Spinach with chickpeas

Espinacas con garbanzos –

A large green dish sits on a chopping board with a serving of spinach with chickpeas, beside a loaf of sliced white bread

Spinach with Chickpeas or ‘Espinacas con garbanzos’ in Spanish is a quick and easy tapas recipe and a favorite of many throughout Andalusia.  You’ll find it lovingly served in numerous tapas bars throughout Seville, with great care and dedication on display for such a humble dish. 

The best thing about Spinach with chickpeas is it’s super-easy to make with only 6 ingredients needed: Spinach, chickpeas, lots of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, sweet paprika, and salt (optional). Oh, and it’s vegan and super-delicious too!

Vegan | Vegetarian | Tapas Recipe | Easy Tapas Recipe | Made in an Hour | Healthy Tapas | One-Pot Recipe | Authentic Spanish Cuisine | Mediterranean 

Serving:

Tapas for 6 people

Ready In:

Prepare 15 minutes / cook 30 minutes

Skill Level:

Very Easy

 

Serve with:

Fresh bread

 

a chopping board sits with some garlic, chili flakes, bay leaves, and a plate of spices near some olive oil in a glass

Where did spinach with chickpeas originate?

 

Chickpeas were originally brought to Spanish cuisine by Ancient Persian (modern Iran) traders who southern regions of the Mediterranean, now known as Andalusia

This humble stew has evolved throughout the years, but the basic recipe has settled for just 6 ingredients needed to recreate this piece of culinary mastery. 

You’ll notice the spice cumin is used in this dish. While cumin is not typically associated with Spanish cooking and would normally be found collecting dust in the Spanish kitchen, it’s integral to this tasty stew.

What you’ll need to make spinach with chickpeas

  • 500 g cooked chickpeas 
  • 500 g Frozen spinach 
  • 4 Garlic cloves 
  • 2-3 Slices of dry white bread 
  • 1 tablespoon (5 g) ground cumin 
  • 1 tablespoon (5 g) ground coriander 
  • 1 tablespoon (5 g) sweet paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon (2 g) of chili flakes (ground)
  • 60ml/ 2 fl. oz. of ketchup 
  • 60ml/ 2 fl. oz. of apple cider vinegar 
  • Fresh water
  • 1cup (236ml/ 8 fl. oz.) of Extra virgin olive oil 
  • Salt (optional)
  • Pinch ground black pepper (optional)

Equipment needed

  • 1x 30cm/12-inch frying pan with deep sides (3 inches)

How to make spinach with chickpeas

Spinach with chickpeas is basically a vegan stew and this recipe is relatively easy to make and falls under the one-pot wonder category in our eyes! You can prepare it in under an hour and only use one large pot, which can also be used for serving if you’re making a main-meal portion. 

To make spinach with chickpeas, just follow the step-by-step instructions below in the recipe card section

How to serve spinach with chickpeas

It’s most common to find this dish serves as a tapas where it will usually be served in a small earthenware dish around 6-8 inches in diameter. It’s almost always served with a few good-sized slices of fresh bread to soak up the delicious sauce flavors. 

Optionally, spinach with chickpeas can be served as a delicious (and 100% vegan) main meal. We honestly make this dish around once a week during the winter and simply serve it straight from the cooking pot with some chunks of bread on the side.

Traditional ingredients for Spinach and Chickpeas in Spain

Here in Spain, Spinach and chickpeas are traditionally made with as few as 6 ingredients. You’ll find different variations of this dish all over the country, with a dense population of spinach and chickpea aficionados based out of Seville in the southern region of Andalusia.

In Seville, you’ll find plenty of tapas bars and restaurants avidly pedaling the various forms of the recipe in tapas bars all over town. 

Here, while rubbing shoulders with the locals of Seville’s tapas scene, you’ll hear distinct chatter of adding dried bread, almonds, and even tomatoes to bring new life to this incredibly diverse tapas dish.

No matter how it’s made, spinach with chickpeas is a fantastic tapas dish that’s quick and easy to make at home. 

a alrge bowl holds some chickpeas

Chickpeas

Besides tasting awesome, chickpeas are little mineral and protein superheroes! Chickpeas provide plenty of the nutrients we need.

One cup of chickpeas provides: 

  • 269 calories.
  • 14 grams of protein.
  • 4 grams of fat.
  • 12 grams of dietary fiber.
  • 80 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
  • 4.74 mg of iron.
  • 78.7 mg of magnesium.

