With a touch of cinnamon and mint, this stew is cozy, bright, and so aromatic.
By Jill Nammar
Stews are so warm and comforting, aren’t they? They’re also one-pot cooking. Affordable, transportable and wholesome, I rely on them as a healthy source of protein and nourishment. It’s also a plus that they reheat well.
Like my grandmother taught me, adding a little bit of cinnamon and some dried mint to Arabic dishes is the key to authentic flavor. Have you ever wondered what makes this cuisine taste so good? Chances are there are pinches of subtle spices and dried herbs in each dish. The cinnamon is cozy and the mint is fresh. My grandmother put them in everything from stuffed grape leaves to stews like this one.
Your kitchen will smell divine as it’s cooking.
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 large bell peppers, chopped. You pick the colors. I like green peppers in this stew, but red, orange or yellow would be great too.
- 3 garlic cloves, minced. Use a microplane zester or garlic press to mince it.
- 3 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped.
- 1 16 ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 16 ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 26.46 ounce box of Pomi Strained Tomatoes or a 28 ounce can of tomato puree
- 13 ounces or a generous 1-1/2 cups of canned crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup of white wine or a couple of splashes of dry vermouth (optional)
- 1½ cups of vegetable broth
- Drizzle of honey or about a teaspoon of sugar to balance the acid in the tomatoes.
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. Rub it between your fingers to release the flavor.
- ½ teaspoon of dried marjoram (optional)
- ½ teaspoon of dried mint
- 2 dried bay leaves, remember to remove them before serving.
- A couple of pinches of ground cinnamon
- Olive oil for cooking and drizzling
- Sea salt or kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- To Serve: freshly chopped parsley, flaky sea salt, a drizzle fruity olive oil, yogurt, pita bread, bulgur wheat or quinoa
- In a large dutch oven or an oven safe pot with a lid, sauté the onions and bell pepper on medium to medium high heat with some olive oil, salt and pepper. It helps to cover the pot. Add a little water if you don’t want to use too much oil to sauté them.
- Once the pepper and onions are soft, add the potatoes, garlic, chickpeas, white beans, tomatoes, vegetable broth, wine/vermouth, sugar, dried herbs, spices, bay leaves and more salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil. Immediately turn down the heat, simmer, covered for about 5-7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After 5 minutes of stove top simmering, place the pot in the oven and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. When the stew is finished cooking, remove bay leaves. Adjust the salt and pepper. Also add a pinch more of dried oregano, mint and cinnamon. Serve with any of the suggestions listed in serving options above. Enjoy!
Regular baking potatoes are added to give the stew some body and substance. The starch in the potatoes helps thicken the sauce, producing a rich and satisfying stew with no added fat.
I love Pomi Tomato products for their unmatched clean, garden-ripe taste. They come in a box instead of a can. If you can’t find them, good quality tomato puree is fine too.
The stew is started on the stove and finished in the oven for even cooking and a delicious, homey flavor.
Wine gives another layer of flavor to this dish. I often don’t want to open a bottle to use in a recipe so I keep a bottle of dry or extra dry vermouth in the fridge. I use vermouth in place of white wine in most of my savory dishes. You can also omit the wine or vermouth with good results.
Finish it with a drizzle of good olive oil, a dollop of Greek yogurt and/or some freshly chopped parsley. If you’re serving a crowd, some olives, feta and pita bread rounds out the meal.