2 medium onions (3/4 lb. total weight)
2 medium potatoes (3/4 lb. total weight)
1/2 cup olive oil
6 large cloves garlic
42 ozs. good-quality canned tomatoes (e.g., Muir Glen brand), or substitute 18-20 ripe Romas
22 ozs. canned chick peas (or substitute home cooked)
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
2 1/4-3 teaspoons salt (to taste)
5 large scallions
Small bunch Italian parsley
15 ozs. clean baby spinach (or substitute cleaned and stemmed bunch spinach or chard)
1. Peel and chop onion medium-fine. Peel potato and cut into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes; keep in mind that smaller pieces cook faster. Heat a heavy, wide saucepan or skillet on medium-high heat; add olive oil. When oil is hot, add onion and potato and cook, stirring as needed to prevent sticking, for 10 minutes or longer— just until some of the onion colors gold around the edges and potato pieces are trying to stick and brown onto bottom of the pan. Toward the end of the cooking time, turn/scrape with a wide metal spatula/pancake turner.
2. Peel garlic, trim off root nubs, and press or mince very finely. Drain tomatoes, but save the juice. Chop tomatoes finely and set aside. Using fresh tomatoes, save tomatoes and their juice together. Drain chickpeas; discard liquid, if canned. If freshly cooked, save cooking liquid to use for soup stock (can be frozen); or use in this dish in place of water if sauce needs thinning.
3. When onion/potato is ready, add tomatoes and 1/2 the saved tomato juice. Scrape pan well to deglaze, reduce heat to low, and cook together for about 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas, garlic, pepper, cayenne, most of the salt, and some of the remaining tomato juice, if too dry. Cover and simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, trim off roots and chop scallions—white and green parts. Stem enough parsley leaves and chop medium-fine to make 2 large handfuls; set aside with scallion.
5. After stew has simmered 10 minutes, add spinach, tearing up any large leaves. If stew is too dry after spinach wilts and incorporates, add remaining tomato juice and/or a little water; use some chickpea liquid, if peas are fresh-cooked. Stir well, cover, and simmer 5 minute. Taste and correct seasonings. Stir in chopped scallions and parsley, cook together another 1-2 minutes, and serve. Good with pita or French bread, or over rice or quinoa.