This peasant-style dish uses humble ingredients of the best quality
The origin of this dish is a tapas bar in Barcelona’s Boqueria food market, Pinotxo (named after its twinkly-eyed owner). For me, it epitomises the kind of peasant-style food I love, using humble ingredients of the best quality. Pinotxo uses wonderful dried chickpeas from a neighbouring stall, which are plump and succulent when cooked. As for the sauce, the black pudding melts into a silky, mineral-rich ragu.
Chickpea, black pudding and spinach ragu (pictured above)
If you can, buy dried chickpeas from a specialist supplier – you will be amazed at their quality. Ditto the black pudding. This recipe is at least thrice the sum of its parts.
Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr 30 min
300g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
75ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
1 leek, finely sliced
Salt and black pepper
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2-3 fresh bay leaves
1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
150g black pudding, roughly chopped
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
2-3 tbsp sherry vinegar
150g baby spinach
Lemon wedges, to serve
Drain the soaked chickpeas, then cover with plenty of cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 40‑50 minutes, until tender, then add half a teaspoon of salt to the water, stir and leave to cool. (If you haven’t had time to soak them overnight, add one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to their cooking water, and simmer for approximately 80 minutes, until tender.)
Warm the oil in a wide, deep pan over a medium-high heat, and add the onions and leek. Season generously, and fry gently for a few minutes before turning the heat down to medium and cooking until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and bay, and cook for another few minutes, then add the tomatoes, black pudding, cinnamon, paprika and two tablespoons of vinegar. Break up the black pudding with a spoon, then cook for 15 minutes, leaving the ingredients to bubble away together gently.
Drain the chickpeas, reserving a cup of the cooking water, then fold into the sauce. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, then continue to simmer for another five to 10 minutes, allowing the flavours to mingle. Add a little cooking water if the sauce looks too dry, and the remaining vinegar if it needs more sparkle.
When you are ready to eat, stir in the spinach and cook for a few minutes, until it has wilted into the sauce. Serve in bowls with lemon wedges, a slosh of extra-virgin olive oil and bread to mop up the sauce.
And for the rest of the week
This ragu is also good with rice, pasta (I like pappardelle), a green salad or, best of all, homemade patatas bravas. Consider cooking double the amount of chickpeas and freezing half, ready to whip out of the freezer for a midweek fix. Fry any leftover black pudding until golden, and toss in a salad of bitter leaves and crisp bacon, topped with a poached egg.