Frugal Dinner Recipe: Moorish Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew

by heather

Moorish Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Moorish Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew

If you’re looking for some frugal, healthy dinner ideas, then have I got a treat for you. Moorish Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew is not only a cheap dinner recipe, it’s also healthy and vegetarian.

I got this great dinner recipe from NPR’s series, “How Low Can You Go?”

Basically, NPR challenged chefs and listeners to send in dinner recipes that could feed a family of 4 for less than $10. And, they’ve come up with some great dinner ideas.

As soon as I heard this one on the radio a few days ago, I knew I had to try it. I’m a sucker for anything Spanish, and the fact that the word “Moorish” was in the title won me over before I even had a clue about what else was in it. But, that’s just me.

Why will you love this frugal dinner recipe? It’s healthy, it’s vegetarian, and it’s cheap. Thank you NPR and Chef Jose Andres!

And I know the picture kind of makes this stew look like Glop. But, it was really tasty, so don’t let the looks fool you.

So, let’s dive in to this easy recipe…

Moorish Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew Recipe

This section was taken directly from NPR’s recipe page, which you can find here:


9 oz. dried garbanzo (chickpeas) beans

Pinch of baking soda

6 garlic cloves, peeled and whole

1/4 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces white sliced bread, with the crusts removed

2 tablespoons pimenton (Spanish sweet paprika)

1 pinch Spanish saffron

2 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar

1/2 pound spinach, washed and cleaned

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and white pepper to taste

To Cook

  • The day before you cook, soak the chickpeas in cold water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda. The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  • In a big saucepan, combine the chickpeas with 2 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for two hours, until the chickpeas are tender. Every 10 minutes or so, add 1/2 cup of cold water to slow down the simmering. By the end, the water should have reduced so it is barely covering the chickpeas. Turn off the heat and let sit.
  • In a small saute pan over medium to low heat, brown the garlic in 1/4 cup of the olive oil. When the garlic is browned, after about 3 minutes, remove from the pan and set aside. Add the bread and brown on both sides, about one minute each side. Remove the bread and set aside.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the pimenton and saffron to the saute pan, and the sherry vinegar immediately afterward to prevent the pimenton from burning.
  • In a mortar, smash the reserved garlic and the browned bread to make a very thick paste.
  • Bring the chickpeas back to a low boil and add the spinach. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pimenton mixture along with the garlic and bread paste, to create a thick, stewy sauce. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Easy, Frugal Changes I Made To This Recipe…

Ok, so as you can probably tell, those are the official recipes from Chef Jose.

I was pressed for time, so I made just a few changes to this dinner recipe and it turned out just fine. Here’s what I did…

  • First off, I used 3 cans of chickpeas instead of a bag of dried chickpeas. My local grocery store doesn’t carry dried chickpeas, so this increased my costs a bit (the store-brand cans I bought were 89 cents each). Make sure you drain and rinse them well if you used canned. If you’re pressed for time and don’t want to soak the beans overnight, this is a great way to go.
  • I also didn’t cook the chickpeas anywhere near as long as the recipe called for. My estimate is that I cooked it for about 1/2 hr.
  • I skipped the garlic, only because my husband can’t eat it. It still was very tasty without it.
  • I’m pretty sure I used more crusty bread than called for, and I’m really glad I did. The bread, especially once it was browned and crusty from the olive oil, was a tasty addition.
  • I didn’t go out looking for Spanish pimenton, because I knew I wouldn’t find it where I live. So I used regular paprika I had on hand. Worked well as far as I’m concerned.
  • I also skipped the saffron, simply because I didn’t have any and was too cheap pressed for time to go back out and find some.
  • The Spanish sherry vinegar…can you see where I’m going with this? Yep, I didn’t have any, knew I wouldn’t find any at my local 2-bit grocery store, so I used the red-wine vinegar I already had.

    Panola Hot Sauce

    Panola Hot Sauce

  • After the recipe was done, I added plenty of Panola for spice. If you live outside of Louisiana then you might not have ever heard of Panola. I’m a bit biased, since I grew up just a few miles from the Panola Pepper plant, but to me Panola is way tastier than Tabasco. If you’re north of the Mason-Dixon line you probably won’t find this luscious spicy sauce in stores, you’ll have to order it online. But, it’s worth every penny. And, it only costs a few; a 6 oz. bottle is only $1.10. Click here if you’d like to order some of this fantastic Southern hot sauce. They’ve got 34 varieties.

How I’ll Cook This Recipe Next Time…

In spite of all my changes, I was still very happy with how the recipe turned out. It was tasty, cheap, very easy to make, and filling. Next time I make it, however, this is what I’ll do:

  • I’ll throw the spinach in at the very last minute. If you follow the chef’s directions, to me the spinach cooks too long and gets a bit slimy. Throwing it in at the last minute will not only retain more nutrients, but give it a better texture.
  • I’ll also throw in the browned bread at the very last minute (or even hold off and put it into everyone’s individual bowls). I think it would be even tastier to have crunchier bread. In my opinion, the bread was too soggy.
  • I also might throw in a can of Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes. I think that might be savory.

My Thanks…

My thanks go out to NPR and Chef Jose Andres for giving us this frugal dinner recipe.

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Drink Mixer – Moorish-Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew (Garbanzos con espinacas)
September 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm


Ashley May 1, 2009 at 10:57 pm

So excited to see this post! I heard this on NPR the other day and totally want to make it as well. Thanks for posting your “what I’ll do next time.” I had the same thought on the bread just from listening, but wasn’t sure. I think I’ll also use some leftover stale bread for it from a homemade loaf I have lying around (when I get about to making it finally, whenever that will be!).

Debby Wagster December 9, 2010 at 6:52 am

Thanks! You just turned a complicated recipe, I would never try, into a meal I will
make for my family. I know we dont have white bread so I wil be using wheat. LOL

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