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The combination of chick-peas and spinach are a favorite around the Mediterranean. Though the combination seems odd, it is an old classic emigrating from Persia to the Middle East and across North Africa to Spain, where they were introduced during the Moor's 700-year occupation of Spain. I happen to be partial to this healthy Middle Eastern vegetarian meze.
Note: This can be prepared 1 day in advance. To serve, bring to room temperature or heat gently.
1 1/3 cups dry chick-peas, about 8 ounces1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil1 large yellow onion, minced1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped, about 1/2 cup, fresh or canned3 tablespoons tomato paste1 1/2 pounds spinach, stems removed and chopped2 garlic cloves, minced1 tablespoon minced fresh mintSalt and freshly ground black pepperCrusty bread
Pick over the chick-peas and discard any stones. Cover with water and soak for 8 hours overnight. Drain and place in a saucepan with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Simmer until the skins begin to crack and the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Drain.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until very soft, 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Add the spinach and chick-peas and cook until the spinach is wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and mint and toss together. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, spoon the chick-peas and spinach on a platter and serve with crusty bread.
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