Tapas Time… Bite sized stories you can create right in your own home… Espinacas con garbanzos! Recreate this classic traditional tapa from Seville. This Andalusian favorite will win your heart right off the bat. Spinach and chickpeas in the sexiest, most exotic form.
Warm, cozy, earthy tones of cumin and smoked paprika along with a dash of garlic, sweet raisins and sprinkled with almond slivers. Top it off with a generous drizzle of some good olive oil. All this in 15 minutes. It’s going to be love at first bite with this Espinacas con garbanzos… Big time!!
Hola guys. How you have been doing? Recently GypsyPlate has been a little plain, with all the quarantine pantry staple foods like ramen and salmon patties. So today I decided to cook you this cracker of a tapas from one of my favorite countries… Spain!!
I went backpacking in the south of Spain, then Barcelona and Mallorca a decade back. I loved everything about Spain, but have some fond memories of those hilly white washed Andalusian small towns and villages speckled on the Mediterranean.
Fast forward a decade and I still remember their quaint little tapas bars and restaurants lining the streets, very popular with locals and tourists alike. I gorged on their tapas in wide different varieties. Food was a riot… Of course there will be many Spanish delicacies coming to GypsyPlate, but these chickpeas came first into my mind. A simple, humble mix of a few little ingredients, there are few things as delicious as this!
What is Tapas?
“Tapa”, singular to plural Tapas, is not any particular type of food. Anything can be tapas, simple croquettes, ham and cheese on toast, meatballs, piping hot chorizo sausage or Gambas al Ajillo (Spanish garlic shrimp), as long as it’s small portions and comes on small plates.
They are normally served with drinks. They could be cold and simple, like marinated olives, or hot and elaborate. The most common story behind the origin of tapas is that they started out as small slices of meat or bread served in bars that patrons could use to cover their drinks to keep the flies out.
“Tapas” is the Spanish verb for “to cover”. Slowly but surely, the small bar snack started becoming just as essential as the drinks. They also started becoming more elaborate.
Coming to this dish… What is Espinacas con Garbanzos?
Simply translated, spinach with chickpeas (sometimes it is the other way around, garbanzos con espinacas). This is tapa at it’s best. You will see many variations throughout Spain, ranging from slightly soupy to almost sauce-less like mine.
It is especially beloved in Seville, the capital of the southern region of Andalusia. It’s nothing but a mix of chickpeas and spinach along with some spices and few other interesting add-ons.
This dish tells you a lot about Seville’s past, as none of it’s ingredients come from Spain. A twist on an Arabic recipe, this tapa dates back to the times of the Moors in Spain. Many of the ingredients were introduced from the Middle East, like chickpeas, spinach and even spices like cumin and paprika. Loaded with good nutrients and proteins, the meatless version is popularized by Spanish Catholic churches as a dish to eat during lent.
- Garbanzos (chick peas) – You would need soft and plump chick peas for this one. I recommend using Goya brand if you are using canned. They are cooked perfectly. If you use some other brand, you need to see if they are soft, otherwise boil them 15-20 minutes in water and strain before adding in the recipe. Sometimes I start from scratch and soak dried chickpeas overnight and cook them the next day in my pressure cooker with a little salt.
- Fresh spinach – Loads of this goodness can go in this dish. We love plenty, but you can use as much of this leafy green as you wish.
- Olive oil – To drizzle generously on the finished dish.
- Onion – I am using Spanish onion.
- Garlic – Goes great with everything.
- Tomato sauce – I just grind some canned diced tomatoes in my grinder, but canned sauce is fine as well.
- Spices – Cumin and smoked paprika. The warm, earthy tones of these Middle Eastern flavors is what makes it so classic.
- Raisins – Adds a hint of sweetness. You can use any color raisins.
- Slivered almonds – To top it off in the end. You can experiment with pine nuts instead, equally yum.
- Bacon – It’s so great when you brown this up in the beginning and stir it in at the end. You can skip it for a vegetarian or vegan option.
If you are using dry chickpeas, they need to be soaked overnight and cooked the next day with a little salt till soft. I recommend using Goya canned garbanzos for a super shortcut. Just drain them in a colander and you are ready to go.
Cut the bacon into small pieces (about one inch long) and fry them in a skillet over medium to medium high heat. Once they are brown and crisp, remove and set aside.
In the bacon fat, sauté sliced onion (I kept it big for my onion phobic husband, but you can chop it smaller) till soft. Add chopped garlic, stir in spice powders, and sauté for a minute.
Mix in tomato sauce and combine everything well.
Time for the garbanzos to go in. Sauté for a minute. Taste and add salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste, then mix in the raisins.
Stir in spinach and cook till slightly wilted. It’s ready… almost. Stir in bacon and serve this in a dish, top with slivered almonds and drizzle a generous amount of some good olive oil on top. Easy? Delicious? Oh yessss. Bring some crusty bread or crostini to the table… some nice red wine or chilled beer… and you are ready to share and start a great conversation over this tapa straight out of Seville.
How to Serve
We personally love this with some nice bread, sometimes as mains or just a small tapa. But this can go great as a side dish for some grilled fish or meat. Or you can serve it over some pasta or couscous.
If you are having some company and thinking of some tapas style spread, this will be a great feature.
Vegetarian. Many times vegetarians have a tough time finding a nice tapa option except some marinated olives, but this one is great if you skip the bacon in the beginning. Just cook everything in some nice olive oil. Don’t measure it, be generous! Even vegans will love it.
Try different nuts. You can use hazelnuts or pine nuts in place of almonds.
Want more meats? Instead of, or along with, the bacon, you can fry up some sausage. It adds a great meatiness to the dish. This variation makes a great one pot meal.
Some like it more soupy. Try more tomatoes and a dash of sherry or vinegar. Some variations are more like stew. It’s a very common practise make a paste of fried stale bread, garlic, spices and some vinegar and use this paste to thicken the stew. My version is drier and leans more towards appetizers than a stew, which could be a complete meal.
How to store leftovers?
You can keep any leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. You can eat it cold, but I prefer to heat it up in the microwave or on the stove top.
I hope you enjoyed reading about this ethnic and regional Spanish classic. We love to read your comments when you try our recipes. Keep on subscribing to GypsyPlate and show us your love and support. It surely is growing, all because of you… Thank you!!
Espinacas con Garbanzos, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Build your appetizer platter with these other tasty treats!
Gambas al Ajillo
German Sauerkraut Balls
Pico de Gallo
Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers
Shrimp de Jonghe
Garlic Butter Steak Bites
- 2 15.5 oz can garbanzos (chick peas)
- 5 cups fresh spinach
- 1 onion
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 strips bacon
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Cut bacon into 1 inch pieces and fry in skillet over medium high heat. When brown and crisp, remove from skillet and set aside. While bacon is cooking, slice onions and garlic.
- Add onions and sauté in bacon fat. Cook until soft and translucent.
- Stir in garlic, smoked paprika and cumin powder. Sauté one minute.
- Mix in tomato sauce and then garbanzos. Sauté for a minute, then add in raisins.
- Stir in spinach and cook a few minutes until wilted. If your skillet cannot accommodate all raw spinach at once, you can add it in batches.
- Stir in bacon, serve in a dish, drizzle with a generous portion of olive oil and garnish with slivered almonds.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 225Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 6mgSodium 271mgCarbohydrates 33gFiber 8gSugar 9gProtein 11g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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