Using the Harvest: Chickpea and Spinach Stew

I harvested the last of my Bordeaux spinach the other day and wanted to make something special.  You see it blessed us with abundance for about six weeks.  It just kept growing and growing.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as much spinach as this year.

This dish comes from José Andrés with a Moorish twist.  It was even better the second day.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew, Moorish-style

9 ounces dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

1 pinch baking soda

1/4 cup olive oil

6 to 8 medium to large garlic cloves, peeled

2 ounces of sliced bread, crusts removed (about 4, 1/2-inch slices of a baguette, but any bread will do)

2 tablespoons pimentón (Spanish sweet paprika)

1 pinch saffron threads

2 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar

1/2 pound spinach, washed

1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin

kosher salt, to taste

white pepper, to taste

Put the chickpeas and baking soda in a bowl and cover with cold water.  Set aside to soak overnight.  The next day, drain and rise the peas.

In a big sauce pan, combine the chickpeas with 2 1/2 quarts water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the chickpeas are tender, about 2 hours.  Every 20 minutes or so, check as you may want to add 1/4 cup of cold water to slow down the simmering.  By the end, the water should have reduced so it is barely covering the chickpeas.  Turn off the heat and let the chickpeas sit in the water.  See note at bottom.

Heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and cook until browned.  Remove the garlic from pan and set aside.  Add the bread and brown until just golden on both sides, about 1 minute.  Remove and set aside.

Remove pan from the heat and allow it to cool for a minute.  Add the pimentón and saffron to the pan,

then immediately stir in the sherry vinegar.

Leave pan off the heat.

In a mortar, smash the garlic and the toasted bread to make a very thick paste.

Bring chickpeas back to a simmer.  Add the spinach and simmer about 5 minutes.  Stir in the pimentón mixture and garlic paste.  You should have a thick, stewy sauce.  Simmer for another few minutes.  Season with salt and white pepper, to taste.  Serve in shallow bowls with large croutons (toasted pieces of baguette, sliced on the bias and brushed with olive oil work nicely).

Note: When chickpeas are cooked, you only want about 1/2-inch of water left in the bottom of the pot.  The water should just barely be covering the peas, plus a tad bit more.  You can also used canned chickpeas, but you’ll need to add a little water before you cook the spinach.

I’ve shown the La Bodega brand Sherry Vinegar from Jerez which I like, but there are others that are nice too.

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