Fish Braised with Chickpeas

Cook time 2 hours
Servings 4

I love cooking with dried chickpeas – the results are far better than using the canned option – and served the way they are here, with lovely chunks of white fish, is a simple favourite of mine. I particularly love cooking chickpeas in the slow cooker as they become super creamy with steady, even cooking. Be sure not to season your chickpeas until they’re cooked. If seasoned at the beginning, the outer shell will harden and they take much longer to soften.

Ingredients

300g (1½ cups) dried chickpeas (see Note)

80ml (⅓ cup) extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

1 fresh or dried bay leaf

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 anchovy fillets, chopped

1 tomato, quartered

Salt & pepper

½ juice & zest lemon

600g Monkfish fillets (or other white-fleshed fish), skin removed and pin-boned, cut into 3 cm pieces

2 store-bought roasted capsicum fillets, drained and sliced

2 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, chopped

Fish Braised with Chickpeas

I love cooking with dried chickpeas – the results are far better than using the canned option – and served the way they are here, with lovely chunks of white fish, is a simple favourite of mine. I particularly love cooking chickpeas in the slow cooker as they become super creamy with steady, even cooking. Be sure not to season your chickpeas until they’re cooked. If seasoned at the beginning, the outer shell will harden and they take much longer to soften.

Method

Soak the chickpeas in plenty of water overnight, then drain and rinse well.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and bay leaf and cook, stirring regularly, for 10–12 minutes until the onion is softened with a little colour. Add the garlic, anchovy, tomato and oregano and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the chickpeas to the pan and stir to coat in the onion mixture, then pour in enough water to submerge everything by 4 cm (about 2–3 litres but this will depend on the capacity of your pan). Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover with the lid and cook for 1½–2 hours until the chickpeas are soft and creamy.

Generously season the chickpea stew with salt and a pinch of pepper. Using a potato masher, mash some of the chickpeas to thicken the sauce, then stir through the lemon juice.

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Turn the heat off and add the chunks of fish to the chickpea stew. Cover with the lid and allow the residual heat to poach the fish for 8–10 minutes. Top with the capsicum strips and chopped parsley and serve.

NOTE—Alternatively, use two 400g cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas. If cooking the traditional way, cover the canned chickpeas with 2 cm of water (instead of 4 cm) and cook for 1 ½ hours; if using the slow cooker, cook on low for 6 hours.

Slow Cooker Method

Follow steps 1 and 2, then tip the onion mixture into the slow cooker, add the chickpeas and pour in enough water to cover everything by 2–3 cm. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8–9 hours, or until tender.

Follow step 4, then season the fish and place on top of the chickpea stew. Cover and cook on high for 10–12 minutes or on low for 20 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. Serve, topped with the capsicum and parsley.