CrockPot Recipe: Chickpea Stew with Spiced Yogurt & Harissa (vegan)
I'm pleased to announce that I've partnered up with CrockPot to create a nourishing and delicious slow cooker recipe post featuring one of my most beloved stews: chickpeas with yogurt and harissa.
The first time I enjoyed chickpea stew was many years ago while treating myself to lunch. I waited for quite awhile among the hipster chic crowd at Gjelina on Abbot Kinney in Venice before finally seating myself at the long wooden stretch of their communal table. Now, I know it may sound like I'm making such fanfare over a rustic bowl of chickpea stew here, with all of the preface and scene setting, however, the chickpea stew with yogurt and harissa was a sensory revelation. And maybe it was one of those moments when I just wanted a big ol' bowl of comfort food. Nevertheless, the chickpea stew was sublime in its simplicity.
After enjoying that bowl of chickpea stew, I was inspired to try to make it myself at home. Back then, I lived in a tiny apartment with an electric stove. The suggested slow cooking method for the recipe I found online was quite primitive.
The traditional Greek chickpea stew recipe called for a big clay pot sealed up with dough, lugging the heavy thing over to a large communal oven somewhere in a small Greek village, which involved many, many hours of waiting while slowly simmering the stew into a fragrant melange of lemon, thyme, onions, oregano, olive oil, and tender melty chickpeas.
Obviously, slow cooking methods have improved since. During my first attempt at a slow cooked chickpea stew, I could have definitely used a CrockPot. Instead, since I didn't have a slow cooker, I took the chance in putting together all of the ingredients into an actual clay pot and placed it reluctantly into my electric oven on the lowest heat setting for 8-something hours. I was truly afraid to fall asleep with the oven kept on all night. Perhaps I was being silly, but it wasn't how I imagined testing out my first version of chickpea stew. Honestly, slow cooking the stew in a CrockPot would have been the best method of choice.
This recipe is a flavorful and cozy stew that is entirely plant-based. You won't have to carry a heavy clay pot full of chickpeas to your local village wood-fired oven and wait for hours. Please, for the sake of ease, safety and modernity, don't attempt to slow cook your stew in a clay pot in your oven all night long.
I used the Crock-Pot 7-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry™ Slow Cooker to make this stew.
Chickpea Stew with Spiced Yogurt & Harissa
Serves 4 to 6
4-6 cans of chickpeas
1 yellow onion, quartered and chopped
1 bunch of carrots, peeled and chopped
6 garlic cloves, smashed
a few fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup of dry white wine
4-6 cups of vegetable stock
sea salt, to season
a few kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
a splash of red wine vinegar
a dollop of *harissa per serving bowl, to taste (optional)
a dollop of spiced "yogurt" per serving bowl (*see prep below)
You can find plant-based yogurts and mix in spices and herbs easily. Just buy some store bought non-dairy sour cream/plain yogurt, which works nicely and doesn't take any extra effort. All you have to do is mix in spices and herbs.
herbs & spices
pinch of ground coriander pinch of ground cumin 2 tbsp of chopped herbs (thyme, mint, cilantro), optional
To make 1 cup of spiced "yogurt" just use any non-dairy (or dairy yogurt if serving vegetarian) plain yogurt and mix in the herbs and spices. Add a touch of olive oil. Stir by hand or blend in food processor. Set aside for serving.
*Harissa is a Tunisian chili pepper paste made with fresh red peppers, garlic, salt, sunflower oil, coriander, and caraway. You can find this in most Middle Eastern markets, and to my surprise, Trader Joe's carries small jars of harissa in their stores.
Preparation to make the chickpea stew:
In a large soup pot, over medium heat, sauté the onion and cloves of garlic in a little olive oil. Allow the onion and garlic to soften and caramelize, about 15 minutes.
In a small frying pan (dry with no oil) over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds just until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool before grinding the toasted spices to a coarse powder (you can use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle).
Add a pinch of powdered cumin, paprika and turmeric into the pot with the onion and garlic, and cook until quite fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, scraping the bottom of the pot frequently so that it does not burn, and cook until the entire mixture is fragrant and turning color, about 5 minutes.
Add in a dash of white wine and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan until everything is reduced by half, 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of veggie stock.
Put all of the chickpeas, carrots and thyme into the pot, then pour all of the veggie broth in to cover. Season with a little sea salt and stir to combine.
Transfer the chickpea stew into your CrockPot to slow cook, until the chickpeas are tender, about 2-4 hours. (Since the chickpeas are canned, you don't need to cook them as long as dried chickpeas.)
Once the chickpea stew has slow cooked, you can keep it warm until serving by selecting the keep warm feature on your CrockPot. Season the stew to taste-- you can brighten up the flavors with some lemon juice and another splash of red wine vinegar, add more sea salt, or sometimes I use a little soy sauce/tamari to give it an extra savory taste. Also, don't forget to pull out the thyme stems before serving.
Serve in wide bowls with a dollop of spiced yogurt, a drizzle of harissa, a squeeze of lemon, and garnish with chopped kale. Pairs nicely with sourdough toast and garlic spread to soak up all of the stew.