Thoughts Of Spain

I cooked two Spanish meals this week, maybe subconsciously I was thinking of Spain and the pain it is going though. After a brief 2 day visit to Madrid in 2018 I had hoped for an extended trip this Autumn, visiting a friend living there and really exploring this wonderful city and Spain’s culinary traditions. Whether from sympathy or in lieu of a Spanish sojourn I’m not sure but I find myself gravitating to Casa Iberica, a shop dedicated to all things from the Iberian peninsula. I’ve discovered that tinned sardines are excellent when paired with the Italian dish, caponata and that there are numerous sorts of chorizo, cured varieties and ones you need to cook before use. I found that a little bit from a tin of chipotle peppers in adobo, a dark, herby tomato sauce, adds a fantastic earthy dimension to guacamole. I’m also pouring over Claudia Roden’s book, The Food of Spain and revisiting a favorite dish of meatballs cooked in a sauce made with ground almonds, a legacy of Spanish Jewish cookery. Here is another dish that makes use of your stock of pulses, this time chickpeas. It is a simple, healthy dish with a good dose of spinach, which I latched onto when watching The Wild Gourmets, a programme about an English couple traveling around and living off the land in Spain. It was cooked over an open camp fire, so it is a rustic one pot dish that is easy to prepare at home without the wood smoke getting in your eyes. Adapt it however you like, using canned or dried chickpeas, adding capsicum, currants or crumbled chestnuts or not but the chorizo is non negotiable.

Chickpeas with Chorizo and Spinach

For two as a meal or as part of a tapas spread

  • I purple onion, diced
  • I mild or spicy chorizo
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 large carrot, cut into bit sized pieces
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • handful currants
  • 400 g cooked chickpeas or canned chickpeas
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbs Spanish sherry vinegar
  • handful crumbled chestnuts (optional)
  • 1 bunch spinach, well washed and dried*
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Gently sauté the onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt. Cut the chorizo into half moon, thick slices and add to the onions and gently sauté to bring out the spicy paprika in the sausage. Add the bay leaves, thyme, carrots, celery and currants and stir. Sauté for approximately 15 minutes to soften the carrot. Sprinkle with sherry vinegar and cook for a few minutes, then add the chickpeas and paprika and toss to warm through. Add the spinach leaves on top. The heat from the pan will wilt them quickly. The dish can absorb a large amount of spinach leaves, so don’t be alarmed by the volume. Fold in the wilted spinach leaves and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Season and serve at room temperature.

* To avoid adding water to the dish dry the spinach leaves in a salad spinner or wrap in a clean tea towel to absorb the water.

add the spinach leaves on top of the cooked chickpeas and chorizo