My bags sit empty, the cameras are not packed, and I have yet to secure the final book reading list. But before I head off to the Netherlands for a week I wanted to say a quick hello and goodbye. It didn’t seem right to keep these chickpeas from you any longer and I didn’t want you to worry if this space sits unattended while I’m skating along the canals, wondering quiet towns and tucking into cafes when the chill is no longer endearing.

I can’t say much about the trip now as I really have no idea what to expect. I will say that I am so excited I can hardly think straight. I am traveling with my grandparents and some aunts and uncles to my grandfather’s hometown. This will be the first time I’ve visited the place where my family began and to experience that with my grandparents is incredibly thrilling. I’ll meet many relatives, stock up on chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag), and take a quick detour to Belgium for chocolate, waffles, frites, and beer. I welcome any and all suggestions on what’s not to be missed.

In all my previous travel experiences my blond hair and blue eyes have been a glaring beacon to the fact that I’m not a local. In the Netherlands I am looking forward to feeling right at home. I’m eager to taste the food that raised my grandfather and my great-grandparents and enjoying it all in the presence of family.

For now there are chickpeas. Spicy ones at that. I’m on a quick meal kick as I’ve been frantically crossing things off the to do list and fitting in as many snuggles as the littles will allow in anticipation of this trip. With all the ingredients on hand this meal comes together in minutes but carries with it a hearty, warm spice thanks to harissa. Mine comes from Morocco but you can get your harissa at fine grocery stores or online. It’s a perfect healthy winter dinner but I imagine in the Summer I’ll see it again, chilled, Β in my picnic basket.

I’m looking forward to wandering unfamiliar streets and taking more photos than I know what to do with. Until then, I leave you with chickpeas.



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Harissa Chickpeas with spinach


In anticipation of rich foods and unhealthy eating habits while traveling I’ve been stocking up on simple, healthy meals like this one. I imagine I’ll see a nice big bowl of this upon my return.Β 

The amount of harissa is really personal preference so please feel free to adjust the amount I suggest.


2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 15oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained

1 1/2 teaspoons harissa paste (more is fine too)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 Tablespoon chopped, fresh mint

2 cups fresh spinach



Add olive oil to to a medium saute pan, saute garlic until fragrant and golden, about two mintues. Add harissa and cook another minute. Stir in chickpeas and salt then simmer mixture for about 5 minutes – until any liquid has evaporated and chickpeas are tender. Turn off heat and toss in mint and spinach. Stir and let the residual heat wilt the spinach slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve immediately with a hefty scoop of greek yogurt.

65 Responses to “Dinner in 15: Harissa Chickpeas with spinach”

  1. Shaina

    Do enjoy your trip! It was always my dream to be able to travel back to my grandparents’ birthplace with them so they could help me relive their experience. Have an amazing time, Ashley!

  2. Natashia@foodonpaper

    Your trip sounds like it’s going to be amazing! And thank you for these quick 15 minute meals – in a world where cooking healthy quickly is not easy, these recipes are just what I need!

  3. la domestique

    I love a simple pantry meal like this one, and the scoop of yogurt is such a welcome accompaniment to a spicy dish. This week at la Domestique is dedicated to cooking with dried chilies during winter, and harissa will definitely be on the menu! Have a wonderful, safe trip.

  4. Stephanie S

    After all the Super Bowl food I shouldn’t be tempted by more, but chickpeas are my favorite food ever. Seriously, ever. I eat them any way, in any cuisine, because they are perfect. And harissa could only make them better! Thanks for all the wonderful inspirations in the kitchen and enjoy your trip!

  5. Jenni

    Oh, the trip of a lifetime! Hope it’s full of delightful meals. I’m a bit of a wimp with the heat, but maybe I could add a smidge of harissa and give this a whirl. The spinach/mint/chick pea combo sounds refreshing.

  6. Marieke

    I hope you enjoy your trip. I’m Dutch and still living in The Netherlands. Winter has finally descended upon us so I hope you pack warm clothes! I don’t know which places you’re going to visit, but hope you’ll see Utrecht, my beautiful home town and in my opinion one of the best cities of the country! Oh and be prepared for ice-skating madness… Have fun!

  7. Katie

    Yum, this looks so good! And I just happen to have been gifted with a jar of green harissa. It’s a dry spice blend though, not a paste. Perhaps I could just add some olive oil to some of it and create a harissa paste?

