Braised Spinach with Chickpeas, Spanish Style

White or Green Chickpeas

White or Green Chickpeas

By Cat, June 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Includes: 1. Soupe au Pistou (2 Versions)

See also: 1. Cooked Chickpeas; 2. Chickpea (Garbanzo) & Spinach Casserole; 3. Braised Greens (About)4Beans & Other Legumes: Soaking & Sprouting5Vegetarian & Bean Menu

Chickpeas/garbanzos are one of the most nutritious of the legumes, providing all the essential amino acids needed by humans. Plus, compared with soy, their nutrients are way more bioavailable. They also cook faster than many legumes.

Garbanzos are very common throughout the Middle East, and have infiltrated most of Mediterranean cuisine; this dish, from Spain, is an example of this.

If you are in a hurry, you can use canned garbanzos, drained.  But I highly recommend cooking your own beans, after soaking them overnight, or sprouting them over 2 – 3 days.

This dish is served as a side dish, and is not vegetarian (bacon is used to flavor the dish), but you could eliminate the bacon. It is also not gluten-free, because of the use of toast in the spinach pesto; you could use a gluten-free bread if desired.

Braised Spinach with Chickpeas, Spanish Style

Spinach in November

Spinach in November

(Photo, left, from Wikimedia Commons)

This recipe is adapted from Fine (1). See also related recipe from France: Chickpea (Garbanzo) & Spinach Casserole.

I like to sprout my chickpeas before cooking, to maximize their nutritional value. But if you’re short on time, you can just soak them overnight before cooking. Another possibility is to soak/sprout a whole bunch of chickpeas, then cook and freeze them. I don’t recommend canning them, as it requires a pressure canner which mostly destroys all the nutritional value in the food.

Serves 6, as a side dish.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 ¾ cup Cooked Chickpeas (¾ cup dry), rinsed and drained
  • 20 oz. fresh spinach leaves (or chard)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 slices bacon
  • olive oil
  • 6 slices (¼” thick) crusty country bread or baguette
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sherry (or other wine) vinegar
  • unfiltered water
  • Saucepan (to cook chickpeas)
  • cast iron skillet



  1. Soak or sprout chickpeas 1 – 3 days ahead of when you want to serve this dish.
  2. Cook chickpeas until done. Rinse and drain.
  3. Wash spinach and drain. Remove stems, then coarsely chop the leaves.
  4. Remove papery peels from 3 of the garlic and leave them whole. Peel the other 3 and chop medium-fine.
  5. Heat some olive oil in skillet over medium heat, then add the bacon. Cook, flipping occasionally until golden and crisp, 6 – 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  6. Add 3 whole cloves garlic and bread to the pan; saute until garlic is tender and golden, and the bread is toasted to a deep golden on both sides, 4 – 5 minutes. Transfer garlic and 4 of the toasts to a mortar. Set aside the remaining toast on paper towel.
  7. Without rinsing out the skillet, add the chopped garlic and spices; add more olive oil if necessary. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, and garlic begins to brown (less than a minute). Increase heat to medium high and begin adding spinach in batches, stirring to wilt. When all is in the pan, add cooked chickpeas, 1 cup water, 1 tsp salt and several grinds of black pepper. Bring to a simmer.
  8. Meanwhile, mash bread slices and garlic in mortar with vinegar and 1- 2 Tbsp water until pureed. Stir this into the spinach, lower heat and simmer until liquid has reduced almost completely, but spinach is still moist, about 10 minutes.
  9. Crumble bacon and stir it in. Adjust seasoning. Crumble reserved toast over all just before serving.


  1. Fine (

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