Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Moroccan Spinach and Chickpeas

This chickpea dish is very hearty and delicious, making it a perfect vegetarian dinner.  I cooked the chickpeas myself from dried chickpeas because I'd read that they're really different than canned chickpeas.  I was really happy with the results - I thought the chickpeas turned out with a better, nuttier flavor and a less mushy texture.  However, to make this a quick weeknight dish I think you could easily substitute canned chickpeas and still get a really good result.  Overall, the flavors of this dish were really interesting and not like other chickpea-spinach dishes I've had before.  The lemon is crucial - I thought the flavors felt a bit flat until I added it.  The smoked paprika is also a fantastic addition both in terms of color and flavor. 

I only had about half as much spinach as the original recipe called for and I definitely thought it could use more - I listed the full amount in the recipe below and I'd recommend using it all unless you're also low on spinach!  It's amazing how much spinach wilts down - it seemed like I had plenty until I steamed it!  For the bread, feel free to make substitutions - the original recipe called for a "country loaf", and I used homemade whole wheat bread.  I think any relatively hearty bread would work well here (you wouldn't want soft sandwich bread).

Moroccan Spinach and Chickpeas (adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Serious Eats, original recipes here and here)
Serves 3

9 ounces baby spinach
2 T olive oil
1 large slice (about 4 ounces) hearty whole wheat bread, cut into cubes
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 heaping tsp ground cumin
Large pinch red pepper flakes
1 T red wine vinegar
22 ounces cooked chickpeas (preferably cooked yourself, but canned are okay too)
1/2 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes, plus more as needed
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Smoked paprika

1. Steam the spinach until wilted.  Chop coarsely and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan over high heat.  Add the bread and and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes immediately.  Stir for one minute, either off the heat or over low heat as needed to slightly cook the garlic.
3. Scrape the mixture into a food processor and add the vinegar.  Process until the mixture forms a paste, and then return to the pot.  Add the chickpeas and tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, and add more crushed tomatoes as needed to moisten the mixture.
4. After about 5 minutes, add the spinach and lemon juice and stir to combine.  Once everything is warmed through, serve, sprinkled with smoked paprika.


  1. How lovely and healthy! And I've found that there was a difference between soaked dried chickpeas and canned too (although I admit I use canned when I haven't planned ahead) :)

  2. Looks great, lovely evening meal.

  3. I love recipes with chickpeas, definitely bookmarking this one!

  4. Simple and delicious! I always use canned chickpeas, time for a change!

  5. all your food looks so old-fashioned and delicious!

  6. I made this dish a while ago and have been meaning to do so again. Even my legume-hating boyfriend enjoyed this one and it surprised me how the little differences in ingredients made it taste so different from Indian tomato-based chickpea curries. I agree that chickpeas made at home have superior flavor and you can control the amount of salt. My only issue is that I never seem to get the same perfectly shaped results in the pressure cooker as from the can. As for the bread in this recipe, I used wheat as well and it's fantastic.