Recipe: Chickpea, spinach and saffron stew

Recipe - Chickpea, spinach and saffron stew

Our Spanish inspired vegan recipe this month uses ingredients grown locally over here in Spain, but which are also commonly found all over the world now in supermarkets or markets near you. Warming and filling, this chick pea, spinach and saffron stew brings strength to your body and gives you smooth long-lasting energy, and we hope it brings you a little bit of sun to your table this autumn.

Saffron is native to Spain and Southern Europe, and it is used in a number of Spanish dishes to bring both colour and a distinctive flavour. You can buy it as a powder or in strands. If you have strands of saffron, we suggest that you soak them for a little time in a few tablespoons of warm water, to let the colour and flavour come out. It can be expensive, but you only need a small amount to make a difference to this dish.

Chickpeas (also known as garbanzos) are an important part of the Spanish diet and have many health benefits. For people following a plant based diet, chickpeas are a great source of protein. They are also high fibre, so by eating chickpeas regularly, you will look after your digestive tract, helping to prevent against constipation or maybe colorectal cancer. Nutritionally, they provide your body with iron, calcium and phosphate. To help better absorb the iron, remember to also eat it will a substance high in vitamin C, like peppers and tomatoes. Eating chickpeas can help to reduce LDL cholesterol – read this months article on how to reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol here.

Although at first glance this recipe has lots of ingredients, most you will have as standard in your store cupboard. If you do not have the smoked paprika, simply use normal paprika instead. Make sure you use cooked chickpeas for this recipe – if you want to use dried chickpeas remember to soak them in cold water overnight (the night before you want to make this recipe), then drain and cook them for around 60 minutes (check the instructions on the packet). Or, to save time, you can purchase precooked chickpeas – remember to drain and rinse well.

Recipe: Chickpea, spinach and saffron stew

Serve this dish with your favourite grain (rice, millet or couscous are great) or mashed sweet potato. Add cayenne or chili to give extra heat. This recipe serves 4 generous portions. It contains 1142 calories or 285 per serving.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper (green or yellow), finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoon cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 large tin whole peeled tomatoes, reserve the juice
2 tsp ground saffron, if using strands a good pinch
½ tsp chili or cayenne powder
1 cup water
1 cup tomato juice
1 tbsp rice syrup
Juice from ½ lemon
2 tsp dried basil
Touch fresh ground black pepper
400g (2 cups) cooked chick peas
Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 cups baby spinach, shredded


Cook the onion in the olive oil (or water) on a low heat for 10 minutes, you want the onions to start going a little brown.

Whilst the onion is cooking, drain the tinned tomatoes (saving the tomato juice). Break up the tomatoes with your hands, leaving them in quite large chunks. Place in a small bowl to one side.

Returning to the onion pan, add in the pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add in the garlic, cumin, paprika, and cook for another minute. Add the red wine vinegar and stir. Add the broken up tomatoes, and stir well. Allow the tomatoes to heat through (and start to bubble), then add the saffron, chili or cayenne powder, water, tomato juice, rice syrup, lemon, dried basil and black pepper. Bring the mixture to the boil then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir in the cooked chick peas and fresh parsley, and cook for a further 3 to 5 minutes, making sure the chickpeas are completely heated through. Just before serving, stir in the shredded spinach.

Read more about plant-based food at La Crisalida Retreats here.

Enjoy this recipe!


Owner and Founder
La Crisalida Retreats

About the author

Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).