Who else has been indulging just a liiiittle bit too much this festive season? Seriously, I’ve been eating more than a Victoria’s Secret model post-catwalk; every little bit of festive cheer that’s been offered, I’ve had two helpings (plus one for the road). But what the hell, right, it is Christmas after all! It’s just unfortunate that Christmas coincides with swimsuit season, which really does seem like a cruel southern hemisphere irony.
Anyway, after all the indulging, I have been feeling like something a bit nourishing and vaguely healthy, so I thought I’d make a hearty chickpea stew. Because it IS Christmas, I felt like I couldn’t go entirely fun-free, hence the bacon (‘cos ain’t no party like a bacon party). But there are just two little ol’ rashers, so it’s not going to completely derail you.
Using canned chickpeas makes this a super-fast meal for midweek, but you know my policy on ‘real’ pulses – if you can be bothered, by all means use them! But for the record, using the tinned ones means you can make this entire dish (including prep time) in half an hour – and that gets a ‘hells yeah’ in my book.
Because of the season, my homegrown thyme is super soft and just generally delicious so I threw it all in whole, but if yours is on the woody side (or just don’t like it), just use the leaves. In most cases I like to add herbs right at the end of a dish so they retain their flavour, colour and don’t totally disintegrate, but given the super-speedy cooking time of this dish I put them in earlier, so they have a chance to flavour the olive oil and bacon fat (trust me, it tastes a lot more delicious than it sounds).
It was a cool and rainy evening when I made this, so I served with rice and a salad on the side, but you could just serve with some steamed vegies and/or salad if you’re feeling virtuous – or on some pasta with a good crack of parmesan if you’re really embracing the festive lifestyle.
Chickpea, tomato and bacon stew
1 brown onion, diced
1 glove of garlic, crushed or cut very finely
2 rashers of bacon, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can of crushed tomatoes
Small handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 tbsps chopped fresh European parsley
2 tbsps chopped fresh oregano leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat a good glug of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or casserole dish.
- Add bacon and fry for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add onion, garlic and celery, and continue to fry, until onion is translucent and bacon takes on some colour.
- Add herbs and stir for a minute or two to release their fragrance.
- Add chickpeas and tomato and bring up to a simmer.
- Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Season to taste and serve.