This Spanish chickpeas and spinach is a classic tapas dish that’s easy to make and wonderfully versatile. Simple, hearty vegan comfort food.
So after my delicious roast lamb earlier in the week I decided to get a bit more in the Easter mood. I considered another baking project but for some reason or another nothing was grabbing me and I was more in the mood for a savory dish. You might have seen I have been on a slight Spanish food kick recently, with things like romesco sauce.
Since Spain is also where I have some of the best Easter memories from, I had a look at Spanish dishes for Easter and came across this delicious Spanish chickpeas and spinach (garbanzos con espinacas) which sounded perfect.
Easter in Spain
Technically this isn’t an Easter dish as such, but more of a tapa for any time, but it is traditional not to eat meat on Good Friday and this is a commonly eaten dish then, particularly in the South where it originates. The South is also where some of the most impressive Easter celebrations take place, so all round it seemed fitting. If you haven’t witnessed Holy Week in Southern Spain, it’s quite a sight.
True, the outfits are a little reminiscent of the KKK, but remember these came many centuries earlier and some of the colored hoods are beautiful, in deep greens and purple velvet. There are processions through the streets of all the major towns that can take hours as huge heavy alterpieces are taken to and from the local churches to the main cathedral to be blessed. It’s a somber but impressive sight. Then imagine going home or to a bar and having this tasty dish.
Whether eaten for Easter or not, this dish is like many in Spain: without too many ingredients but the result is delicious. It draws on the Moorish influence in the South and I can just picture eating it in a nice little tapas bar with some crusty bread to pile it on in one hand, and a beer in the other, watching the world go by.
True, these days I’d more likely be watching my toddler wasn’t getting into too much trouble but it’s nice to remember more peaceful times sometimes.
How it’s made
As I said, these chickpeas and spinach are not complicated and don’t take long to cook up. The only moderately complicated bit is you gently cook the bread and garlic then mush it up with some vinegar, either by hand with a pestle and mortar or in a small food processor, before adding it back in with the rest of the ingredients. A little water helps make a little sauce rather than clumps, though this is not a truly ‘saucy’ dish.
Tomato is technically not traditional, but it is pretty common in variations of this dish and both adds a little color and flavor. More traditionally, the color would be from saffron but to me it’s a bit expensive to add into this where the other flavors would dominate it.
See how easy it is to make in this short video:
These make a great side dish with many meals, but they’d also be great with other tapas dishes. For example try these:
- pinchos morunos (aromatic spiced pork kebabs)
- white wine marinated steak with blue cheese
- Spanish cheese plate.
Spanish chickpeas and spinach is a lovely, tasty dish, that’s hearty enough to work as a main with something as simple as a bit of bread. It also works well as a tapas alongside other dishes or as an appetizer or side. Versatile, easy, healthy and vegan – there are so many reasons to give this a try.
Spanish chickpeas and spinach
- 15 oz chickpeas 425g, 1 can
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5 oz fresh spinach 150g, tough stems removed and roughly chopped if not baby spinach
- 1 slice bread slightly stale, sourdough works well
- 1 clove garlic 2 if small
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika sweet (Spanish), not hot
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 4 tbsp water approx
- 1 tbsp tomato paste tomato puree
- salt and pepper
- Drain the chickpeas, rinse well and remove any loose skins.
- Remove the crusts from the bread and dice relatively small. Skin but don't chop the garlic (except in half if one large clove).
- Warm 1tbsp olive oil in a pan and saute the spinach until it wilts, in batches if need be, then remove and set aside.
- Add the other 1tbsp of oil to the pan and add the garlic and chunks of bread. Cook until gently brown on both sides then remove from the pan to either a mortar or small food processor.
- Add the cumin, paprika and vinegar to the bread and crush/pulse until smooth. You can add around 2tbsp of water as you go to help make it easier to break up.
- Return the bread mixture to the pan along with the chickpeas, spinach (holding back any excess liquid that has come out) and the tomato paste and gently warm. Add another 2 or 3tbsp of water to loosen the sauce so it will mix. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste then serve.
Try these other tasty tapas:
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