I made this as part of my lunch today…in less than 5 minutes! Granted, I had cooked chickpeas on hand and I had a jar of harissa in the refrigerator. But that does not change the fact that in a very short amount of time, I had a lovely side dish and was eating it. Think to your own situation. Is it possible to keep a can of cooked chickpeas on hand, or better yet, get a pressure cooker and keep some handy? Do you have room in your refrigerator to store a pint jar full of harissa, which will keep well for months. Would this inconvenience you in any way? To me, any inconvenience that could come out of these things seems easily offset by having the ability to quickly produce such a tasty thing to eat.
I guess the point that I am trying to make is this; if you stock your kitchen with the sauces and basics that you use regularly in your cuisine (regardless of what type of food you cook), preparing simple meals is trivial. After all, to make a compelling side dish, all you need to do is grab one sauce, two ingredients, a pan, and oil. “From scratch” cooking has so much unnecessary baggage attached to it. It is not hard and is actually faster than ordering fast food. Oh, and you get the benefit of having an end product is much more wholesome (and likely lower in calories/sodium) and over which you have complete creative control. Your food will be good for you and, very importantly, it will taste the way that you prefer.
Enough of that; off to the food. There are three ingredients to this dish: chickpeas, harissa, and spinach. Chickpeas have a fantastic nutty flavor and are really satisfying. This side relies on quickly frying them in a high-temperature oil (peanut oil for me) to accent the natural flavor and, importantly, to dry the chickpeas out a little. The second ingredient, is added to the sizzling peas and the frying continues for another minute or so to dry the dish a bit and make the chili in the harissa a bit more aromatic. When your dish smells nice and aromatic, toss in the third ingredient, spinach, and cook just long enough to wilt it. You are done with the speediest psuedo-curry ever. Just plate it and dig in. You will have created a rich, nutty dish with deep chili overtones. The spinach acts to a clean note to the flavor profile. Very special and very simple.
Let us know about any simple preparation like this that you make regularly. A lot of times for us, these dishes are accidents of convenience. Literally the product of someone (usually ravenous) trying to scab together a meal with what is on hand. Oh, if you don’t know how to make harissa, this post describes the process. Have a good evening.
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1 to 2 Tbs. harissa
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 to 2 Tbs. peanut oil (or similar high-heat oil)
- Heat oil in medium skillet over high heat. Add chickpeas and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until moisture is somewhat removed.
- Add harissa and continue cooking for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat and serve.