I found this recipe after eating a delicious version of a similar recipe at a party earlier this summer. This is cheap, but fiddly – you have to soak the chickpeas, obviously, and it does take a while to cook (this version is From Nigel Slater’s slow recipes). Mind you, I have a really quick version of this recipe that I do regularly, and I use tinned chickpeas.
I used frozen spinach that came pre-pulverised – it meant that the spinach was more incorporated into the sauce, but it was delish.
dried chickpeas – 250g
olive oil – 2 tbs
red onions – 4, peeled and roughly chopped
garlic – 2 cloves, thinly sliced
flour – 1 tbsspinach – 450g
vegetable or chicken stock – 250ml
crème fraîche – 300g
freshly grated Spenwood, Pecorino or Parmesan cheese – 80-90g or a couple of good handfuls
soft white breadcrumbs – about 50g, or a handful
1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water. Drain and tip them into a deep pan. Cover with fresh water and bring to the boil. Scoop off the froth that rises to the surface, then turn the heat down so that the water simmers merrily. Leave them to cook, watching the water level carefully and topping it up from time to time. When they are tender, after about 45-60 minutes cooking, drain.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Warm the olive oil in a roasting tin or large cast-iron casserole over a moderate heat, then add the onion and garlic. Leave them to cook, with the occasional stir, until the onion and garlic have softened and taken on a little colour. Expect this to take a good 15 minutes. Stir in the flour.
3. Meanwhile, wash the spinach thoroughly, then, while it is still wet, steam in a covered pan for 2 or 3 minutes until the leaves have relaxed. Drain and squeeze the moisture out.
4. Pour the drained chickpeas, stock and crème fraîche into the onions, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, then turn up the heat and bring almost to the boil. Add the spinach, pulling it into pieces as you go, then stir and tip everything into a large baking dish or roasting tin. Strew with the grated cheese and breadcrumbs then cook for 45 minutes or so until a golden crust has formed.
5. Serve in deep bowls to hold the juices.