Did you know that chickpeas are one of the earliest known cultivated legumes, tracing their ancestry back at least 7,000 years to the dawn of agriculture?
The Greeks seem to have quite a passionate and long-lasting love affair with the bean, as chickpeas have been found at Thessaly in the late Neolithic (about 3500 BC) Greece. It is also known that the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates made reference to the nutritional value of hummus in their writings. The humble legume, together with wheat, a variety of beans, lentils, chickpeas and split peas, “form the very foundation of the Greek diet and have done so since Neolithic times” according to Diana Farr Louis of Culinary Backstreets.
Health wise, chickpeas are an excellent source of high-quality protein, with a wide range of essential amino acids. Like most legumes have long been valued for their fibre content; in this case, between 65-75% of the fibre found in chickpeas is insoluble*. Chickpeas are a source of 10 different vitamins and essential minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.
Lately, it’s all about aquafava, that some go as far as saying that it actually is the new kale. This chickpea brine makes baking, cooking and cocktails without eggs much easier for vegans, those with allergies or looking for lighter options. This will be the subject of a future post however, in the meantime let’s enjoy this easy and nutritious recipe.
Chickpeas with spinach
1 kg spinach
1 onion (you could also add a couple of garlic gloves, if desired)
3 grated tomatoes
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil – we recommend using our 27oC evoo
Salt, pepper, oregano (you could also add cumin and paprika, if desired)
Initially, soak them overnight in a bowl of water and drain them the next day. In a pot heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion (and garlic) until soft. Add chickpeas, tomato and water to cover and cook until chickpeas are almost cooked. Wash and chop spinach and stir in the mix. Cook until wilted and bright green. Finally add salt, pepper, oregano and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes. It goes without saying that feta goes perfectly with this dish. Of course, try it with our raw Kalamata olives; we would recommend our wild green lemony ones or those with lemon and herbs.
You can find Greek chickpeas in our new shop at Borough Market, along with a great variety of pulses, such as lentils, giant beans and fava split yellow peas. Soon all available online.
* Insoluble fibre is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. It adds bulk to the stool and appears to help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines.