If ever there were justification for cupboard love, this would be it: a full-on feast thrown together to enormous effect, simply with ingredients that you can more or less keep on permanent standby. And, like so many of these recipes, it's pretty well instant. After all, if you haven't got time to shop, it's hardly likely you'll be able to spend many hours at the stove.
I am, anyway, a huge fan of bulgar wheat - think couscous, only more robust - but cooked like this, with some strands of pasta tossed in hot oil first, it really has something extra. I was taught to do this, just chatting stoveside, by an Egyptian friend when I was in my twenties, and I've never seen any reason to change the drill. He, actually, didn't use torn-up spaghettini but, rather, lokshen, which are the short lengths of vermicelli customarily found in echt chicken soup.
This is a tradition about as far away from the chorizo-cooking culture as you could get, but the chickpea-studded, tomatoey and paprika-hot stew goes extremely well with the nubbly grain. I keep a stock of cherry tomatoes in sauce in the cupboard, but regular canned tomatoes could be substituted easily enough.
Warm the olive oil in a thick-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat.
Fry the pasta bits in the oil for a minute, stirring, until they look like slightly scorched straws. Then add the bulgar wheat and stir for another minute or two.
Stir in the cinnamon and the salt, and then pour the water into the pan. Add the bay leaves, and bring to a boil, then turn down to the lowest heat, add a lid, and leave for 15 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed.
Put another thick-bottomed saucepan on a medium heat, add the chorizo pieces and fry until the orange oil runs out. Then add the sherry and let it bubble away. Add the apricots (if using), along with the chickpeas (or beans) and canned tomatoes, and 3/4 fill each empty tomato can with water and swish it out into the pan. Put on a high heat to bubble for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve with the bulgar wheat and, if there's any to hand, some chopped cilantro.
The stew can be made up to 2 days ahead. Transfer to non-metallic bowl to cool, then cover and refrigerate as soon as possible. Reheat gently in large saucepan, stirring occasionally, until piping hot. The cooled stew can be frozen in airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator and reheat as above.
From Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson. Copyright 2010 Nigella Lawson. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved.