Espinacas con Garbanzos + Tortilla de Patatas

October 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

So, I’m back and I’m exhausted.  I have a bunch of exciting posts for you that I will be crafting and putting up over the next few days.  They are guest-starring my boyfriend and my boyfriend’s awesome camera!  Sadly these means that although the quality of photos will skyrocket over the next few posts, after that it will go right back to the unhappy level of my own little point-and-shoot.

The first dinner we made was Spanish-themed, which was exciting because most of our joint cooking falls in the Asian or Indian category (and, indeed, we did two other meals this weekend, one in each of those areas).  We got both of our recipes from Deb over at the wonderful and inspiring Smitten Kitchen.  Part I of the meal was Espinacas con Garbanzos, also known as Spinach and Chickpeas, and Part II was a Tortilla de Patatas (potato tortilla, which is different than the corn/flour tortillas you buy in the grocery store).  We made a couple minor changes in things, and both dishes were delicious, although I think in retrospect some of our technique could have been improved.  I’ll share my thoughts with y’all regarding what we did and what we should have done at various points along the way.

EDIT: This post is tagged vegan and gluten-free because the first recipe is vegan and the second is gluten-free.  You could probably make the first gluten-free as well by removing the bread or substituting some gluten-free starch for it instead.

Espinacas con Garbanzos
(original recipe can be found here)
2–15oz cans of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
6 tbsp olive oil
1 lb spinach, washed (I think we ended up using closer to .75 lb; you can adjust the amount to your taste)
2 slices of sandwich bread, or 1 thick slice of artisan-type bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes
½ c tomato sauce (you can buy your own, but we made ours, using a halved and slightly tweaked version of this basic marinara sauce)
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
½ tsp cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp smoked paprika
Salt, pepper, & lemon juice to taste

tomato sauce

Note: the original recipe uses a couple different pots/pans.  We just used the same one for everything, for ease of cleaning up.  Seemed to work just fine.

Add 3 tbsp of olive oil to a medium-ish pot over medium heat.  When olive oil is hot, add spinach and stir well, until just tender.  Remove from the pot and set aside.espinacas!

Heat 2 more tbsp of olive oil in the same pot, and add the cubed bread.  Fry for about 5 minutes, until it turns golden brown, and then add the last tbsp of oil, garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for about another minute, until the garlic becomes “nutty brown.”

Throw all of that in a food processor or blender, add the vinegar, and blend/mash it into a paste.  Put it back in your pot, add your chickpeas and tomato sauce, and stir until the chickpeas are hot.

chickpeas = delicious

Season with salt & pepper.  Add the spinach and cook until it’s hot as well; check for appropriate levels of seasoning, and serve sprinkled with paprika.

pretty AND healthy

Okay, on to the next dish…
Tortilla de Patatas
(original recipe can be found here)
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & quartered
Coarse salt
1 c extra-virgin olive oil (original recipe calls for 1.25 c)
1 small onion, sliced thinly
6 large eggs
2 tbsp chicken or vegetarian stock

Start by slicing up your potatoes really thin.  We just used a knife and sliced them as thin as we could, and it seemed to work pretty well.  Pat them dry with paper towels (we forgot this step but again, it didn’t seem to make a huge difference).

potato + onion

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until it’s very hot.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, put in the potatoes and spread them out evenly.  Let them cook for about 7 minutes, until they’re about half-done, stirring them occasionally to prevent them from sticking.  Then stir in the onion, turn down the heat to low, and cook until all the potatoes are soft (15ish more minutes).

stir stir stir

Transfer the potatoes & onion to a colander and let them drain; set aside about 2 tbsp of the cooking oil, and if you like you can strain the rest to use again later.  Season the potatoes/onion with salt.

Beat together the eggs, chicken stock, and a little salt in a large bowl thoroughly.  Stir in the potato mixture and use a fork to crush the potatoes a little and mix them with the eggs really well.  Let that mixture sit for about 10 minutes.



Heat 5 tsp of the cooking oil you saved in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke.

**Before we continue, a note about the kind of skillet you want to use: the original recipe says to use a heavy 8-inch skillet.  We, in our infinite wisdom, disregarded the “8-inch” guideline and used the largest skillet we could find, but when we’d finished cooking it, for reasons that will become clear shortly, we decided that it would have been a better idea to use a smaller and deeper skillet rather than opting for a larger and shallower one.

Moving on: pour the egg/potato mixture into your skillet and flatten the potatoes so the top is mostly even.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, and for about a minute, cook the mixture while moving/shaking the skillet and running a thin spatula around the edges so the egg can run underneath.  Then let the whole thing sit and cook undisturbed until the top is “a little wet but not liquid” – this will take probably 6-8 minutes.  Slide the spatula under the tortilla to make sure it’s not stuck to the skillet.  Now here comes the fun part, and the primary reason you want to stick with a smaller skillet: cover the skillet with a slightly larger rimless plate, and quickly invert the tortilla onto the plate (be careful not to burn yourself on the skillet).  Add more olive oil to the skillet.

**Another aside: we thought the skillet didn’t look that dry, and didn’t add more oil, but discovered when it was done that we probably should have, since the other side of the tortilla wasn’t cooked as well as it should have been. We have also since heard from reliable sources that one should use absurd amounts of oil when cooking this tortilla, so yes, most definitely add more oil when you flip it, regardless of whether you think you need it!

Slide the tortilla back into the skillet with the uncooked side down, reduce the heat to very low (we think we maybe should have left it on medium-low, but this could also be a function of our not having added more oil), and cook it until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 3-4 minutes.

The recipe asks you to invert the tortilla again and cook it on the first side for another minute… we did not do this and I don’t think any of our problems with this dish stemmed from that, so if you’re feeling ambitious and/or really like inverting your tortilla, go for it, but if not you can skip that step and just keep cooking it on the second side for another minute or so.

When it’s done, invert it onto a serving plate and pat the top of it with a paper towel to get rid of excessive oil.  Let it cool a little, cut it into wedges, and enjoy!

at least one side looks pretty!


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