Garbanzos con Espinacas

garbanzos, espinacas y huevo

Garbanzos con Espinacas (chickpeas with spinach) is a very popular Spanish tapa, thought to have originated in Andalucia, which is the home of tapas. Spinach was first cultivated in ancient Persia (Iran) and probably arrived in Spain with the Moors. Chickpeas originally came from South East Turkey and were domesticated around 7000 BC. It is probable that chickpeas came to Spain with the Phoenicians or Greeks – they have been a Mediterranean staple for many millennia. Both the Moors and Jews would have eaten dishes like Garbanzos con Espinacas in the kindom of Al-Andalus and very similar recipies can be found in Indian cooking, namely Chana Saag. There are many shared dishes in Indian and Persian cuisines.

Garbanzos con Espinacas also bears distinct similarities to Potaje de Vigilia – a fasting soup containing bacalao, chickpeas and spinach, very popular during Lent. Whilst this is undoubtedly an Old World dish, the inclusion of Pimentón would definitely have happened after the discovery of the Americas.

Receta de Garbanzos con Espinacas:

200g dry chickpeas
250g spinach
a splash of the spinach cooking liquid
a slice of stale bread
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Pimentón de la Vera dulce
1/2 teaspoon Pimentón de la Vera picante
2 dessertspoons sherry vinegar
coarse sea salt and black peppercorns
extra virgin olive oil

1 hard boiled egg (to garnish)

garbanzos secos

Soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight.

garbanzos remojados

Simmer for about two hours (or until tender) in water (to cover) with 2 bay leaves or for 25 minutes in a pressure cooker. The garbanzos should double in size and weight. Discard the bay leaves.

pan frito

In the meantime, fry a slice of stale bread in extra virgin olive oil, until it becomes golden brown.


Chop up 6 cloves garlic and poach in the same pan and oil used for the bread. There’s no need to overly brown it.

cilantro y comino

Warm the cumin and coriander in a dry pan. When you can smell them, take the pan off the heat.


Grind the cumin, coriander, a pinch of course sea salt and a few black peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Add 2 dessertspoons of sherry vinegar and a dessertspoon of extra virgin olive oil and the fried bread (broken up into pieces) to make a thick paste. Sprinkle on the pimentón and mix it in.

garbanzos con pasta

Stir the paste into the drained chickpeas in a frying pan on a low heat, with a little more olive oil.


Put the spinach into a saucepan of simmering salted water (about a pint), put the lid on and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, until it wilts. Drain the spinach and save 1/2 pint of the cooking liquid (you probably won’t need that much).

garbanzos y espinacas

Stir the spinach into the chickpeas, with a splash of spinach water. Use the liquid sparingly, the Garbanzos con Espinacas should be sticky but not wet! If you add too much liquid the dish will practically become Potaje de Vigilia which is a soup/stew. The Garbanzos con Espinacas will take a little bit of stirring to help the spinach break down and spread out (as opposed to being a big clump) – 5 minutes or so should give a good consistency. Do check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

garbanzos con espinacas

Serve warm and cut a boiled egg into 4 pieces to go on top. Alternately, chop the egg up and sprinkle it on. If you wish to push the boat out, fried quail eggs or a little diced jamón serrano will add a jewel to your crown. While this is normally a tapa, it also makes a great side dish with fish or meat. I recomend drinking a glass of chilled Fino with the Garbanzos con Espinacas.

About Mad Dog
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12 Responses to Garbanzos con Espinacas

  1. Audrey says:

    I shall have this for my lunch today . The humble chick pea is a godsend for the GF Brigade.

  2. Cocoa & Lavender says:

    Thanks for this tapa, MadDog – will be looking for it in Andalucia and definitely making it at home!

  3. Janet Mendel says:

    While this is one of my favorite vegetarian dishes, it’s pretty good with chunks of chorizo added. That was my quickie version a couple days ago, with a jar of chickpeas. I like your addition of fried bread to the mortar mash with spices.

  4. Sounds delicious, MD! When I saw this I immediately thought of Indian cookery, so it was interesting to see you draw that comparison as well. I guess these ingredients spread east as well as west from their place of origin. I can’t think of any similar Italian dish but of course garbanzos are super popular and I personally love them.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Frank! There’s a huge crossover between Persia and India – it can be hard to know where some dishes originally came from and then each village may have a different version, like pasta recipes in Italy.

  5. great version. I have never seen that toasted bread and it sounds a good idea. /// blimey, they do love garlic! 🙂

  6. thesnowwoman says:

    I need to try this recipe very soon!

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