Greek Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew w/ Spinach, Kalamatas & Feta

Greek Cauliflower, Chickpea Stew w Spinach, Kalamatas, Feta (c) jfhaugen“Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.” —Mark Twain

One-Pot Wonders
There’s something about one-pot meals that are so nurturing. Guess that’s why I often prepare soups and stews and stir-fries—everything altogether in one pot with all the flavors harmoniously blended. After cooking,Cauliflower (c) jfhaugen the final dish is much more fragrant and flavorsome than any one ingredient would be on its own—a delicious confirmation of the maxim about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

I was introduced to Martha Rose Shulman’s one-pot recipe for Greek Chicken Stew with Cauliflower & Olives by my daughter-in-law.  Beth was preparing a vegetarian version for Valentine’s Day dinner by replacing the chicken with chickpeas. Sounded like a great idea to me, so I made the same substitution and then added carrots and some fresh spinach.

We enjoyed it but felt the flavors were a bit timid—made sense as the original recipe had chicken which admittedly is rather more flavorful than a can of chickpeas. Robust bean and vegetable soups and stews are commonly eaten throughout Greece. So I made the stew once again, this time increasing the cinnamon and adding cumin, bay leaves, oregano and fresh mint—all typical Greek seasonings. And voila, another everyday healthy and delicious recipe to share.

Cauliflower’s in season from December till March
Cauliflower means “cabbage flower” yet it is often more of a wallflower among vegetables with its main role as the white vegetable on crudités platters. Even then more often than not it is overlooked in favor of cucumbers, baby carrots and sugar snap peas.

But change is in the air this winter as more and more recipes featuring cauliflower are appearing in magazines and online. This is a good thing as cauliflower is in the same family of veggies as broccoli and kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts and arugula. All these nutrient-rich cruciferous vegetables provide nourishment and support for our health in so many ways that eating them a number of times each week is encouraged.

How fortunate that there are so many cruciferous veggies and so many ways to enjoy them in nourishing one-pot meals as well as something white or green to dunk into Spicy Peanut Sauce or other dips on a crudités platter.

Greek Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew w/ Spinach, Kalamatas, Feta (c) jfhaugenGreek Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew
w/ Spinach, Kalamatas & Feta

Inspired by Beth Cooper Benjamin and adapted
from a recipe by Martha Rose Schulman in the New York Times.
Delicious served hot over a bed of rice or other grains . . .
and quite tasty as a leftover for lunch the next day.

4-6 servings

1½ tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly pole to pole
2 cups carrots, sliced into 1/3-inch thick rounds
4 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon salt
Half a dozen twists freshly ground pepperSpinach, Feta, Kalamatas, Parsley (c) jfhaugen
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, pulsed a couple of times in a food processor
¾ cup water
1 25-ounce can ( or 2 15-ounce cans) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 bay leaves
Half a large cauliflower, cored, cut into florets and sliced ½-inch thick
5 cups packed baby spinach
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes until it is translucent. Remove the lid, stir in the carrots, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, cumin, thyme and oregano. After 1 minute stir in the red wine vinegar, pulsed tomatoes, water, chickpeas and bay leaves.

Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pan, and lower the heat so the mixture simmers for 10 minutes.

The Cauliflower & Chickpeas are Stewing (c) jfhaugenAdd the cauliflower to the pan, submerging it as possible in the liquids. Cover the pan and simmer all together for 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.

Stir in the spinach, Kalamatas and 2/3 of the feta cheese. When the spinach has wilted stir in the parsley and mint. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve over a bed of cooked grains such as quinoa, rice, couscous or bulgur, and garnished with the remaining feta cheese.

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5 thoughts on “Greek Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew w/ Spinach, Kalamatas & Feta

  1. This is delicious. And oh, so colorful. I used dried mint from last year’s garden, since The Co Op did not have fresh mint. I think I used a bit to much, so I will be mindful next time.
    The funny thing was that I followed the directions and when I got to the last step, the chickpeas were still sitting in the strainer, anxiously waiting to be added to the one pot wonder. I had to re read the recipe two or three times, but I could not find the chickpeas in the directions. Naturally, an easy modification, but nearly served it without the chickpeas.

    • Ute, thank you for pointing out that I forgot to say when to add the chickpeas! I just adjusted the recipe and they get added along with the tomatoes and spices. So very glad you noticed your chickpeas and added them to your stew. Re: the mint, perhaps you already know, though usually when a recipe calls for a fresh herb you use 1/3 of the amount of a dry herb as they are more concentrated. Thank you again, for saving others from the fate of a stew without chickpeas.

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  3. Janice, I’m so pleased to have inspired this…and so grateful for your additions and revisions! I used one small can of chickpeas and would definitely double it next time…and I’m eager to try it again with the additional veggies and seasonings you recommend, especially the fresh mint! YUM.

    • Thank you, Beth, for sharing this recipe with me. Next time I make it I may add 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper as well for a little kick.

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