeas could taste this good?