Tuesday, April 13, 2010

just do it

I'm quite tired, tonight, friends, so I'm going to get straight to the point: You need to buy some pimentón de la Vera, or smoked paprika as it's called here in the U.S. of A. While I hate to post recipes with specialty ingredients you might not be able to find at the general store, this one is worth having around, so please just order some already. Trust me when I tell you it will not grow dusty in your pantry. You'll sprinkle pimentón on your scrambled eggs, eat it on fruit, and use it to season everything from soups to legumes.

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.


  1. I bought smoked paprika (McCormick Gourmet Collection), from our local Acme. It's great in your tomato soup recipe - someone suggested substituting smoked gouda in place of part of the cheddar and that gave me the idea of adding smoked paprika.

  2. An article on smoked paprika in today's NYT:

  3. SueShu, I will never again talk smack about your Acme. And pimenton in that soup is a brilliant idea -- I've been making it recently with smoked cheddar (from Shelburne Farms here in VT), which is pretty dreamy, too.

  4. This looks extra gruelish to me. Am I wrong?

  5. Lucky Lady, the recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, a very ungruelish food bl*g that regularly features dishes such as cheesecake and brisket, and though this may be one of Smitten Kitchen's more gruel-like recipes, it's certainly no more gruelish than that farro gruel you love so much.

    How about this: Try making it, and if you think I'm wrong and this dish is extra gruelish, I'll let you take my dog for the weekend. But if I'm right and this dish is no more gruelish than most of what I post here, you have to take my dog for the weekend. Do we have a deal?

  6. Wow! That sounds like a great deal! I'll come pick him up this evening. Wait... did you trick me?