    Have the best time in Holland! I’m Canadian living in Sweden and we sometimes skip over to Amsterdam for the weekend, it’s such a fun city. Bundle up!

  8. genevieve

    I’ve been looking for that special something to warm up to during the cold snap in London, and I think this is it! Looks delicious. Have a wonderful trip!

  9. Mark

    hey i hope you have a great time over here…i don’t know how much time you’re going to be spending in amsterdam, but there’s a “things to do in amsterdam” page on my blog that has some pretty reliable addresses….of course feel free to ask specific questions…

  10. Joyce

    I used to live in Holland! You must try the ham and kaas (ham and cheese) it is a staple at all cafes. Also the stroopwaffles are pretty amazing too but make sure you get them fresh at the market. I loved living in Leiden and would recommend a visit there, it is a perfectly quaint untouched dutch city. You are right, you will fit in. My family is part dutch and it’s the only place I really felt like I didn’t stick out. Have a nice trip!

  11. Gaby

    when in Holland you most definitely need to try savory pancakes (served for dinner, not breakfast :-)), poffertjes piled high with powdered sugar and bitterballen served with grainy mustard. of course, Holland’s historical ties to countries including Indonesia, Suriname, Turkey, and the Dutch Caribbean (Morocco too – but I read you have already been!) means it has been home to numerous generations stemming from these various cultures, so it’s also a great place to sample cuisines of places you may not have had the chance to travel to yet. veel (eet) plezier!

  12. Susan Hill

    How exciting for you! We lived in Oegstgeest, Nederland for two years and it was probably one of the most wonderful experiences of my life! The people are warm and welcoming and the cheese, wine, and customs are amazing. We met many good friends while there.

    Things you should not miss (depending on how much time you have);
    Amsterdam – the Anne Frankhuis, the Rijksmuseum – in the museum quarter of Amsterdam, the Oude Kerk.
    Kinderkijk – visit the windmills (breathtaking and amazing).
    Den Haag – the Mauritshuis while you are there
    Leiden – open market for the day (Leiden has a great one) and they have a beautiful church – Pieterskerk
    Apeldoorn – visit Paleis Het Loo (beautiful)…..
    Muiden – Muiderslot or any castle…amazing!
    Delft – the Delft factory.

    Things you can do on your way; walk the canals; buy some of the beautiful flowers while you are there; have some cheese, bread, and Dutch coffee for breakfast; try the different types of Gouda; rent a bike to ride to your destinations.

    Food to try; the CHEESE, the WINE, fresh North Sea mussels from the Fish Monger, oliebollen, a traditional pannekoeken, herring, buttered sole….

    I could go on, it is such a rich historical country and the culture and traditions are endearing. We were so lucky to live there and experience the way of life the Dutch people still hold dear. My milk was delivered in a glass bottle to my door every day! I hope you have a glorious, wonderful time there with your family!! It will be very cold and damp, so bundle up! Can’t wait to hear about it upon your return! Safe travels!

  13. erin @ from city to farm

    That looks wildly ridiculously good, which is tough to do with such a healthy meal…but then I’m a fan of every single ingredient, so I suppose I might be biased.

    Have a fabulous trip (PS. love that you link to new posts on FB, always a fun surprise, and no matter how little time I have to read, your photos always draw me in.)

  14. MG Atwood

    I love hearing of special time with grandparents. *sigh* I want to be that grandparent. Wait! I think I am! We will lift our umbrellas to you and your adventure. Can’t wait to see the photos. Safe travels.

  15. Jacqui

    Meals like this I always keep in constant rotation, they are so comforting this time of year! Have a great time in the Netherlands! I’ve always wanted to go and I can’t wait to see you pictures from there.

  16. Erica

    That salad looks delicious! I love the contrast between the green of the spinach against the bright white of the yogurt and yellow chickpeas. Have a good trip!

  17. Kathleen

    That’s one delicious looking salad that I will definitely be trying soon! Can you make harissa paste by just adding water to ground harissa spices?

