Love all types of soups and stews, especially on a brisk day in the Windy City. If you are searching for an easy and hearty stew, look no further. This is a Catalan staple, and rightfully so. Traditionally made with spinach, although I think you can play around with other types of greens (kale, Swiss chard, arugula, etc.). If you can find baby versions of these greens, it’s preferable, as they are more tender then their full-grown counterparts.
The addition of toasted bread adds a rustic element and helps to thicken the stew, while the saffron perfumes the dish with its unmistakable presence. The sherry vinegar adds a nice brightness and acidity to the dish and the smoked hot paprika (by far my favorite spice; use it in just about anything) adds a welcome bit of smokiness and heat to the dish.
While saffron is a lovely addition, I typically don’t have it on hand and it’s quite expensive (it’s the word’s most expensive spice). That being said, I have made this dish without the saffron and it still has lots of good flavor.
This stew can be prepared ahead of time. It actually tastes even better a day or two later, when the flavors have had time to marry. This stew calls for a few slices of toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with a pinch of coarse sea salt — the ultimate garlic bread.
Top with a good pinch of hot smoked Spanish paprika…
Chickpeas and Spinach
Adapted slightly from Moro:The Cookbook
1 pound *baby spinach, washed
3 ounces white bread (used sourdough), crusts removed, cut into small cubes
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds,
1 small bunch fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1 small dried red chile, crumbled
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
A good pinch saffron, infused in 4 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
Sea salt and black pepper
If using dried chickpeas, drain the soaked chickpeas in a colander, rinse under cold water, then place in a large saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook 1 to 2 hours, or until tender. Remove the chickpeas from the heat, drain water until level with the chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat another couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Toast the bread until golden all over, then add the garlic, cumin, oregano, and chile, and cook 1 minute more, until the garlic is lightly brown.
Transfer to a mortar and pestle or a food processor along with the vinegar, and mash to a paste. Return the bread mixture to the pan along with the drained chickpeas and saffron-infused water. Stir until the chickpeas are hot and have absorbed the flavors of the bread mix and saffron water. Season with salt and pepper. If the consistency is a little thick, add a little water. Add in the spinach and cook until heated through.
Serve sprinkled with paprika and with fried bread on the side.
*Try with other baby greens such as Swiss chard, kale, arugula etc.