Chickpea and Sausage Stew: We keep trying, and they keep being lame

Let me preface this with our current position on the source: Real Simple‘s aversion to spice is so profound as to make Food & Wine look like an Emeril disciple. It’s a problem nearly universal in cooking mags, or some reason, presumably so they don’t offend the delicate and unchallenged palettes of the midwest or wherever. Down here in Texas, we like flavor in our food, and react accordingly.

Anyway, the text, which we prepared as-written the first time around:


From Real Simple, 2/2008, p 169:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 12 oz Italian sausage, thawed, casings removed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 c parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 c low sodium chicken or veggie broth
  • 2 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 10-oz package frozen leaf spinach
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rustic bread

Serves 4.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling it with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley and cilantro and cook for 1 minute more. ADd the broth and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Add the frozen spinach and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a fork to separate the leaves. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Divide the toasted bread, if using, among individual bowls and spoon the stew on top.

We used veggie broth, which may have cut the flavor a bit, but in general the formula is lacking in panache. The resulting stew was hearty but bland (again, as nearly everything from RS is). We’ll make it again, but only with a bit more adjustments. It could profit from more onion, some garlic, twice the measure of tomato paste, and perhaps a smattering of cayenne — to start.

  • Ease: 4/5 — little prep and a short cook cycle make it a good choice when time is a factor
  • Mess: 5/5 — it’s a one-pot wonder
  • Flavor: as published, 2/5, but it’s got potential thanks to the simple ingredients to go much farther.

New Category!

I’m inaugerating a new category here at Heathen in order to share and document kitchen stunts for later perusal. Enjoy. First substantive entry follows…