    I echo the food recommendations about the Netherlands. I lived in Monnickendam for a year as an exchange student and went to school in Amsterdam. It was one of their coldest winters ever and I got to skate a lot. If you are so lucky to have ice (which is looking good!), this is an unbeatable experience. Some skating, stopping to warm up at a little food stand on the ice, more skating. It’s unbelievably fun and beautiful. My husband just joked that we should leave our two boys with a sitter and go skate this week. Oh, how I wish I had a Concord and a lot of money πŸ™‚

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Kathleen – I added olive oil and water to mine. It turned out beautifully. I skated without skates. πŸ™‚ Doesn’t really count but it was fun none the less. Sort of wonderfully creepy to be standing on a frozen lake. Not quite cold enough for the big skating competition in Friesland but we weren’t much looking forward to dealing with the estimated 2 million visitors it would draw anyway.

  18. Alison

    How fun Ashley!!! I’m so excited for you. The Netherlands is one of the few countries I have visited and I loved it!! If you’ve read The Hiding Place or know of Corrie Ten Boom, you have to visit her home, the old watch shop. It’s so amazing to actually see it and get the tour. I love her story! I loved the food, but watch out for cafes in Amsterdam that aren’t exactly serving coffee πŸ˜‰ haha. You’ll see what I mean. Have a blast! I can’t wait to hear all about it!!

  19. Cookie and Kate

    Happy travels, Ashley! How thrilling to visit your ancestral home with family. I’m crazy for chickpeas and have heard wonderful things about harissa latelyβ€”I think it’s time to track some down for this recipe!

  20. wmbg

    this just sounds divine. i love harissa and the deep flavors with warm chickpeas and cool greek yogurt… perfect.

  21. Kasey

    Sounds like a fantastic trip, Ashley! I can’t wait for your thoughts and photos!! These chickpeas sound similar to a dish I make quite frequently…it’s so simple, yet so nourishing. As for recommendations, I think you would love Brugges (in Belgium). It is one of the most picturesque cities I have ever been to.

  22. joey

    This looks marvelous! And the Netherlands, wow! Enjoy your trip!! I love the raw herring they sell on the streets, but it’s not for everyone…their pancakes for sure, bitterballen at a brown cafe, the Rijksmuseum, and the Kaaskamer a little gem of a cheese shop in the 9 streets area of Amsterdam. Also, when I am in Amsterdam I always like to bring home a couple of bottles of stroop πŸ™‚

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Joey – Thanks so much for the recommendations. They came in handy. BITTERBALLEN!!! Where has it been all my life?! Unfortunately I didn’t spend much time in Amsterdam but I plan to in the future.

  23. Ashley

    Netherlands?? Amazing!! What an experience to travel with your family to where your family is from. I’ve never tried harissa, but this looks excellent. Have a great trip!

  24. Heather

    Oh, I can already tell this will be a winner! Fast, easy, delicious with a kick. Thanks, and have a wonderful trip.

  25. Linsey

    You are such a gem, Ashley–I have all of this in my fridge, and now I know what’s for dinner tomorrow night. (And lunch the following day!) Thanks for making my 15 minute dinner too.

    Traveling mercies!

  26. D. @ Outside Oslo

    I hope your trip is fantastic. It was so special to visit Norway, where my family is from, for the first time several years ago. Even when one has grown up with elements of the heritage by relatives at home, actually being in the country makes it come alive even more vividly. Looking forward to hearing about the trip and seeing photos.
    The chickpeas sound excellent too!

  27. Julie

    Belgium! You’ll love it. Haven’t been since I was 15, but my Dad is Belgian. The beaches are superb, as is the food!

  28. Melissa

    How exciting!! Be sure to ask them for stories about your ancestors. I wish I could go back in time and get those stories from my grandparents.
    Enjoy your trip!

  29. Kimberley

    I am obsessed with harissa right now, and I happen to have a bunch of chickpeas on hand too. Hope you are having (or have had) the grandest time in the Netherlands.

  30. Lorna

    Hello Ashley, Harissa on tabouna bread, with a little olive oil is a regular little snack here and of course we love our chickpeas too in Tunisia! I hope you are having the most wonderful time, but I do hope that you will be back soon. I am suffering withdrawal symptoms from your blogposts! Love Lorna X

  31. Yasmine

    This is a lovely recipe – thanks for sharing! I didn’t have spinach on hand when I got the recipe in my inbox, so I used the kale we had in the fridge. It was delicious. I’ve since tried with spinach and can’t decide which I like better. πŸ™‚

  32. Olga

    Delicious, the mint added such a nice flavor to the dish. I didn’t have harrisa paste so I used harrisa blended spice mix and added some water.
    Sprinkled it with some lime juice and pumpkin seeds for extra crunch. Yumm


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