About this recipe:This hearty tomato-based stew is hearty winter fare at its best. Chickpeas combine with flavourful Italian sausage, garlic, onion, peppers and herbs for a comforting meal. The pasta added at the end of cooking helps to thicken the stew. Use any small pasta shape you desire.
600g dried chickpeas
4 tablespoons olive oil
900g mild Italian pork sausage, cut into 2.5cm pieces
1 pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
60g plain flour
1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes with garlic and herbs
1L chicken stock, or more if needed
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons crushed red chillies
salt and ground black pepper to taste
100g penne rigate or pipette pasta
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Place the chickpeas into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight. Or, bring the beans and water to the boil in a large pot over high heat. Once boiling, turn off the heat, cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse before using.
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan or casserole over medium-high heat, then stir in the sausage. Cook and stir until the sausage is evenly browned and no longer pink. Remove sausage and set aside, leaving any fat from the sausage in the frying pan. Return the frying pan to the hob and reduce the heat to medium, then add the pepper and onion. Cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes; stir in the garlic. Continue cooking and stirring until the onion is golden brown, about 5 more minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in the flour until the mixture becomes paste-like and light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Gradually stir the tomatoes and chicken stock into the flour mixture, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook and stir until the mixture is thick and smooth, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with basil, parsley, red chillies, salt and pepper. Stir in the sausage. Cover and cook over low heat for 2 hours, then add the prepared chickpeas. Cook for an additional hour.
Meanwhile, fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to the boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the pasta, and return to the boil. Cook the pasta uncovered until cooked but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain well in a sieve set in the sink. Stir the pasta into the stew, adding more chicken stock, if desired.
Using tinned chickpeas is ok, but they break down easier and become mushy. Using dried chickpeas and cooking them yourself gives you a heartier, chewier bean that holds up well under stewing.
Recipe may varied using chorizo, merguez or other highly flavoured sausages based on the individual tastes. Spicy Italian sausage may also be used.