Chickpeas are also packed with carbohydrates that slowly release energy after eating them.  This makes them very filling and healthy for your gut too. Win-win!

Best chickpeas to use

For this recipe, we have used tinned or prepackaged chickpeas that were purchased from our local supermarket. They’re cheap and already prepared so they save a lot of time.

If using tinned chickpeas, you’ll just need to give them a good rinse with fresh water first before using them in the recipe. 

Dried chickpeas

If you’re using dried chickpeas, then allow some extra time to prepare the dried chickpeas. 

  • First, soak the dried chickpeas in some clean fresh water overnight. The chickpeas will expand around twice their size so add around double the amount of water to chickpeas in a large bowl. 
  • Next, drain them from the water and add them to a pan with some fresh water. 
  • Cook them for around 2 hours for them to soften up. Alternatively, use a slow cooker or pressure cooker to prepare your chickpeas.

TOP TIP:

For dried chickpeas, every 1 cup of dried chickpeas makes 3 cups worth of cooked chickpeas. They expand quite a bit so make sure you use a pot big enough!

Spinach

Popeye knew it, as does every chef in Spain that Spinach is a superfood and is packed with nutrients and vitamins. For this recipe, We’re going to use frozen spinach. It’s cheap, easy to find, and easy to prepare! 

Spinach nutritional facts

(per 100-gram serving):

  • Just 7 calories.
  • 0.86 grams of protein.
  • 29.7 mg of calcium.
  • 0.81 g of iron.
  • 24 mg of magnesium.
  • 167 mg of potassium.
  • 141 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A.
  • 58 mcg of folate.

Frozen or fresh spinach? Which is healthier?

Honestly, if you’re buying fresh spinach, awesome! But if you are reaching for a bag of frozen spinach, that’s ok too. In fact, fresh spinach loses folate and vitamins quickly, whereas frozen spinach retains the nutrients that are frozen inside.

If your fresh spinach is more than a few days old, it’s likely to have already lost a fair amount of its nutritional value.

A bunch of spinach leaves is tied with a string and sits on a rustic paint-flecked background
A large bowl of cooked spinach sits on a kitchen countertop with some olive oil, garlic, and chickpeas sitting in the background

Sweet Paprika, Cumin & Ground Corriander

This simple yet ancient combination of spices has been used in middle eastern and northern African cuisines for centuries, and you’ll find all of these spices in any Spanish kitchen today.

Although some are definitely used more frequently than others, combining these three spices really adds to the nutty, warm, sweet flavor of this dish. I’d even go one step further and add a little ground chili flakes to bring a little welcome warmth to spinach with chickpeas.

Spanish Sweet Paprika (D.O. Pimentón De Murcia)

Sweet paprika (Pimentón in Spanish) from Spain originates from the Murcia region ( Pimentón De Murcia) alongside the Mediterranean Sea, where the Bola variety of peppers are dried in the sun and give the pimenton a sweet flavor once ground. 

To get a little more kick from your sweet paprika, give it a slight toasting in a dry pan for a minute or two. This really helps to bring the smokey sweet flavors out in the paprika.

Cumin

Cumin is a bit of a wildcard for Spanish cooking. It is used extensively throughout the southern region of Andalusia and within the Mediterranean basin, however, the humble spice is often left to collect dust on the spice rack in most other parts of Spain.

Cumin really works its magic in Spinach with chickpeas and provides a subtle nutty spiced flavor to the dish.

A plate of Ground corriander spice sits on a kitchen worktop with a small glass of olive oil sitting in the background

Ground Corriander/Cilantro

Also known as Ground Cilantro or ‘Cilantro en polvo’ in Spanish, this handy and flavorsome spice is made using the ground seeds of the coriander plant and used in Spanish cooking sparingly.

Ground corriander falls into the warm/sweet spice category and brings a nutty, smoked wood undertone to this dish that when paired with chickpeas, really enhances the flavor of the dish.

If you’re looking to really pair down the external spices, you can make Spinach with Chickpeas using just paprika (Pimentón). Just add a little more and you’re good to go.

Optional ingredients for spinach with chickpeas

Visiting Seville and frequenting the tapas bars, it’s not uncommon for you to be served Spinach with chickpeas as a popular tapa a few times in one evening. However, somehow, they’re all totally different

Spinach with chickpeas is an incredibly diverse dish, and over the years people have added or subtracted ingredients at leisure in quest of making the ultimate recipe! 

