Iberian meatballs with spiced pumpkin and chickpea stew. | Marc Fosh

I’ve been using fresh, young chickpeas grown here on the Island on my menus this week. They are small, green legumes and only need cooking for 3-4 minutes. They have a wonderful texture and it’s such a joy to be cooking with them right now. I love all legumes but the humble chickpea; known here in Spain as garbanzos, are my favourites.

They are one of the oldest consumed crops in the world, in fact, they have been a part of traditional Mediterranean diets for over 7,500 years and still today; chickpeas remain one of the most popular legumes across nearly every continent throughout the world. The most famous chickpea dish is undoubtedly hummus b’tahini (‘hummus’ simply means ‘chickpeas’ in arabic).

It consists of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, olive oil and lemon. Although loved the world over, it has become a source of contention between all the nations who argue that it was on their land that hummus was born. Scholars have long been unable to determine the precise origins of the thousand-year-old spread and everyone from the Lebanese to the Turks to the Syrians have tried and failed to claim it as their own and the hummus war still rages on today.

But there’s so much more to chickpeas than just hummus. They can be used in salads and stews and combine well with so many foods. Give a humble tin of chickpeas an injection of Indian spice and add them to curries or try my Moroccan inspired octopus and potato stew recipe from my Modern Mediterranean cookbook!

Iberian meatballs with spiced pumpkin and chickpea stew

For the meatballs:

  • 450g minced pork from the shoulder
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2tbsp chopped parsley
  • Seasoning

For the spiced pumpkin & chickpea stew:

  • 600g pumpkin, peeled & diced
  • 300g cooked chickpeas
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1tbsp finely chopped root ginger
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2tsp paprika
  • 1/2tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • A good pinch of saffron strands
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly diced
  • 2 star anise
  • 1tsp Harrisa
  • 250g chicken stock
  • 1tbsp chopped coriander
  • Seasoning

For the meatballs, mix all the ingredients well, season with salt and pepper, then shape into balls. Chill for a good 30 minutes in the fridge. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the meatballs for 4-5 minutes, turning now and then, until golden brown and cooked. Keep warm.

For the spiced pumpkin & chickpea stew: heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Stir in the onions, garlic, chilli, ginger and spices. Cover and cook gently for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the diced pumpkin, tomatoes, harrisa and chicken stock, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chickpeas and meatballs to the stew and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and sprinkle with chopped coriander.

Spiced chickpea & spinach patties with harrisa mayonnaise

Serves 4

  • 400g cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 150g spinach, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tbsp ras al hanout
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp Gram chickpea flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Harrisa mayonnaise

  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • 2tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  • 300ml vegetable oil
  • 2tps homemade harrisa

Place the spinach in a warm frying pan with a knob of butter and stir until wilted. Drain thoroughly, squeezing out any excess water. Place the chickpeas, ras al hanout, flour and egg yolk in a food processor and blend to a paste. Add the spinach and pulse to combine. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Dust your hands with flour, then take a 3 tablespoons of the mixture and mould it into an round shape and then flatten into patties. Repeat until all the mixture has been used, then place on a plate or tray dusted with flour. Chill for at least 1 hour until you are ready to cook. Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the patties for 2–3 minutes until golden brown on both sides and hot all the way through. Serve with salad leaves and harrisa mayonnaise.

For the mayonnaise, place the egg yolks, vinegar and mustard into the bowl of a food processor and blend until pale and creamy. With the motor running, pour in enough vegetable oil, in a steady stream, to form a thick mayonnaise. Add 1-2 spoonfuls of the harissa to the mayonnaise. Stir until well combined.