Sometimes you need something that is quick to throw together and sticks to your belly like muck on a lavatory, and honestly, despite that unsavoury opening, this recipe for spinach and chickpea will do the trick. Doesn’t sound like the most exciting in the world, but it’s grand – nicely spicy, no meat and just yessss.
Before we get to the razzmatazz of the recipe, a note about our new book which is available to pre-order on Amazon and WH Smith now. There’s only a couple of weeks to go before this colourful little bugger is in your hands. If you pre-order now by clicking the banner below, if the price drops between then and now, you’ll pay the lower price! We get asked a lot why we didn’t release at Christmas and I would have thought the answer obvious: if someone bought me a ‘lose weight’ cookbook for Christmas, they’d have it pushed up their fundament. So that’s the reason, plus you know, we need time to write these and get the swearwords past our publishers. So! Don’t delay, do order today. If you loved our last book, and so many did, you’ll find even more of us in here!
Anyway, enough admin. Can we discuss hotel breakfasts? For me, the best part of staying in a hotel, aside from leisurely scattering bodily fluids all over someone else’s duvet and stealing everything that isn’t welded down, is the hotel breakfast. Long-time readers will also know that a Premier Inn breakfast is, to me, the pinnacle of good eating: as you’ve seen from both my waistline and my marital indiscretions I believe in quantity over quality, and being able to graze at a trough of heat-lamp solidified Costco fare is an absolute treasure. As it happens, I had cause to find myself in a Premier Inn a while ago (post first lockdown, so shush, snitches get stitches from bitches) and aside from my room being so far from the reception that going out for a cigarette meant crossing two tier levels, it was grand. I live for moments cast in electric magenta. My friend Tall Paul, of similar heft and capacity for eating, was joining me for breakfast.
How can it be possible to get every single item on a breakfast wrong? It was like a Dali interpretation of what a good cooked breakfast should be. Case in point: the toast. When we have previously breakfasted together it is my job to fetch enough toast that the shareholders of Warburtons can book themselves another week in St Moritz. That’s fine: I’m the master of working two rotary toasters at once and make skipping between the two into an elegant polyester ballet. It’s not a taxing affair, yet somehow in the haste to deny us all pleasures in life thanks to COVID, they’ve taken away that responsibility from the customer. You now have to owlishly ask for toast, tempering the amount you want lest the waiting staff wrinkle their noses in disgust and refer to you as Bacon-Tits in the kitchen.
Still, toast isn’t hard to get right, no? After forty minutes, Schrödinger’s Toast appeared: a sheet of midnight carbon on one side, totally uncooked on the other. It explained the wait at least, given they’d clearly prepared the toast by standing outside and holding it up to the December sun for thirty-five minutes like some sacrifice to the Yeast Gods before finishing it off in the blast zone of a nuclear atrocity. To make things worse, they had brought four tiny pats of butter for six slices of toast and everyone ought to know by now that this simply won’t do: we both spread our butter like a whore applies lipstick and we had to pester the waiter for more. He slapped it down on the table with a finality that suggested we weren’t to ask for anything else and a moment later, our breakfast was hurled onto the table with similar venom.
The bacon was one good vet away from resurrection, the hash-browns had all the structural integrity of an envelope full of custard and they even managed to bodge the beans up. Breakfast beans should be put into a saucepan and gently heated for approximately four days before being served, so the sauce goes as thick as a welder’s apron and leaves little red kisses in the corner of your mouth. This is especially pertinent with my dining companion as looking at the food smeared into his beard is my only reassurance he’s eating properly. Instead, we were given beans that suggested that the cook had parcelled them out individually moments earlier, perhaps wearisome of oncoming rationing measures. Not usually a disaster but when beans serve as the only moisture available on the plate, it becomes far more consequential. I’d have had a wetter mouth if I’d tucked into a plate of those silica balls that come with my boots.
They had made an attempt to gussy up the tomato by cutting it with pinking shears but frankly, if it didn’t work for my circumcision, it’ll do nothing for an ice-cold tomato. And the sausages: a good sausage is either (a) pink, cylindrical and devoid of any identifiable meat bar an eyelash or valve or (b) made with care and attention from animals that get tucked in at night by a kindly nanny. The middle ground is a waterbed of meh and it was in that meh that the sausages bobbed like turds in the sea.
But honestly, it was the egg that finished us off. A fried egg should be white and firm on the outside, with a sealed yolk that you can excitedly dip your toast into. Salt should be liberally applied either via the vessel on the table or your own thankful tears. What we were served was almost a magician’s trick: the perfect looking fried egg indeed, but one that you couldn’t dip your toast into even if you applied it to the sharp end of a wish.com pneumatic drill. I’ve never known an egg fight back – it was as though they had cast it from plaster. My friend likened it to those plastic facsimiles of food you get in the windows of restaurants in Tokyo and I was minded to agree, though disagreeing with him is never truly an option anyway, unless you like to be told why you’re wrong over the course of fifteen minutes, three slideshows and a ‘discussion’ that ends with him looking at you with a sage expression, resting his hand on your shoulder and shaking his head sadly whilst you boil with barely-masked incredulity.
Naturally, as we are British and fat, we ate everything put in front of us and were fully prepared to reassure the waiting staff how delightful the food was had they bothered to check in.
With the main plate finished, my mate nipped outside to smoke, such as he does treat eating as an interruption to his smoking regime rather than the other way around, and I was left alone to my own devices. Of course this is where the waiter took a moment to come over and whether he could get us anything else. I resisted the urge to ask for a pre-emptive air ambulance ride to the nearest gastrointestinal unit and instead requested, somewhat tremulously, some yoghurt. He met my gaze and said ‘cumpit‘ with a raised eyebrow. I confess, I was shocked and at once wondered how he knew – perhaps house-keeping had let him know the state of my room in advance – before realising he was actually saying compote in that gloriously bewildering accent where every syllable is murdered twice over before arriving at the lips. I agreed with him that it would be a sensible addition and he returned moments later with a bowl of yoghurt and a tiny bowl of berries which, rather like the toast, managed to exist in two states at once. I’ve never had my lips frozen and burned at the same time, and I’ve kissed Paul’s mother.
Breakfast finished, we both agreed to never speak of it again, chalk it down as an anomaly and, should the moment take us later, leave a snotty review on Twitter or suchlike. However, neither of us are petty enough to remember the detail, so I’ve simply and reasonably settled for a 1,200 word bitchfit on my blog instead.
Speaking of poorly presented food, here’s the spinach and chickpea stew, actually looking bloody beautiful!
How’s that for a plate full of stodge? But it’s so damn fine! Try our spinach and chickpea stew, or shush.
Only one syn, and you can leave the apricots out of the spinach and chickpea stew to make it syn-free!
It’s like a super quick tagine, this spinach and chickpea stew!
spinach and chickpea stew
Yield 4 servings
Warming, slightly spicy, mixed with a tonne of feta - this spinach and chickpea stew is bloody fine!
We've adapted another of Hello Fresh's recipes to make it a bit easier on the waistline and the pocket. This spinach and chickpea moroccan style stew combines a few of our most favourite things and is so rich, you'll love it. If you want to give Hello Fresh a go you can use this magic link to get £20 off, and also send £20 our way n'all. Cheers!
By the way, we ain't on a kickback from Hello Fresh, but until we're out of Chubby Towers Adjacent, it's all we have!
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 dried apricots, roughly chopped (4 syns)
- 2 tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 240g couscous
- 500ml passata
- 500g baby spinach
- 160g reduced fat feta cheese (HEA x4)
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp tomato purée
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- crumble half of the stock cube over the couscous and pour over 480ml of boiling water, and stir well
- cover and set aside
- spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
- add the onion to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened
- add the garlic, paprika, tomato puree, chilli flakes, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, pepper and cinnamon to the pan along with the dried apricots and cook for one minute
- stir in the passata and 100ml of water along with the remaining half of the stock cube and bring to a simmer
- add the chickpeas to the pan and continue to simmer for another 4-5 minutes
- stir in the baby spinach in handfuls and cook until fully wilted
- fluff up the couscous and add half of the parsley
- serve the couscous in bowls and top with the stew, crumbled feta and the remaining parsley
- the original recipe uses 'tagine paste' which we've never come across in the supermarket, but the spices in this are almost identical. If you can find tagine paste however feel free to use that instead - you'll need about 2 tbsp
- if you aren't a fan of feta a bit of natural yoghurt with a bit of salt added will add a nice alternative tang
- OUR BRAND NEW COOKBOOK IS COMING OUT SOON! You thought the last one was good? It was, but this sequel is even better - it'll be coming out just in time for the new year! Preorder yours here!
- our first slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 3000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
- our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedbacks
- finely mince that garlic with ease - get a Microplane grater and you’ll use it every day!
- give the pan a good coating of oil with a mister – this is what we use
Delicious right? Want more vegetarian recipes? Have a gander at these:
- lemon and garlic sautéed mushrooms (syn free)
- bulgur wheat salad with superfree veg (syn free)
- super speed berry breakfast (syn free)
- tomato soup (syn free)
- fruit skewers (syn free)
- spicy red pepper and tomato soup (syn free)
- lentil and vegetable soup (syn free)
- tomato salad with roasted spicy chickpeas (syn free)
- spinach dip (syn free)
- fruit basket (syn free)
- fresh bbq sauce (syn free)
- syn free pizza (syn free)
- caramelised leeks, marmite and parmesan stack (syn free)