Barbara Kafka

Vegetarian Feast

Chickea Stew with Poached Eggs

 (from The Intolerant Gourmet)

Increasingly, I seem to have friends who are vegetarians. This robust dish is beautiful and a treat. For those who like spicier food, some harissa stirred into the vegetable stew before the eggs are added gives a good jolt. Vegans can omit the eggs.

2 bunches spinach, cleaned, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

1 can chickpeas (19 ounces) or 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

2 cups grape tomatoes

1 cup whole roasted almonds

1 bunch scallions (4-5 ounces), trimmed of root end, cut across in 1/4-inch pieces including as much of the green as needed or desired (about 1 cup)

1 bunch of fresh mint (about 1 ounce), leaves removed and coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

2 cups dried gluten-free penne

1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 eggs

Pour 2 cups of water into a large (4-5 quarts) saucepot over medium heat. When the water begins to steam, drop in spinach. Cook until spinach is dark green and wilted (about 2 minutes). Add tomatoes, almonds, and scallions. Simmer 5 minutes.

Bring 3 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in a large saucepot over high heat. Drop pasta into the pot and cook for 5 minutes. While pasta is cooking add remaining ingredients (except for the eggs) to the vegetables. Drain pasta and add to vegetables. Stir well and cook for 1 minute. The stew is done. The dish can be made ahead until this point. To finish put stew in skillet and return to simmer. Proceed as below.

Remove stew to a large (14-inch) skillet. Make sure the tomatoes and almonds are evenly distributed throughout the pan. Using the bottom of a soup ladle, make 6 deep indentations along the edges of the stew. Carefully crack an egg into each of the indents. Cover the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes until the whites have set but the yolks are still runny. Serve immediately.     

Serves 4-6 as a main course

Note: Harissa goes well with this dish for those who want a little more spice.

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