Does it feel like I spend an inordinate about of time talking about the weather? Mostly…COMPLAINING about the weather! Maybe it’s a “Chicago” thing, I don’t know. Our seasons seem so jumbled lately. A mild winter, followed by a cold spring and delayed summer. Or a blistering hot summer that carries on till fall. As I write this post, I am staring out at a sea of mud and puddles in my back yard. Grey skies and drizzle. Spring…sigh.
Thankfully, I always have a good recipe in my back pocket, to make us happy even when the weather is getting us down and this Spring Lamb Stew is perfect for those chilly spring evenings when winter just won’t let go.
Especially if you’ve been stuck in the beef stew rut, this stew is a welcome change. Very simple ingredients that require minimum prep time and best of all: it’s ready in a little over an hour! I imagine if you have one of those fancy “Instant Pots”, you could probably pull this off in no time!
Also love this recipe because it offers something a bit different that your typical “run of the mill” lamb stews. Chick peas (See Resources section after recipe) and an abundant amount of fresh spinach at the end, add a nice touch of texture and color, not to mention health benefits! If chick peas aren’t your thing, definitely feel free to substitute canned white beans.
Also recommend serving over mashed potatoes or soft polenta to complete the meal and of course some red wine and plenty of candles to make you forget all about Mother Nature’s wrath.
Until next time, be well, eat well and love lots!
~Spring Lamb Stew with Spinach and Chick Peas~
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds of lamb stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (see Note>)
- Garlic powder, Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 TBS olive oil
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 1/2 cups pieces peeled carrots (1/2-inch pieces)
- 1 15-ounce can chick peas (or canned white beans), drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
- 1 8 or 10-ounce package ready-to-use spinach leaves
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Piece of parchment paper, cut to fit inside pot
Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season all over with garlic powder, salt and pepper. In a large pot, heath olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add stew meat in one layer and leave undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Then turn and continue browning about five more minutes. Add onions and carrots and continue to brown, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften (about 5 minutes longer).
Stir in tomato sauce, chicken stock, chick peas and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Carefully lay parchment paper over the surface of the stew. Cover with lid and reduce heat. Simmer until stew meat is tender, about 1 hour.
Remove lid and discard parchment paper. If stew seems too dry, just add a little more stock to your liking. Add spinach by the handful, stirring. Cover and cook until spinach wilts, about 4 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve over mashed potatoes or polenta, with lemon wedges.
NOTE> Lamb shoulder chops are usually your best bet for stew meat, unless your butcher or grocery store happen to have meat already cut up. If purchasing shoulder chops, be sure to purchase about 2# to yield 1 1/4# of stew meat.
Evidence of chicken pea (aka garbanzo bean) consumption dates back to thousands of years B.C. This legume is known for its versatility, health benefits (high in fiber, iron and protein) and is used widely through many different cuisines. They can be roasted, added to soups, stews, salads and pureed for dishes like my world famous hummus.
Canned chickpeas are widely available but the quality varies, as this tasting panel from Fine Cooking Magazine discovered. Their #1 pick: Goya brand chick peas, followed by Pastene (a brand I have never seen here in the Chicago area). I also think La Preferida brand to be superior as well. So next time you’re in the market for best quality canned chick peas, head to the Hispanic section instead of the canned vegetable aisle!