An Interlude: Spinach and Chickpeas

21 Nov

I'm sure the Top Chef judges would fault my plating

First of all, because I’m sure at least some of you are wondering, let me reassure you that Roxie’s Thanksgiving dinner was a great success. The pie was awesome and made me very excited to get home and get baking for real Thanksgiving, and the rest of the dinner was delicious too. (The turkey came out perfectly, though I think they still had approximately half a bird left at the end of the night.)

I was craving something a little lighter in between that huge meal and the long weekend of eating that is in front of me, though, and this chickpea and spinach dish came to mind immediately. It’s hearty and flavorful, but also doesn’t make me feel like I’ve stuffed myself. It’s also made almost entirely of items I keep in stock, which is always a bonus. I think it makes a perfect lunch dish, except for the fact that it takes a little longer to make than I usually have for lunch– but it reheats really well, and I got three servings out of this recipe (which I halved from the original), when stretched with some toast.


The toast, mashed up as best I could

As Deb notes in the original, this is a very flexible recipe. I would say to add more spinach than you think you want, because it always shrinks so much. Add the spices conservatively, as there’s always time later on to taste and add more– one of the advantages of cooking without meat is it’s easy to taste-test! And don’t worry, we’ll get back to heavily-caloric Thanksgiving recipes without much ado.

Spinach and Chickpeas (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Equipment: Large saucepan, wooden spoon, food processor (optional), colander


2 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 pound (225 g) spinach, washed

1 slice brown bread

1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Pinch of red pepper flakes or  chili powder

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup tomato sauce (This time I used plain tomato sauce that you can find in little cans, last time I just used pasta sauce I had around. Both worked fine.)

1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Juice of half a lemon


Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. When it is hot, add the spinach with a pinch of salt (in batches, if necessary) and stir well. Remove when the leaves are just tender, drain in a colander and set aside.

Remove crusts from bread and cut into small cubes. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat (I just used the same saucepan). Fry the bread for about 5 minutes or until golden brown all over, then add the remaining half-tablespoon of oil and the garlic, cumin and red pepper. Cook for 1 minute more or until the garlic is nutty brown.

Transfer to a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle along with the vinegar, and mash to a paste, or just bang it around with a wooden spoon off the heat until fairly mushy. Return the mixture to the pan and add the drained chickpeas and tomato sauce. Stir until the chickpeas have absorbed the flavors and are hot. Season with salt and pepper.

If the consistency is a little thick, add about 1/4 cup of water. Add the spinach and cook until it is hot. Check for seasoning and serve with paprika on top, or on toast.


2 Responses to “An Interlude: Spinach and Chickpeas”

  1. Michael Elliott November 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    I think you could also make this dish with kale.

  2. Roxie November 22, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    I have all the ingredients for this but since I’m leaving tomorrow I don’t need leftovers. Boo. Also we did eat most of the turkey- people kept carving pieces as the night went on and we only had the dark meat left the next day. Turkey success!

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