Yet another vegetarian dish!
Spinach is for sure an excellent source of all kind of vitamins and dietary fiber. It is definitely among the world’s healthiest foods although the legend of Popeye’s strength is a little bit exaggerated. So many kids were forced to eat spinach because of Popeye’s myth!
My son always says when something is good for your health, it’s usualy bad for your taste. I kind of agree with him, spinach can be somehow boring and a bit tasteless.
This is a delicious way to prepare it with a little bit of originality. The cilantro and the chickpeas bring a lot of flavor to the dish.
A little bit of history about this vegetable.
Spinach is believed to be of Persian origin. The plant was subsequently introduced to India and then to ancient China via Nepal, where it was known as “Persian vegetable”.
In AD 827, the Saracens introduced spinach to Sicily. Spinach became a popular vegetable in the Arab Mediterranean and arrived in Spain end of the 12th century. It spreads across Europe in the 14th century, probably via Spain, and it gained quick popularity because it appeared in early spring, when other vegetables were scarce and when Lenten dietary restrictions limited the choice of other foods. Spinach is mentioned the first time in an English cookbook The Forme of Cury in 1390, where it is referred to as ‘spinnedge’ or ‘spynoches’.
Spinach was supposedly the favourite vegetable of Italian wife of King Henry II of France; Catherine de Medici. Dishes served on a bed of spinach are known as “Florentine”, in honor to her Italian heritage.
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 30 min
2 lb (1 kg) fresh spinach
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 small garlic clove (skip it if you don’t digest garlic)
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 lemon juice
7 oz (200 gr) chickpeas
1 tsp Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
First make sure to remove all the sand or dirt from the spinach. Wash them in clean water two or three times, depends how sandy they are. Boil water in a big pan; once the water is ready, add the spinach for 2min to blanch them. Remove the spinach with a skimmer to keep the sand in the water at the bottom of the pan. Strain them to remove all the water. You can also press the spinach in your hands.
Keep 2 tbsp of olive oil aside and pour the remain in a frying pan. Add the spinach when the oil is warm. Stir them in the olive oil and make sure the spinach are completely coated with oil. Cook them on medium heat for 15 min, stirring from time to time to avoid the spinach to stick to the frying pan and change color.
Peel the garlic clove and cut it lengthwise in two to remove the stem. Chop the garlic, the onion and the cilantro separately. Pour the remaining olive oil in an another frying pan. Add the onions, stir until they are transparent, add the garlic and stir for another minute. Then add the cilantro and stir until it is melted and the 3 ingredients are well mixed.
Add the cilantro mix to the spinach, add salt and pepper, and stir all together. Leave the mix on low heat for 15 min.
Strain the chickpeas and add them to the spinach. Stir for 5 min and remove the frying pan from the heat. Pour the lemon juice on the spinach and stir gently in order not to smash the chickpeas. Leave it to cool down for an hour.
Display the spinach on a dish and sprinkle a little bit of Espelette pepper on top. It will give a spicy taste and will color your dish.
If you are going to serve the dish the same day you can leave it outside in room temperature. Refrigerate it if you are going to serve it the day after when it’s completely cold.
You can serve the spinach as a side dish to go with chicken or lamb. It is also delicious to eat it with Lebanese bread or pitta bread. It looks great with other Lebanese Mezze like hummus if you want to prepare a mediterranean table.
You can find my hummus recipe on one of my previous post. Actually, the first one I posted on my blog.