“Garbonzos con espinacas” (chickpeas with spinach) is a healthy dish popular in Sevilla, Spain and can be eaten alone or as a side dish or tapa. It uses ingredients commonly found in the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and uses olive oil as the main source of fat. Lower rates of heart disease and cancer are no-doubt connected to a diet so packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber!
Olive Oil: While there is no difference in calories from 1 tsp of butter and 1 tsp olive oil, their effects on your body are COMPLETELY different. Butter, solid animal fats, and the fat found in many processed junk foods are saturated fats, which are bad because they will raise your cholesterol, and this effect is heightened in combination with an unhealthy overall diet high in simple sugars. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which has one double bond and is liquid at room temperature. It is one of the two types of fats (the other is omega-3) that are actually beneficial and heart-healthy. Olive oil also has antioxidants and other beneficial plant-derived compounds. (Read more about choosing healthy fats)
Saffron: An exotic spice highly valued for its color, flavor, and medicinal properties. It has vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidant properties. Just a pinch can give rich flavor and color to an entire dish. It is used widely in Spanish cuisine in dishes like saffron rice and paellas. Studies suggest saffron combats depression, helps maintain memory and cognitive functioning, protects the liver, reduces risk of cancer, helps prevent/treat macular degeneration, and promotes good eyesight!
(Serves 4-5 people)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 2 tsp minced/chopped garlic
- 1 can chopped/diced tomatoes
- 2 tsp pimentón (Spanish paprika)
- ½ tsp cumin
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp cloves
- ¼ tsp saffron threads
- 1 tsp crushed peppercorn
- 2 cans cooked chickpeas plus liquid
- 1 lb washed baby spinach leaves
- Salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spices- pimentón, cumin, cayenne, and cloves.
In a small bowl, add saffron and peppercorns together and dissolve in 3 tbsp of water, which should turn bright yellow. Add to the saucepan with 2 cans of chickpeas. Cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Add spinach – at first it will seem like you are adding a TON of fresh spinach, but it wilts down drastically when it cooks. I first added half the pound and waited until it’s wilted to add the other half. Simmer for about 10 more minutes and add pepper and salt if necessary.
You can either serve this alone or with a side dish- I made saffron quinoa with balsamic mushrooms and bell peppers to pair it with. Another idea is a healthy toasted bread (my favorite is Ezekiel Flax Sprouted Whole Grain Bread).