A smoky, vibrant, delicious Lebanese Chickpea Stew flavored with the warmth of za'atar is what I have for you today.
This is a weeknight recipe, especially if you're using canned chickpeas, like I did. There is a minimum of chopping required, lots of flavor added by the already-roasted red bell peppers and rich tomato paste, and the je ne sais quoi of the za'atar which is an herb and spice mix I often turn to when I want lots of flavor for little effort.
Lebanese food is not only extremely tasty, but it often uses a rich complement of vegetables and beans which makes it really healthy. Even meat dishes often contain beans or grains. And many dishes, as flavorful they are, can also be uncomplicated to make, requiring a bare minimum of spices and herbs that combine skilfully to give you loads of flavor and oomph.
It's almost impossible to describe the incredible fragrance that wafted through the kitchen and the house as I made this stew. Desi walked in the door sniffing the air, and wolfed down a bowl of rice topped with the stew. "It's very good," he proclaimed.
Vegan Lebanese Chickpea Stew
- Large saucepan
- 30 ounces chickpeas (canned, or cooked at home. Drain before using)
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 2-3 tsp za'atar
- 2 leaves bay
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 roasted bell pepper (I used the jarred kind. Chop into ½-inch pieces)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp parsley (chopped)
- With a mortar or pestle, or in a food processor, crush the cumin and the garlic together until you have a very coarse paste.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan.
- Add the cumin and garlic mixture and saute a minute or so until it turns fragrant.
- Add the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and paprika. Saute, stirring frequently, for about two more minutes.
- Add the chickpeas and stir to mix. Add four cups of water, the za'atar, bay leaves and the roasted red pepper. Mix well.
- Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat until it boils gently, and cook for 15 minutes. I like to mash some of the chickpeas with the back of the ladle to thicken the stew slightly.
- Add salt to taste and stir in the parsley. Turn off the heat.
- Serve hot. This is perfect with rice, brown or white. You can also serve with some crusty bread, or some whole wheat pita bread.