I have this really bad habit of going into a store for one thing and coming out with about ten others minus the one thing I intended to get in the first place.

Case in point: my recent trip to Cost Plus World Market .

I went with the intention of buying yellow pillows for the apartment I don’t quite have yet. Instead I found organic jasmine tea pearls, Italian blood orange spritzer, a chili-lime dark chocolate bar, one teeny-tiny tin of saffron, baggies of lavender and hot curry powder and a pot of blood orange marmalade.

Needless to say I’m a serious sucker for budget friendly treats.

I may have failed at “mission: buy yellow pillows,” but I succeeded in finding the one pivotal ingredient needed to make a dish I have been cooing over since I discovered it in the NYT dining section this past February.

Spanish chorizo sausage ~ the essential ingredient needed to create  fried chickpeas with chorizo and spinach.

Doesn’t that just sound like a party? Trouble is they don’t seem to sell chorizo at your friendly, neighborhood Albertson’s. World Market though? Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

Chorizo is one of my many weaknesses. If I see it on a menu I have to have it…like now. My first experience with this smokin’ hot sausage was at Portage Bay Café in the University District (i.e. right near UW in Seattle) about three years ago.

Okay, first order of business: If you haven’t been to Portage Bay then stop reading this, hop in your car/private jet/hovercraft and go! No really, I’m totally not joking. You need to experience this place. It will change your life.

When you arrive and finish drooling all over the menu, order anything that features a trip to the breakfast bar (i.e. the table chock-full of fresh fruit compotes, mountains of whipped cream, nuts and of course syrup…miles and miles of syrup).

Then if you’re still hungry, get what I always order…the Migas. That’s what I was eating when first introduced to the joy that is chorizo sausage.

Chorizo is a sausage gem – smoky and succulent with the most gorgeous bright red hue. That jewel-like tone comes from pimentón, or, Spanish paprika, which also lends chorizo its signature flavor.

Now there are two kinds of chorizo out there: Mexican and Spanish. The first is softer with a consistency similar to ground beef while the second tends to be firmer, cured and is flavored with the aforementioned pimentón. I’m a big fan of the smoky Spanish variety and highly recommend it for this dish in particular.

Fried chickpeas with chorizo and spinach can be either a side dish or main dish depending on your mood. If made for a large group, I’d put it in the “on the side” category. But if you’re looking for a lunch option or a bowl of something to curl up with on the couch, then by all means, make this and only this. It’s a cinch to whip up and will make your house smell heavenly.

First, you dry out your chickpeas. I rolled mine around between a few layers of paper towel while trying to dissuade my cat from sampling the goods. She’s a curious one that Miss Kitty.

Then swirl your peas about in a hot pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil until they get toasty.

Add your chorizo and cook a bit more, say 5 – 8 minutes. Remove those babies from the pan and get ready to wilt some spinach.

To your spinach, add salt, pepper and a ¼ cup sherry.

Cook…

…until your spinach looks like this and all the liquid has magically disappeared.

Toss your chorizo/chickpea concoction back in the pan, top it off with a few handfuls of breadcrumbs and some olive oil, hoist it under the broiler and let it get all toasty brown for about 3 minutes or so.

(If you’re like me and do not own an oven-proof pan, then just transfer your goodies to an oven safe glass baking dish before adding the breadcrumbs and olive oil…)

And voilà! Fried chickpeas with chorizo and spinach.

Doesn’t it look lovely? The texture is this fantastic cross between crunchy chickpeas & breadcrumbs / soft & smooth spinach.

P.s. it tastes pretty darn good too with this smoky-toasty-sweet-and-winey thing going on that is just out of this world.

And of course the chorizo is just wow.

~Brittni

Fried Chickpeas with Chorizo and Spinach
From The New York Times ~ February 19, 2010

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, as dry as possible
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 ounces chorizo, diced
  • 1/2 pound spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1 to 2 cups bread crumbs.

Directions:

Heat your broiler.

Dry your chickpeas by placing them between a few layers of paper towels. Pat dry.

Put three tablespoons of the oil in a skillet large enough to hold chickpeas in one layer over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add chickpeas and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until chickpeas begin to brown, about 10 minutes, then add chorizo. Continue cooking for another 5 to 8 minutes or until chickpeas are crisp; use a slotted spoon to remove chickpeas and chorizo from pan and set aside.

Add the remainder of the 1/4 cup of oil to the pan; when it’s hot, add spinach and sherry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook spinach over medium-low heat until very soft and the liquid has evaporated. Add chickpeas and chorizo back to the pan and toss quickly to combine.

Top the chickpea/chorizo/spinach mix with bread crumbs, drizzle with a bit more oil and run pan under the broiler to lightly brown the top.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield ~ 4 servings

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