Monday, February 17, 2014

Espinacas Con Garbanzos

My friend Erin is in living in Barcelona (so jealous!) and is loving all the delicious Catalan foods that she is sampling over there.  Luckily, we get a little peak into her Barcelona kitchen to enjoy one of her favorite new recipes that she learned in Spain.  You can follow more about Erin's adventure on her blog  Thanks, Erin!

Hola guapos! I'm Erin, DC area native and long time fan of CSK. (Emily, you are my Thanksgiving feast spirit guide.) I've been spending the last year in Barcelona, Spain, learning the language, culture and food. What I love so much about the food here is that the dishes are almost always simple and fresh. They have truly mastered how to bring out the best qualities of individual ingredients. The Mediterranean climate is perfect for growing most fruits and vegetables year round, which means the markets are always stocked with delicious, fresh and cheap produce.
This is my all time favorite place to buy my fruits & veggies. It's located about 50 meters from my front door, has great quality and is dirt cheap. You know a place is good when it is regularly swarmed with older Catalan ladies.
Santa Caterina market is one of the most famous in the city (2nd to La Boqueria) and is less than a five minute walk away. You can find just about anything you would want in here.
My preferred produce stand in Santa Caterina. If you are traveling to a European market that is frequented by tourists, go past the first few stalls and find the gems hidden in the middle and the back. They will be more affordable and frequented by the locals.
Here's the view from my kitchen. A faltering herb garden (hey, not bad for February) lots of trees, old buildings and a playground.

I present to you one of my favorite dishes, espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with chickpeas), which can be served tapas style over bread, as a side dish to grilled pork/fish/chicken, or on its own for a quick lunch. This particular recipe serves 6-8, so feel free to cut it in half as it does not taste quite as good leftover the next day.
Espinacas Con Garbanzos (Adapted from Jose Andres)
2 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1/4 cup EVOO, then extra for drizzling
5 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1 lb fresh spinach, washed and stems removed
Medium sized slice of hearty bread, crust removed
2 tablespoons paprika, I used the Smoked Spanish variety from Penzeys
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
1.  Place chickpeas in a large stockpot, cover with cool water, just enough to cover them. Place on medium heat to warm up while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Heat 1/4 cup EVOO in a small skillet over medium heat. Brown the garlic cloves for 3 min, then set in a bowl. Brown the bread in the same skillet, 1 min each side.
Place the bread in the bowl with the garlic. Remove the skillet from heat, allow to cool for a few minutes.
This would be better with a mortar & pestle, but I had an ice cream scooper. Worked just fine. Expats gotta be resourceful.
3. Mash the bread & garlic for several minutes to make a thick paste. Add a bit of EVOO as needed to get the desired consistency.
4. Add paprika, cumin, vinegar to semi-cool skillet, mix and allow to sit
5. Bring chickpeas to a low boil. Add spinach, one handful at a time, pausing in between to press into the water. Simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Add paprika mixture and garlic/bread paste to chickpeas & spinach, creating a thick stewy sauce. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally mashing some of the chickpeas.
7. Add sea salt and pepper to taste
8. Serve immediately on slices of baguette, tapas style, or as a side dish to grilled fish, chicken or pork.

For more musings about expat life, feel free to check my blog:

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