Tender chickpea stew with a little help from Koita almond milk, a pressure cooker, and a fourteenth-century Catalonian cookbook.

Catalonian chickpea stew with almond milk

Disclosure: I was sent a case of Koita Foods almond milk and almond-coconut milk to sample and review, and all opinions are my own. 

One of my favorite bits from any episode of Nigella Lawson’s many cooking shows is when she takes a moment to stand in front of her wall-to-wall bookcase teeming with cookbooks. Sometimes she’ll start flipping through ones that influenced the recipe she’s about to make, and sometimes she’s happy to share some of the goofier titles in her collection, like Liberace’s cookbook. 

Though my collection is as of yet that vast, I am proud of some of the more singular books that are part of it. The oddest book I have is probably Les Diners de Cala by Salvador Dalí (and yes, it’s as surrealist as you would expect), but perhaps the book that challenges me the most whenever I do one of my cookbook audits is the medieval tome The Book of Sent Soví, a Catalonian cookbook hailing from the mid-14th century. 

The recipes are pretty sparse–some spanning a short paragraph and no more–but to me that allows for a wider berth of interpretation, and that’s how I adapted a recipe for tender chickpeas into this chickpea stew. You’re instructed to cook chickpeas in almond milk, and then flavor that with some salt, oil, various herbs, ginger, and a little sour grape juice, and that’s basically what I did–though I used lemon juice instead of sour grape juice to add the splash of tartness at the end. 

If pressed for time you could absolutely use canned chickpeas in this dish, but I used my pressure cooker in order to prepare dried beans because it requires no soaking overnight. Once at pressure, the beans take 60 minutes to cook and another 10-15 to naturally release, which gives you plenty of time to prep the other ingredients so that you are ready to go once the beans are ready.

Koita Almond Milk–so farm, I’m really liking it so far!

I saw this stew as the perfect way to try Koita Foods’ almond milk. The company was founded by US-born Mustafa Koita and provides a line of plant-based dairy alternatives made with organic Italian ingredients, save for the coconuts which are sourced from Thailand. Shelf-stable and vegan, the milks are produced in Italian factories and are just now appearing on US store shelves in the Northeast but can be also found online on their website and on Amazon. I was intrigued not only to see how I could use these milks in recipes, but to also see how Michael  liked them with cereal and oatmeal. I have several cartons to work with, so I’ll be sharing more insights in this space.

I genuinely loved how the almond milk reduced and thickened in this stew. Usually when I make it I might get a store brand of almond milk, but seldom would it reach the consistency I experienced here. In a recipe this simple, the quality of ingredients is incredibly important, so it’s worth the effort to seek out this milk and/or order some for yourself. This stew was so successful that I’m stoked to give the almond-coconut milk a spin–since the milks have little-to-no sugar in them, it’s easy to use them in both savory and sweet applications.

In the meantime, try this stew. As we make the transition from winter to spring, this feels perfect for this time of year–warm and comforting and yet also light and bright.

Catalonian tender chickpea stew

Inspired by The Book of Sent Soví by Joan Santanach et al

Serves four

  • One recipe pressure cooker chickpeas (recipe follows) or 2 15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 TB fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 large sprigs thyme
  • 2 large sprigs rosemary
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 TB parsley, minced
  • 1 TB marjoram or basil, minced
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large saucepan and heat on medium heat. When it shimmers, add the shallot and the ginger, and cook until translucent. Add the chickpeas, rosemary, thyme, and almond milk and bring to a rapid simmer. Simmer for about 30-35 minutes or until the stew has reduced about a third. Season with salt and pepper, add the remaining herbs and lemon juice, and taste again and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve in bowls immediately.

Pressure cooker chickpeas

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
  • 1 carrot, cut into large chunks
  • ½ sweet onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • Kosher salt to taste

To prepare the chickpeas, combine the chickpeas, celery, carrot, sweet onion, garlic cloves, 1 cup of water, and two teaspoons of olive oil into the pressure cooker, close, and place on high pressure. Cook for 60 minutes and let the pressure naturally release. When the pressure has eased, take out the spent vegetation and then season the beans with salt. (If bits of onion or garlic remain, don’t sweat it.) Drain the chickpeas from their cooking liquid (again if some hangs on that’s OK), and set aside until ready to use. 

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