¡Garbanzos con Espinacas! (Chickpeas and Spinach)

When my son was 6 weeks old, my husband and I decided to be adventurous and take him to Spain on a 10 day family vacation. The trip was amazing and we had such an incredible time.
We went on historic walking tours of Barcelona, visited the Dali Museum in Figures, strolled around the City of Arts & Sciences in Valencia, marveled at Gaudi's architecture and the jaw-dropping Sagrada Familia. And we ate. A lot. My husband said that he "ate his body weight in Serrano ham." I ate my body weight in cheese. (Dear Manchego, I am so fond of you!)
We went to the local markets in search of fresh produce, artisanal bread and local cheeses almost every day. I loved the ubiquitous Pan con Tomate and Patatas Bravas-- vegetarian-friendly tapas that were on every menu.
Spanish cuisine has many influences-- from the Arabic spices that were introduced during the Moorish Invasion which lasted 700 years (from the 8th to 15th centuries) to the flavors of the Muslim Mediterranean and Africa (the so called the "Saffron-Cinnamon" link).


Small plates at Inopia, Barcelona

A short while after we returned from our trip, my husband gifted me The Moro Cookbook and it is fast becoming my culinary bible. The dish below is an adaptation of one of their recipes which was also featured on Smitten Kitchen.
Garbanzos con Espinacas (Adapted from Moro: The Cookbook by Smitten Kitchen)
1/2 pound (230 grams) dried chickpeas, cooked until soft and tender or two 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound of spinach, washed
A hefty 1-inch slice from a country loaf or about 2 slices from sandwich loaf bread (2.5 ounces or 75 grams), crusts removed and cut inset small cubes
1/2 cup (4 ounces) tomato sauce (I use Muir Glen's Tomato Sauce)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I like to add a little bit more)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice, to taste
Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add half the olive oil. When it is hot, add the spinach with a pinch of salt (in batches, if necessary) and stir well. Remove when the leaves are just tender, drain in a colander and set aside.
Heat 2 more tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the bread for about 5 minutes or until golden brown all over, then the remaining tablespoon of oil and the garlic, cumin and pepper. Cook for 1 minute more or until the garlic is nutty brown.
Transfer to a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle along with the vinegar, and mash to a paste. Return the mixture to the pan and add the drained chickpeas and tomato sauce. Stir until the chickpeas have absorbed the flavors and are hot. Season with salt and pepper.
If the consistency is a little thick, add some water. Now add the spinach and cook until it is hot. Check for seasoning and serve with paprika on top and/or on fried bread toasts (as the Spanish do).