I first came across this recipe for Espinacas con Garbanzos (aka Chickpeas with Spinach) on Smitten Kitchen a few years ago. I think it was via Pinterest...? Anyway, it sounded good and like a relatively simple way to make a dish that included both a leafy green vegetable and some protein – the holy grail, right?
I went out and bought the ingredients, stashed them away in the fridge and promptly began to procrastinate. As the clock ticked down on the lifespan of the baby spinach I found myself allergic to the idea of dragging down my food processor and honestly under motivated to follow all the steps even though none of them are terribly time consuming or difficult.
I still wanted to make the recipe, just on my level of effort, so instead I came up with this version of Chickpeas with Spinach – now known as “The Chickpea Thing” in our household. It’s in the spirit of the SK recipe, but pared back to just the essential steps for those evenings when 10-15 minutes from start to finish is all the time or effort you can muster.
I’ve since made this as a vegetarian main dish, a side to accompany something meatier like grilled sausage, and have served it as an appetizer. Since this dish is already flirting along the Mediterranean by way of Italy and Spain I like to accompany it with toasted pita bread just to add another country to the mix.
Chickpeas with Spinach (serves 4-6)
2 cans (16 ounce) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 ounces fresh baby spinach, washedand dried
2 1/4 cups tomato sauce (I used Barilla basilico)
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 pitas, cut into wedges and toasted
Place a large, deep-sided sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. After just under a minute, when the olive oil is warm, but not hot add the minced garlic and sauté for one minute. While the garlic is cooking, drain the canned chickpeas in a sieve and rinse well with lukewarm water. Set aside.
Add the red pepper flakes to the sauté pan and cook for another 30 seconds then stir in the drained chickpeas coating well with the seasoned oil. Cook the chickpeas for 1-2 minutes until they begin to heat through, but do not brown or toast. Add the tomato sauce, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and use the flat side of a spatula to make sure any garlic or red pepper along the bottom of the pan is incorporated.
Once the sauce is hot and begins to simmer add the baby spinach leaves a handful or two at a time and fold into the sauce. As one handful wilts into the sauce add another until all the spinach is incorporated. Finish by stirring in the red wine vinegar and cooking another minute or two until all the ingredients are hot. Check the seasoning and add salt or pepper to taste. Serve with toasted pita wedges.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes and yes. I used a large, deep-sided sauté pan, one medium cutting board, a sieve, and one chef’s knife. I also used a can opener, liquid measuring cup and measuring spoons along with a wooden spatula and a rubber spatula.
I really like this dish and I was surprised when it turned out that Mike liked it too. The chickpeas lend a substance and texture that make me forget I’m eating neither carbs nor meat. The simplicity of the seasonings is deceptive - red pepper, garlic and red wine vinegar, salt, black pepper – add so much depth of flavor and spice that this dish is never boring. Extra bonus – it reheats really nicely, so leftovers never go to waste!