Chickpeas Braised with Spinach


Chickpeas Braised with Spinach


Here’s a substantial main dish that I developed many years ago while volunteering at my friends’ Turkish restaurant in Decatur. On Saturdays if I wasn’t otherwise busy I served as “Guest Chef” there, and learned a great deal about Eastern Mediterranean cooking.


Chickpeas Braised with Spinach

The dish is influenced heavily by what I learned hanging out with those Turkish chefs, though it is not specifically a Turkish dish. They wanted a vegan “special” that would meet the preferences of some of their customers. The dish went over well and got added to their regular menu, where it still remains several decades later. At our restaurant, Donderos’ Kitchen in Athens, we use a version of it for both catering and for sale from the freezer. 


Here’s a sized-down version of the recipe we use at the restaurant that approximates the restaurant dish. A batch serves six, accompanied by a rice dish, such as a pilaf, or warmed flatbread, such as pita. In the Turkish manner, the chickpea-spinach dish can be garnished with julienned red onion plus some chopped fresh parsley when served. Add a chunk of feta cheese or some yogurt seasoned with garlic and dill or cacik (tsadziki sauce) for a nice complement.


1 medium-small onion, finely diced

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium clove garlic, minced

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup water, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon (or more) crushed dry hot pepper

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed

1 (12-ounce) bag frozen cut or chopped spinach leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar

Julienned (lengthwise thinly sliced) red onion for garnish

Coarsely chopped parsley for garnish


In a heavy pot, gently fry the onion in the olive oil, stirring frequently, until well softened and starting to turn faintly golden. Add the garlic, stir and fry for half a minute, Add the tomato, water, salt, spices and herbs. Simmer a few minutes.


Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas, plus enough water to come a quarter inch below the surface of the chickpeas. Simmer, stirring often, for ten minutes. Add the frozen spinach and bring back just to a boil. Add a little water if the sauce is too thick. Remove from the heat.


Stir in the lemon juice or vinegar. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve now, or let cool and reheat later for serving. Sprinkle some julienned red onion and chopped parsley as a garnish. Accompany with a rice dish, such as a pilaf  (see elsewhere in this blog) or warmed pita bread,

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