Commonly used for dishes like hummus or whole in salads, the chickpea has a much broader potential in the kitchen. This week's recipe uses the versatile chickpea along with some traditional curry ingredients to produce an unusual and savory stew.

Chickpeas - also known as garbanzos - have a long culinary history. Over the years, they have been ground into flour, included in many Italian dishes, and traditionally used in three-bean salads.

There are actually two kinds of chickpeas - the Kabuli variety familiar to Americans, and the Desi type which is smaller and a darker color. These legumes are nutritional powerhouses, high in protein, fiber, folate, iron and other minerals.

They have a subtle, yet distinct nutlike taste. Chickpeas absorb the flavors of garlic, tomatoes and chicken broth and are further enhanced by the addition of bay, cumin, turmeric, and ginger in this palate-pleasing recipe.

Known to Egyptians five millennia ago, cumin provides a pungent, slightly peppery, earthy flavor. Turmeric, often associated with Indian food, imparts a subtle warm quality and it has strong antioxidant capabilities. Perhaps the most surprising ingredient is the ginger. It also adds a pungent layer of warmth.

The acidity of the lemon juice helps balance this range of flavors. By stirring in the spinach just before serving, it wilts without being overcooked and provides color, texture and more nutrition. Spinach is high in vitamins A and K, folate, iron, calcium and contains antioxidants.

Beyond its health promoting benefits, though, this stew is characterized by great flavor. Easy to prepare, it's a fresh way to expand your menu to match your busy schedule while creating something that is good for you without sacrificing taste. It is sure to satisfy your appetite.

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Savory Chickpea Stew with Spinach and Lemon

Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves

Directions

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  1. Heat large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Then add ginger and salt. Add cumin, turmeric, bay leaf and pepper and toss to combine well.
  2. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until onions are soft. Then add chickpeas, toss, and add broth. Cook, uncovered for about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and taste for seasoning.
  4. Stir in spinach leaves. Serve.

Per Serving:
150 calories
4.5 g total fat
0.5 g saturated fat
21 g carbohydrate
6 g protein
5 g dietary fiber
330 mg sodium