Recipe: Spiced Chickpea and Kale Stew with Tomatoes

All leftovers are not created equal. Some, like a dressed salad for example, don’t benefit from a night in the refrigerator. But other foods do improve over time. Think about homemade soup or curry, for example. The flavor is often better when warmed again the next day. This spiced chickpea kale stew is delicious on day one, and even better the next day — but it’s not only the flavor that improves. Nutrition improves as well.

This delicious recipe prominently features tomatoes, which are a fantastic source of lycopene. Lycopene, the pigment that helps give red fruits and vegetables their color, is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system.

Studies have shown that lycopene can help in preventing cancer of the prostate, lung and stomach. And there is also evidence that lycopene could help reduce cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, esophagus, oral cavity, breast and cervix. In addition to its cancer-preventing properties, lycopene can also help reduce LDL cholesterol (often known as the “bad” cholesterol) and lower blood pressure. This can help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease too.

Tomatoes in any state are a nutritional powerhouse. But this recipe makes it even easier for the body to absorb the lycopene. Actually, it gets better over time. Research from the Ohio State University has found that the body receives a higher dose of lycopene from warmed or heated tomatoes. This processing of the tomatoes — yes, including re-warming the leftovers — may aid in absorption through chemical reactions.

Foods that do improve over time have an important commonality: they include ingredients with distinct aromatic properties — like onion, garlic, peppers or herbs. Aromatic ingredients tend to undergo a larger number of reactions that produce flavor and aroma compounds, which react with the proteins and the starches. As the food cools and sits in the fridge, and is then re-heated, some of these reactions continue to take place. This recipe features quite a few aromatics, so the flavor is bound to enhance over time. Just one more reason to eat your leftovers!

Spiced Kale and Chickpea Stew with Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 large tomatoes, chopped or a large can of whole tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cups kale, rinsed thoroughly, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. Drain chickpeas from soaking water. Place the chickpeas, bay leaf and a generous pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the chickpeas to cook until done, around 45 minutes.
  2. While the chickpeas are cooking, heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil in a medium pot. Sauté the garlic and onion with the spices until soft and translucent. Add the kale leaves, tomatoes and chickpeas. Cover with a lid and simmer on medium-low heat for 35-45 minutes.
  3. Season with sea salt and pepper. Serve immediately — and don’t forget to enjoy the leftovers for even more of a nutritional punch!

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