Why It Works
- Simmering canned chickpeas with tomatoes and several aromatic ingredients amps up their flavor while keeping the cooking time relatively short.
- Puréeing half of the canned tomatoes and chopping the rest gives the dish a chunky and varied texture.
- Finishing the dish with olive oil adds richness and a sprinkle of sherry vinegar adds bright, complex acidity.
Restaurant fare is complex and time consuming to make. Understandable. That's why you pay a lot for it. But bringing some of that flavor home needn't be either.
This chickpea and spinach stew is based off of the garbanzos con espinacas that I used to make with Chef John Critchley over at Toro in Boston. It's about as classic a Spanish bar snack as there ever was and you'll find it all over Spain flavored with everything from smoky chorizo and rich morcilla (blood sausage) to simpler preparations served with nothing but a spritz of bright vinaigre de Jerez.
At the restaurant, we'd painstakingly make vegetable stock, brine beans, sweat aromatics, braise spinach, and crush olives under the hooves of real live Spanish burros to drizzle over the finished dish. At least, we did most of that stuff. Painstakingly tasty is how I'd describe that kind of food. At home, I'm happy to take a couple of shortcuts.
This vegan version, which ends up somewhere between a soup and a stew, relies on canned chickpeas and their liquid for body, but giving them a bit of a simmer with some aromatics—garlic, onion, bay leaf, and smoked paprika—adds a ton of flavor back to them (for more on that technique, check out this article on 30-minute bean soups). The unique part is the bit of ginger added into the puréed tomatoes. It's not enough to make itself obvious, but just enough to add a bit of complex heat to the saucy backbone of the dish.
It's great served hot in a bowl as is, but to be honest, I actually like it better on the second day, served room-temperature on top of slices of dark toast drizzled with olive oil. Perfect fare for when you want to act all cool, sophisticated, and suave at that Spanish wine tasting you're going to host. Or something like that.
One (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
One 1-inch knob ginger, peeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for serving)
1 medium onion, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 teaspoon sweet or hot smoked paprika
12 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Sherry vinegar for serving (optional)
Drain tomatoes in a metal strainer set over a medium bowl. Transfer liquid and half of tomatoes to a blender along with ginger. Blend on high speed until completely puréed. Set aside. Roughly chop remaining peeled tomatoes and set aside separately.
Heat olive oil in a large straight-sided skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and very slightly browned. Add tomato-ginger purée (it should immediately start simmering) and stir to combine. Add spinach a handful at a time, allowing each handful to wilt before adding the next. Reduce heat to medium and allow spinach mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally, until spinach is completely tender, about 10 minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes, garbanzo beans (with their liquid) bay leaves, and soy sauce, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a bare simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened into a thick stew, about 30 minutes total.
Season to taste with kosher salt and serve immediately, drizzling with extra-virgin olive oil and a few drops of sherry vinegar.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 2 to 3|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 27g||34%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||16%|
|Total Carbohydrate 80g||29%|
|Dietary Fiber 24g||84%|
|Total Sugars 20g|
|Vitamin C 72mg||358%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|