A tapa of espinacas con garbanzos tells you everything you need to know about Seville.
This is one of the most typical dishes in the sunny Andalusian capital, loved and devoured by locals. But why? It’s a surprisingly simple recipe; mostly spinach and chickpeas (garbanzo beans) spiced with cumin. But despite its simplicity, this tapa tastes way better than the sum of its parts.
You’ll find it on the menu of every tavern and tapas bar in Seville. Every abuela has her own secret recipe, but that current of fragrant cumin runs through them all! But what does this classic recipe for espinacas con garbanzos tell you about Seville?
A delicious history
This dish is full of reminders of Seville’s Moorish past. Even before taking a bite, you’ll be hit by aromas of exotic spice!
The Moors were the first to bring spinach, chickpeas, and cumin to Spain. This was in the time of Al-Andalus, the Arabic kingdom of the south. Centuries later, sevillanos in modern-day Andalusia still gulp these Moorish foods down with glee.
Even after the expulsion of the Moors after the end of the Reconquista, Spanish Catholics kept eating these foods. A stew of chickpeas, spinach, and cumin had been popular in Al-Andalus, but the Christians were fans too.
They realized that apart from tasting great, it was also a handy recipe during Lent! The chickpeas were a great source of protein and energy when you couldn’t eat meat or fish, and the spice just made it even tastier.
Today, espinacas con garbanzos is eaten all year round, but is still closely associated with Easter. During Semana Santa, locals will make sure to eat it at least a few times.
But if you’re not in Seville for Easter, don’t worry. With our super-simple recipe, you can make espinacas con garbanzos at home!
Classic espinacas con garbanzos recipe
- Recipe Type: Main
- Cuisine: Andalusian
- Prep time: 15 mins
- Cook time: 30 mins
- Total time: 45 mins
- Serves: 4
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 300 g (10.5 oz) fresh spinach leaves
- 70 g (2.5 oz) blanched almonds (unsalted), roughly chopped
- 2 slices of day-old bread, crust removed and cubed
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1 jar (500 g/17 oz) cooked chickpeas
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) water
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the spinach and toss until just wilted. Transfer the spinach to a colander and leave to drain.
- Return the skillet to the heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add the almonds and the bread, frying until the almonds become golden brown.
- Next, add the garlic and spices to the pan and stir to coat the almonds and bread evenly. Saute for 1–2 minutes until the garlic is golden and fragrant.
- Take the skillet off the heat and let cool for a couple of minutes. Transfer the almond and bread mixture to a small food processor, and add the vinegar. Pulse to a chunky paste and set aside.
- Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped onion and saute for 3 minutes or until the onion is transparent and fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and chickpeas (including the liquid from the chickpea jar), and the 1/2 cup of water. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the wilted spinach to the skillet, along with the almond-bread paste mix. Stir to combine, and let simmer for a further 5 minutes. Serve in small ceramic bowls for a tapas vibe!
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David discovered his inner Spaniard while studying in Seville, and it’s now his life’s mission to learn everything he can about his adopted country’s culture and cuisine. He can usually be found eating in a busy tapas bar or strolling in a quiet street. You can see more of his adventures on the Everyday Food Blog!