About the Recipe
A simple rustic stew of dark green, velvety spinach (or Swiss chard) and earthy golden chickpeas are cooked in a flavourful tomato sauce. Both spinach and chickpeas were introduced to Spain in the Middle Ages by the Moors and adopted and cooked for centuries by the Jews in Andalusia. This dish was lightly spiced with a Spanish smoked sweet paprika - Pimenton de la Vera. Espinaca Con Garbanzos is still a staple in Spain, served as a Tapas appetizer or as a side dish to grilled foods or even as a vegan main dish accompanied with white rice pilaf.
Home cooks in the East Mediterranean make similar renditions fragrant with fresh dill, lemon juice and often a touch of cumin. This delicious version is served with a slab of Greek feta cheese and lots of crusty bread.
Pazi kon garvanso, as it is known in Ladino, often appears at the Sephardic New Year’s table as spinach symbolizes newness and chickpeas augur fullness and hope for the coming year.
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 2 large onions, chopped 2 cloves garlic, sliced 2 x 400g (14oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes 1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1⁄2 tsp Pimenton de la Vera or sweet paprika or ground cumin (optional) sea salt, freshly ground black pepper 1kg (21⁄4lb) fresh spinach, coarse stalks removed and torn into pieces or Swiss chard, rinsed, dried, stalks removed and shredded into 1.25cm (1⁄2in) ribbons 1⁄2 cup hot vegetable broth or water 1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh dill 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
To serve: Additional extra-virgin olive oil, lemon wedges and feta cheese (optional).
Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large, shallow, heavy-based pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and season with salt and pepper. Add Spanish paprika or cumin if using. Pile about two-thirds of the spinach on top of the chickpeas and tomatoes. Cover and continue cooking for about 6 minutes or until the spinach has cooked down. Stir in the remaining spinach with 1 tbsp olive oil, dill and lemon juice. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Shake the pan to distribute the ingredients evenly but do not stir. Add hot broth or water if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve in a shallow dish with additional extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle, lemon wedges and feta cheese (optional).
Stella’s hint for the chickpeas: * I prefer to use dried chickpeas for better flavour. Prepare by soaking 1 cup dried chickpeas (250g/9oz) overnight in twice their volume of cold water, then drain and rinse. The next day cook the chickpeas: Place the chickpeas in a large pan with enough cold water to cover by 2.5cm (1in). Add a small onion, 2 bay leaves and 3 sage leaves. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 11⁄2 - 2 hours or until the chickpeas are tender but not mushy. Check frequently as they cook, adding more hot water as necessary. When the chickpeas are tender, drain and discard the onions and herbs.
Twist on Tradition: ◊ Spinach with rice (pazi kon grano): Spinach and chickpeas cooked with rice becomes a complete one-pan meal. When all the spinach and chickpeas are cooked, make a hollow in the centre of the stew with a wooden spoon. Add 1⁄2 cup of washed and drained long grain rice. Pour in 1 cup hot water with 1⁄2 tsp salt. Cover and simmer until the rice is cooked and has absorbed the liquid. Serve in the pan.