Garden Vegetable Sauce with Chickpeas

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed

3 onions, minced

2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced ¼ inch thick

8 garlic cloves, minced

teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water

1¼ cups dried chickpeas (8 ounces), picked over and rinsed

2 bay leaves

1 zucchini (8 ounces), quartered lengthwise and sliced ¼ inch thick

2 tomatoes (12 ounces), cored and cut into ½inch pieces

6 ounces baby spinach (6 cups)

½ cup grated parmesan cheese (1 ounce), plus extra for serving

Salt and pepper

Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, carrots, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.

Stir water, chickpeas, remaining cup broth and bay leaves into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chickpeas are tender, 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.

Stir in zucchini, cover and cook on high until tender, 20-30 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Stir in tomatoes and spinach and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in parmesan. Before serving, season with salt, pepper, additional extra-virgin olive oil and additional Parmesan to taste.

Makes six cups; enough for 1 pound of pasta.

“Slow Cooker Revolution” (America’s Test Kitchen, 2011)

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