Author Notes: This recipe was inspired by Mark Bittman's recipe for rack of lamb with pimenton rye breadcrumbs. The lamb didn't interest me at all, but I started wondering what else those breadcrumbs could go on. I decided to do a Spanish interpretation of Nigel Slater's chickpea gratin, and this is the result: creamy chickpeas, tender spinach and meltingly soft onions, bound together with a sherry gravy and topped with those amazing smoky rye breadcrumbs. This is one of those wonderful side dishes that also doubles as a vegan main course; if you end up with leftovers, they're incredible with a fried egg on top the next day. - ieatthepeach
Serves 4 as a main course, 6-8 as a side dish
For the gratin:
- 2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 pound fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the breadcrumbs:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika (pimenton dulce)
- Salt to taste
- 2 slices rye bread (preferably stale), torn into pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350º F, and lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Heat olive oil in a large deep-sided skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes, or until the onions are soft and starting to color. Sprinkle over the flour, and stir to coat the flour with oil. Add sherry and cook for a minute or two, until the liquid has reduced and thickened. Add vegetable broth and bring to a simmer; let cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the liquid has thickened to a gravy-like consistency.
- Turn off the heat and stir in chickpeas and spinach, letting the spinach wilt from the heat in the pan. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish.
- In a food processor, combine olive oil, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper, and pulse until the garlic is finely chopped. Add rye bread and pulse until it forms coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the gratin. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is deeply browned and the gratin is bubbling and fragrant.
- Remove the gratin from the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve warm. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Chickpeas
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Most Impressive Dinner Party Side