I LOVE this dish. Simple, but flavoursome and healthy. Mop up juices with some home made focaccia. Although Beetroot Leaves have been used here, it can also be made with Spinach, Chard or other Greens.
The chickpeas are soaked with bicarb soda to make them achingly tender when cooked. The greens are cooked with a tomato base with some wine (see the notes below the recipe for an alternative) and mixed with the chickpeas.
Here is how to cook the softest chickpeas.
Chickpeas and Spinach (or other Greens) with Chilli
This makes quite a lot, about 5 – 6 servings, so you might consider making half
175g dried chickpeas
1 clove garlic
6 Tblspn olive oil
small bunch spinach, or leaves from 2 bunches of beetroot, or other greens
sea salt and black pepper
1 red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, cut into small pieces
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
2 dried chillies, diced small, or to taste
250 ml white wine
2 Tblspn tomato paste with a cup water OR 1 cup home made tomato sauce/paste/puree
2 handfuls parsley or coriander leaves
2 Tblspn lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
2 Tblspn bicarb soda
Beforehand: Soak the chickpeas overnight in a generous amount of water with the bicarb soda. Drain, and place in a saucepan with the garlic, 1 Tblspn of the olive oil and enough water to cover generously.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Watch during the cooking process in case more water is required. Keep in the liquid until ready to use.
Blanch the washed beetroot greens and chop coarsely.
At the time: Heat the remaining oil in a large pan and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook slowly for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Season with the salt, pepper and chilli.
Pour in the wine and reduce almost completely. Add the tomato paste and water, or the tomato sauce, and reduce until thick.
Drain the chickpeas, and then add with the beetroot leaves to the pan and mix. Season and cook for 10 minutes, adding a little water if necessary.
Add 3/4 of the parsley or coriander leaves, and the lemon juice. Mix. Serve sprinkled with the remainder of the leaves and a little extra virgin olive oil.
Good with rice, focaccia or flatbread to soak up the sauce.
Use chickpeas that have been pre-cooked and frozen to save time.
The flavour content of this dish can be tailored to the moment in your kitchen. Add some fresh chillies and/or a little home made chilli paste for a different heat kick. A little roasted garlic could be added to give some added depth to the dish. These are not necessary, but this recipe if versatile and you can add things that might be on your Kitchen Bench at the time.
While the recipe asks for 2 Tblspns tomato sauce or tomato paste, you can add a lot lot more. The rule of thumb would be — if you are using a really thick tomato paste, then 2 Tblspns will be enough. If you are using a home made, less reduced tomato paste, add as much as you think will provide the flavour balance that you require. (If you don’t have any tomato paste or tomato sauce, add a tin of crushed tomatoes and cook it down. Or simply puree some tomatoes and add.)
I don’t often have wine in the house, so I will substitute with some verjuice together with some mirin to cut the acidity of the verjuice.
You can also use spinach in place of the beetroot leaves.
from the Spinach Series
- Aloo Palak – Potatoes in Spinach Gravy
- Narasihman’s Sweet Potato, Eggplant and Spinach Madras Curry
- Makhana Palak – Lotus Seeds in Spinach Gravy
- Palak Pachadi (Spinach and Yoghurt)