Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.
Inspired by caldo Gallego, a simple stew that farmers in the northern Spanish region of Galicia make from the ingredients growing in their fields, this dish depends on the flavorful broth you get from cooking dried beans. But if you can’t wait a couple of hours, cook the beans a day or two before instead of opening a can.
I never soak beans because, as specialty food company Rancho Gordo founder Steve Sando says, soaking time could be cooking time. But it does break the process up into shorter segments, so soak if you want. Otherwise, just make sure the beans are always covered with water while they cook, and simmer them at the lowest setting your burner allows. Bean cooking time always varies, but for this cook the garbanzos until they’re very tender.
Caramelizing the onion is the other secret to the flavor here, and it also takes some time. While the beans simmer away, cook the onion over medium-low heat until it’s dark brown and nearly melted away, at least 45 minutes. If it looks like it’s burning, add a couple of tablespoons of water and keep cooking.
1 cup garbanzo beans
6 cups water, plus more as needed
1/2 head green cabbage, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 large carrot, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Put the garbanzos, water and about a teaspoon of salt in a deep saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the beans are very tender—2-3 hours. Check and add more water if needed to keep the beans covered.
In a heavy skillet, cook the onion in the olive oil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until very dark, at least 45 minutes. If the onion starts to burn, add a few tablespoons of water and continue cooking.
Add the caramelized onion, cabbage, potatoes and carrots to the beans. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.