Nowadays, there is a huge amount of variation, with some dishes using as little as 5 ingredients, and others using far more! If you’re new to Spanish cooking, this is a fantastic dish to start with, and don’t be afraid of experimenting!

A narrow street scene of Seville with a couple navigating the streets

Additional  ingredient suggestions for Spinach with Chickpeas

Sun-dried tomatoes

Add sun-dried tomatoes in the last 2-3 minutes of the cooking process to add a tangy-sweet flavor to this dish. To finish, and really complement each flavor, squeeze half a lemon worth of juice over the dish once it’s finished cooking.

Tomatoes & Almonds

Using a combination of fresh diced tomatoes and almonds works wonders with this dish and just adds another layer of nutty, smoked flavor to it. If you’re adding almonds, dice them finely and give them a little toasting in a dry pan before adding them to the base sauce mix.

You can add the diced tomatoes when you add the spinach back to the pan. Just give it all a little extra time to simmer down and remove the excess water released from the tomatoes.

Aubergine

Aubergine (​​Berenjena in Spanish) can also be added easily to this dish and bring with it a delicious sweetness if they’re slightly roasted and caramelized first. Of course, roasting aubergines will add a bit more time to the recipe, but it’s well worth experimenting with.

Substitute Spinach with Kale or Chard

Not a fan of Popeye’s favorite food? No worries, substitute spinach with your preferred green leafy vegetable and give it a try. This dish works really well with kale or chard, and I’ve even seen people throw in a few handfuls of fresh rocket to give the dish a delicious peppery kick.

A dish of spinach with chickpeas sits on a rustic chopping board beside a few slices of fresh bread

Ingredients

Method (step-by-step)

  • 500 g cooked chickpeas 
  • 500 g frozen spinach 
  • 4 garlic cloves 
  • 1/3 loaf of a frozen baguette 
  • 1 tablespoon (5 g) ground cumin 
  • 1 tablespoon (5 g) ground coriander 
  • 1 tablespoon (5 g) sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) of chili flakes (ground)
  • 60ml/ 2 fl. oz. of ketchup 
  • 60ml/ 2 fl. oz. of apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 cup (236ml/ 8 fl. oz.) of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt (optional)
  • Pinch ground black pepper (optional)
    Nutritional fact sheet

    Method (step-by-step)

     Step 1 – Prepare the Spinach

    • First, take the frozen Spinach and add it to the pan and let it simmer until it defrosts.  This should take around 15 minutes on medium-high heat. Optionally, you can defrost the spinach in the microwave which takes around 5 minutes. 

    Step 2 – Prepare the sauce

    • Fry the sliced garlic and a little olive oil in a pan until it becomes golden. Once done, remove from the pan and set aside for use later. 
    • Increase the heat of the pan to high and with the pan hot, add the spinach and grated bread (or breadcrumbs) to the mixture and a little more oil.
    • Next, reduce the heat to medium and add the spices, chili flakes, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, toasted bread, and garlic. Stir thoroughly until you have a paste, then add some water to allow it to be more of a liquid/soup consistency. 

    Step 3 – Add the Chickpeas and Spinach

    • Add half a cup of water,  the remaining olive oil and add the cooked chickpeas and stir through. 
    • Note: If you want a more soup-like texture, add a little more water and let it simmer on low heat for an additional 10 minutes
    • Finally, check the flavoring and add some cracked black pepper and salt to season.

    Step 4 – To Serve

    • Typically, spinach with chickpeas is served as a tapa, however, this dish can easily become a vegan-friendly main meal. Either way, serve it with a few slices of fresh bread and you’ve got a hearty and healthy dish that’s full of flavor!
    Nutritional fact sheet

    Nutrition & Diet

    Spinach with Chickpeas

    This really is a super meal made with super ingredients! Spinach with Chickpeas is packed with plenty of essential vitamins and nutrients!

    • Protein 35% 35%
    • Carbs 22% 22%
    • Total Fat 51% 51%
    a large pan is cooking with some spinach and chickpeas inside
    A long green plate of spinach with chickpeas sits on a rustic chopping board with a few slices cut from a white laof of bread

    Spinach with Chickpeas

    Byron
    Spinach with chickpeas, or Espinacas con garbanzos’ is a delicious Spanish stew that originates from Andalusia. This recipe is quick and easy to make at home!
    5 from 9 votes
    Prep Time 15 mins
    Cook Time 30 mins
    Course Appetizer, dinner, Main Course, Side Dish, tapas
    Cuisine healthy, Mediterranean, spanish, vegan
    Servings 6 180 grams
    Calories 638 kcal

