During my brief 2-month stay in Madrid, I savored, devoured, and praised my madre, Margarita's, paella every time she made it. Unfortunately, my experience with all other Spanish food was not quite as romantic. This tapas recipe for espinacas con garbanzos (Spinach and Chick Peas) absolutely changes that. If there's one thing I remember about Spanish cooking in the home I lived, it's the liberal use of the amazing ingredient of olive oil. The Diaz family stored a pallet of olive oil in their basement and probably went through about 2 bottles a week. While this does not require TOO much olive oil, it does use it liberally, which is one thing that makes this dish distinctly Spanish.
2 15 oz. cans of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
6-8 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 - 3/4 lb. fresh spinach
1 baguette french bread
1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used tomoto soup because it's all I had in my kitchen.)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1-1/2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (or regular vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper
lemon juice to taste
Cut french bread loaf into 3/4 inch slices, saving one hefty slice. Arrange slices on a pan and brush tops with olive oil. Toast in 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Heat 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and add fresh spinach with a pinch of salt. Heat until leaves are wilted. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Using the hefty slice from the french bread loaf, remove the crust, cut into cubes and fry over 2 Tablespoons olive oil, about 5 minutes or until golden-brown all over. Then add remaining tablespoon of oil, garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes (if using). Cook for about 1 more minute, or until garlic is a nutty brown color.
Transfer to a food processor or blender, and blend until consistency is like a paste. Return to the pan. Add drained chickpeas and tomato sauce. Stir until the chickpeas have absorbed the flavor and are hot. Season with salt and pepper. If the consistency is a little thick, add some water. Add spinach and cook until heated through.
Serve on toasted french bread. Delicious!!