A Healthier Dinner: Braised Chickpeas with Tofu and Kale

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Kale and quinoa are basically clichés at this point, but they often really do hit the spot. Social Costa Mesa sous chef Daniel Chavez said he busts out this dish as soon as the weather gets chilly (he very recently moved from New York to California).

Chavez developed this dish when his wife was pregnant and he wanted to cook for her as much as possible. He wanted meals to "be healthy but also fast. This was one of those one-pot wonders. It's comforting, warm, and filling, but won't weigh you down." Plus it has a fairly short ingredient list, with a lot of pantry staples.

"In our house, steamed white rice is always available, but when trying to cook healthier, we substitute quinoa; it's just as easy to cook and works well with this dish, but not necessary." If you don’t have quinoa on hand, you can substitute any other fast-cooking whole grain. Brown rice would finish cooking at about the same time as the stew, if you start it first. You could even add whole wheat pasta to the stew in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Or just serve with some crusty bread. 

Braised Chickpeas with Tofu and Kale

Serves 4

Time: 45 minutes 


  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled, cleaned, and sliced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp whole fennel seed
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cans of chickpeas (12oz. cans)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bunches of tuscan kale, ribs removed, torn or chopped into pieces similar in size to tofu
  • 2 packs of firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 3 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • zest of 1 lemon


  1. Put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over low heat. When the oil is hot, lightly brown sliced garlic, then add red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds to bloom spices.
  2. Once the garlic is golden brown and spices are fragrant, add sliced onions and sweat. Lightly season with salt along the way.
  3. Add chickpeas and stock, raise heat, and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. You’re trying to split some of the chickpeas by boiling — this will add some body to stew.
  4. Reduce to a simmer, add kale, and cover pot until kale “melts” into chickpeas, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Gently fold in tofu, oregano, simmer another 10 minutes.
  6. Finish with lemon zest, EVOO, and adjust seasoning. Serve with quinoa.


For the quinoa:

Rinse the quinoa, then put it in a large pot with a good pinch of salt. You want 1.25 times the amount of water to the volume of quinoa. So if you use 2 cups of quinoa, add 2 1/2 cups of water. Turn the heat to medium-high to bring the water to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture simmers gently. The quinoa will be done when all the water is absorbed.