Without pimentón, the dish described below would be fine—it would even be good—but add the pimentón and you have something delicious, an easy weeknight meal or side dish that is so full of smoky flavor you'll be hard-pressed to end up with leftovers, which are quite wonderful cold.
BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Thanks to SueShu for pointing out the piece in today's Times on the subject of pimentón.
Smoky Chickpeas and Spinach
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
extra virgin olive oil
1 pound spinach
1 or 2 slices of bread, crusts removed and cut into small cubes [I used one slice from the center of a big, round loaf of whole wheat, but you could also use a thick slice of white country bread, two slices of sandwich bread, or even bread crumbs; you could also probably skip the bread entirely, though I like the heartiness and texture it lends to the dish]
½ cup tomato sauce [I used marinara from an open jar we had in the fridge, but Smitten Kitchen recommends this, and I would avoid any tomato sauce that has a lot of added herbs or other flavors]
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
~½ teaspoon pimentón, separated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Warm a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat and then add olive oil to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the spinach (in batches, if necessary) with a pinch of salt and stir well. Remove when the leaves are just tender and drain in a colander.
2. Return the pan to the heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the bread for about 5 minutes or until golden brown all over, then add another tablespoon of oil and the garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, and ¼ teaspoon of pimentón. Cook for 1 minute more or until the garlic is nutty brown.
3. Transfer the bread mixture to a food processor or blender, add the vinegar, and whir 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 to taste with salt, pepper, and pimentón (I added another ¼ teaspoon here). Add the spinach and cook just until hot.