Dinner Tonight: Moro's Chickpeas and Spinach

April 12, 2016

Sometimes you feel pantry poor and cash rich. That is a pretty good place to be: You head to the grocery store or, if you're really feeling cash rich, the farmers market. You go crazy on whatever fruit is in season or on the frilly little microgreens. You feast simply. You might eat out.

But sometimes you feel just the opposite, pantry rich and cash poor. This is also a good place to be: Navigating your pantry and fridge drawers feels a little like forging westward, making do, providing for yourself. It's how meals like Moro's Chickpeas and Spinach are born (necessity! scrounging!)—and it's the best time to make such meals, and these chickpeas, in your own kitchen.

Grocery List:
(Organized by area of the market)

  • 1 bunch fresh oregano
  • 1 small dried red chile (or a large pinch of chile flakes)
  • 500 grams (18 ounces) fresh spinach

We're assuming you already have 2 400-gram cans of (or 200 grams/7 ounces dried, soaked, and cooked) chickpeas, olive oil, a few slices of (white) bread, garlic, cumin seeds, saffron, red wine vinegar, Spanish paprika, salt, and pepper. If not, add those to the list!

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The Game Plan:

About 30 minutes before dinner, soak a big pinch of saffron in 4 tablespoons of boiling water. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and wilt the spinach with a pinch of salt. When just wilted, drain and set aside.

Heat another 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the saucepan over medium heat. Toast 75 grams/3 ounces/two 1/2-inch slices (crusts removed, cubed) in the hot oil until golden, then add 3 thinly sliced cloves garlic, 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, the (roughly chopped) bunch of oregano, and crumbled chile, cooking until the garlic is brown but not burnt.

Use a food processor or mortar and pestle to transform the bread-spices mixture to a paste with 1 1/2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Return the bread mixture to the pan with the saffron-infused water and drained chickpeas, stirring until the chickpeas have taken on the color and flavor of the spices. Stir in the spinach, seasoning with salt and pepper—and serve over slices of fried bread, sprinkled with Spanish paprika.

See the full recipe here.

What's your pantry-rich, cash-poor dinner of choice? Tell us in the comments.

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Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.