Having a Spanish partner means not only finding curious similarities with the traditional Sardinian cooking (Sardinia was a Spanish colony for centuries, and this becomes evident at the dinner table), but, more importantly, it means exploring the differences. For example I am particularly fascinated by the influence that the Arabs had on Spanish culture and cuisine. This dish is a popular Sevillian tapa, in which the cumin seeds and paprika will titillate your palate: these spices makes this very simple dish an unforgettable starter for your guests and a perfect dinner fix when all you have at home is cans and spinach!
This recipe makes enough for 2 main portions or 4 starter portions; it takes roughly 30 minutes to make.
200g chickpeas boiled in salted water (or canned)
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 slice of bread
some extravirgin olive oil
some vinegar (either wine or balsamic, as you prefer)
salt and pepper to taste
If you are using dried chickpeas instead of the canned ones, remember that before boiling them you have to let them soften up in water overnight. Then boil them in salted water for 1.5 hours or more, till they are cooked but not at a mushy consistency.
Step 1: Start by simmering the spinach into salted water for about 10 minutes. Then drain and put them aside.
Step 2: Coat a frying pan with extra virgin olive oil and fry the garlic and the slice of bread in the oil until the garlic is golden and the bread is also golden brown on both sides. Put the garlic and the bread into a hand blender container and once the oil has cooled down a little, add some of the oil to the container. With the hand blender reduce the bread and garlic into crumbs. Be careful not to let it become creamy by over-blending the mixture.
Step 3: In the remaining oil (if it’s still too much take some away) add a teaspoon of paprika and let it fry just a little, so the oil becomes completely red. Then add the spinach and the crumbs, mix it up and let it fry for a minute or so. Add the cumin seeds, mix again and add the chickpeas. Lastly add the vinegar to your liking, and some black pepper, if you wish.
Step 4: To accompany when you are serving up, make more fried bread. Put some extravirgin olive oil into a frying pan and fry the bread till golden brown. Serve up the spinach and chickpeas onto plates, stick the fried bread on the side, and you are ready to enjoy! It’s so easy, let me know if you try it!