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Spinach and Chickpea casserole




Beans and Pulses are everyday food all over Spain. Different regions have there different versions of cocidos (with chickpeas) and potajes (with lentils or beans).

As this is everyday food it is unusal to find these dishes on menus unless you find yourself in a restaurant that is serving a "menu del día" and as it is then produced in vast quantities the quality can be a little suspect!

My mother-in-law was horrified when I suggested she made a cocido one Sunday lunch when my Mum was visiting, but she did do and she really enjoyed watching my Mum enjoy what she considered nothing very special!

This recipe isn't a cocido - which really is too heavy a meal to serve for dinner but it is also a very popular dish.
I like to add a little fried chorizo on the top, or served on the side as it is an excellent dish to serve vegetarians.

For 4 people you will need:

½ kg Fresh Spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic – peeled and thinly sliced
1 thick slice of white bread with no crusts
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
¾ tspn whole cumin
1 tspn dried oregano
¼ tspn dried red chilli
450g of cooked chickpeas
Olive oil
Salt, black pepper

If using dried chickpeas soak 250g overnight and cook in pressure cooker for 8-10 mins at high pressure (check pressure cooker recipe book for times as this may differ) I often do 500g dried and freeze the other half unless I’m doubling up. Or use ready cooked tinned chickpeas.

In a pan large enough for the spinach, heat 2 tbspn olive oil and fry sliced garlic until golden, remove with slotted spoon to a pestle. Fry the bread in the same oil and once golden on both sides remove from pan and add to the garlic.

Add 1 tbspn olive oil to same pan and fry cumin, oregano and chilli for approx 30 secs (the cumin starts to smell strongly!). Add another tbspn olive oil and place spinach in the pan, stir well and cover with lid. Stir occasionally
While the spinach is cooking add the red wine vinegar and a tpsn of salt to the garlic and bread and pound to a paste.
Add the bread and garlic paste and the chickpeas to the spinach and mix thoroughly. Add some of the liquid from the chickpeas if it is too thick.
Season with salt and pepper and a bit of Spanish praprika.

A few slices of fried chorizo goes really well, you could also try frying pancetta. It is often served with fried bread too!