Smoky Spanish Spinach and Chickpeas

Spanish Summer.jpg

As you might guess from the name of this blog, Spicebox Travels, I adore cooking with spices.  This is not only for the way in which they enhance the flavors of food, but also how they evoke different places and cultures.  And from a health perspective, they were were our first medicines (with the most obvious example being the Indian medical system of Ayurveda).

I had the wonderful opportunity to talk a bit about some of my favorite spices (and some other Secret Ingredients) in a recent article in Reader’s Digest.  The first one I discuss is Pimenton, or smoked paprika.  This spice, which can range in flavor from sweet to spicy, is derived from peppers, which are dried and then powdered.  The extra step of smoking the peppers adds umami and an almost meaty depth.  For vegan or vegetarian meals, this can add another layer of flavor that is almost bacon-y.

In this recipe for spinach and chickpeas, which I presented at the recent Thrive Kitchen Spanish Summer class, Pimenton is a spice traditionally used, as in much of Spanish cuisine.  I love the flavor and also the color contrast when it’s sprinkled on top as a garnish.  Salud!

Smoky Spanish Spinach and Chickpeas

Spanish Chickpeas.jpg

This is a classic tapas dish in Andalucia.  This is a very satisfying plant based  recipe with robust flavor from the garlic and spices.  It can be served hot or warm, with toasted rustic bread if desired.  Add a simple green salad (and maybe some gazpacho on the side) and you have your perfect summer dinner.

Serves: 4 as an entrée, 8 as an appetizer


2 cans no salt added garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

10 ounces fresh spinach

2 thick slices of day old bread, crusts removed and cubed

3 garlic cloves, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Ground cayenne pepper (to taste)

2 Tablespoons Sherry or red wine vinegar

¾ tsp Kosher salt

Black pepper (to taste)

1 tsp Pimenton (smoked paprika)


  1. Warm 2 T of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat .
  2. Add spinach and sauté until just wilted. Remove to strain in a colander.
  3. Add another 1-2T of olive oil to the pan and add the bread. Fry until the bread is browned and crispy on each side.
  4. Lower heat to low and add the chopped garlic, cumin, cayenne and black pepper and sauté for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.
  5. Transfer the ingredients to a blender/food processor and add the sherry vinegar and ½ c water.
  6. Blend the ingredients together until you have a thick paste.
  7. Return the paste to the saucepan and add chickpeas.
  8. Stir gently until the chickpeas are fully coated by the sauce and add additional water, if needed to thin.
  9. Add the spinach and stir gently until evenly incorporated.
  10. Season with salt and pepper and smoked paprika and stir again.
  11. Serve hot or warm, and garnish, if desired, with a drizzle of additional olive oil and sprinkle of additional smoked paprika.


Nutrition Info per serving (appetizer size):

Cal 212, Fat 8 g, Protein 7 g, Sodium 288 mg, Sugar 2 g


The Thrive Kitchen has some exciting classes coming up! The next class is on 8/22: Back to School Lunch and Easy Weeknight Cooking (which means that summer is almost over). And coming up just a few weeks after that is a class to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month: Healthy Mexican Food, on 9/5.  Registration opens on 8/5 for that class: email  Details are available on my healthy cooking community on Facebook, Please stop by for more information and give it a “Like”!





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