Mel’s Spanish Chickpea & Almond Stew
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
3 tablespoons chopped or flaked almonds
1½ tablespoons butter or ghee
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large red or orange pepper, deseeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large handful of fresh parsley, stalks finely chopped and leaves roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
100ml stock/bone broth or water (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Veg Portions / Serving: 3
Recipe donated by Melissa Hemsley for Veg Power. Recipe from "Eat Happy" by Melissa Hemsley. Photography by Issy Croker | issycroker.com
Using store cupboard staples and spinach from the freezer, this Seville-inspired stew comes together in under 20 minutes and is a hit with everyone. You could swap the spinach for other greens, such as chopped chard, or add extra bits and bobs, such as a few tablespoons of capers, olives or chopped sun-dried tomatoes. I love this as a stew-like soup in a bowl, but you could make it thicker and serve with a side of quinoa.
In a large, deep frying pan, toast the almonds over a medium heat for just under a minute until golden, then set aside. Melt the butter in the hot pan, add the onion and pepper and fry for 6 minutes until starting to soften.
Add the garlic, spices and parsley stalks and fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent them from burning, then add the tomato purée and cook for another 30 seconds.
Tip the tinned tomatoes into the pan, turn up the heat to a medium simmer and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered, to thicken and reduce. Add the chickpeas and cook for another 3 minutes with a lid on. If you want the stew to be more soup- like, add the stock.
Turn up the heat, drop in the spinach and cook for 1 minute, covered with the lid, then add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Serve each bowl with a good drizzle of olive oil and with the parsley leaves and toasted almonds scattered over.
Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.
Kids in the kitchen
The kids might like helping with this one by peeling the garlic and onion, squeezing the lemon juice and washing the chickpeas. They can also measure out the tomato puree and add it to the stew.
While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.
Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.
The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.