    Equipment

    • 1x 30cm/12-inch frying pan with deep sides (3 inches)

    Ingredients

    • 500 g Cooked chickpeas
    • 500 g Frozen spinach
    • 4 Garlic cloves
    • 2-3 Slices of dry white bread
    • 1 tablespoon 5 g ground cumin
    • 1 tablespoon 5 g ground coriander
    • 1 tablespoon 5 g sweet paprika
    • 1 Teaspoon 2 g of chili flakes (ground)
    • 60 ml/ 2 fl. oz. of Ketchup
    • 60 ml/ 2 fl. oz. of Apple cider vinegar
    • 1 cup 236ml/ 8 fl. oz. of Extra virgin olive oil

    Instructions
     

    Step 1 – Prepare the Spinach

    • First, take the frozen Spinach and add it to the pan and let it simmer until it defrosts. Optionally, you can defrost the spinach in the microwave which takes around 5 minutes.
      A large bowl of cooked spinach sits on a kitchen countertop with some olive oil garlic and chickpeas sitting in the background

    Step 2 – Prepare the sauce

    • Fry the sliced garlic and a little olive oil in a pan until it becomes golden. Once done, remove from the pan and set aside for use later.
      fried garlic in a pan
    • Increase the heat of the pan to high and with the pan hot, add the spinach and grated bread (or breadcrumbs) to the mixture and a little more oil.
      a large pan is cooking with some spinach and chickpeas inside
    • Next, reduce the heat to medium and add the spices, chili flakes, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, toasted bread, and garlic. Stir thoroughly until you have a paste, then add some water to allow it to be more of a liquid/soup consistency.
      a chopping board sits with some garlic chili flakes bay leaves and a plate of spices near some olive oil in a glass

    Step 3 – Add the Chickpeas and Spinach

    • Add half a cup of water, the remaining olive oil and add the cooked chickpeas and stir through.
      a alrge bowl holds some chickpeas
    • Note: If you want a more soup-like texture, add a little more water and let it simmer on low heat for an additional 10 minutes. Finally, check the flavoring and add some cracked black pepper and salt to season.
      A large pan of spinach with chickpeas sits cooking on a stovetop

    Step 4 – To Serve

    • Typically, spinach with chickpeas is served as a tapa, however, this dish can easily become a vegan-friendly main meal. Either way, serve it with a few slices of fresh bread and you’ve got a hearty and healthy dish that’s full of flavor!
      A large green dish sits on a chopping board with a serving of spinach with chickpeas beside a loaf of sliced white bread

    Video

    Nutrition

    Serving: 180gCalories: 638kcalCarbohydrates: 59.4gProtein: 1.4gFat: 39.5gSaturated Fat: 5.4gSodium: 222mgPotassium: 1290mgFiber: 17gSugar: 11.9gCalcium: 192mgIron: 9mg
    Keyword chickpeas, healthy, meal, side dish, spanish, spinach, tapas, vegan

    Spinach and Chickpeas – Tips and FAQs

    How long does it take to make spinach with chickpeas?

    • Preparation time: 15 minutes
    • Cook time: 30 minutes
    • Total time: 45 minutes

    What are chickpeas good with?

    • Chickpeas are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet and work well in recipes with roasted vegetables such as eggplants, courgettes, pumpkin, asparagus, and carrots. 
    • Chickpeas also work great when you want to bulk up a salad or pasta dish. 

    How do you make spinach and chickpeas?

    • To make this recipe, follow the step-by-step recipe guide. It’s super easy to make, requires just one big pot or deep-sided frying pan, and can be whipped up in under an hour. 

    Is spinach with chickpeas healthy?

    Yes, spinach with chickpeas is very healthy and nutritious. One 180-gram serving of this recipe provides;

    • 489 calories
    • 33.8 grams of carbohydrates
    • 10.3 grams of dietary fiber
    • 12 grams of protein
    • 50% of your daily intake of iron
    • 23% of your daily intake of calcium

    How to cook chickpeas?

    • Tinned or chickpeas purchased in a jar are already pre-prepared and can be cooked with straight away. 
    • If you’re using dried chickpeas, soak them overnight in fresh water and then boil them for around 2 hours. This will soften the chickpeas and allow them to be added to any recipe! 

    Can I use dried chickpeas for this recipe?

    • You sure can, just allow some extra time to rehydrate the dried chickpeas. See our notes above on how to prepare dried chickpeas for this recipe.

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