"I love Mum's Andalusian spinach and chickpea stew, because to me it's comfort food – it's like sausages and mash for other people," says Frank Camorra. "The flavours you remember from childhood are the ones that stick with you. Even now I can't make it exactly the same as she can, and still look forward to a massive plate of it made by her."
Begin this recipe a day ahead to soak the chickpeas.
- 170 gm dried chickpeas (see note)
- 20 gm butter
- 1 garlic clove, finely diced
- 800 gm (about 2 bunches) spinach, trimmed
- 1½ tbsp sweet Spanish paprika
- 1 tbsp freshly ground dry-roasted cumin seeds
- 1½ tbsp sherry vinegar
- Extra-virgin olive oil and crusty bread (optional), to serve
Picada de pan
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 thick slices day-old dense country-style bread, crusts removed (about 100gm)
- 1Soak chickpeas in 1 litre of water in a large bowl overnight. Drain, transfer to large saucepan of water, bring to the boil, add 250ml cold water, bring back to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, topping up water as necessary until tender (40 minutes to 1 hour). Drain, reserving cooking liquid. Cool.
- 2For picada de pan, heat olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir until fragrant (2-3 minutes), then add bread, season to taste, and cook, turning halfway, until golden (2-3 minutes). Transfer bread and garlic to paper towels to drain and cool briefly, then tear bread into small pieces and remove skins from garlic. Pound bread and garlic with a mortar and pestle until large but even breadcrumbs. Add 50gm cooked chickpeas, 60ml reserved cooking liquid and season to taste with sea salt, then pound to break up chickpeas. Add another 50gm cooked chickpeas, and another 1-2 tbsp cooking liquid and pound to the consistency of coarsely mashed potato.
- 3Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and stir until light golden (1 minute), then add spinach and turn with tongs until wilted (2 minutes). Increase heat to high, add chickpeas and 400ml cooking liquid and cook, stirring occasionally and crushing a few of the chickpeas into the spinach, until heated through (5-6 minutes). Add 125gm picada de pan (reserve remainder; it's great with eggs) and spices, season to taste and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened and creamy (5-7 minutes), then stir in sherry vinegar. Drizzle with oil and serve with bread.
Frank Camorra uses Ord River chickpeas, available from select delicatessens and greengrocers.
Drink suggestion: Leathery old red Rioja. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.