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This Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d give you a little insight into my personal life. You see, my boyfriend and I have very different ideas about some important topics, but our most polarizing views are over what makes a good meal. We’re both to blame, really. I’m all snotty with my charcuterie and cucumber martinis. He’s all stubborn with his Chili’s Boneless Buffalo Wings and Bud Lights. So when I try to explain to him my love for tapas, he just doesn’t get it. “Oh, it’s a small plate. How fancy! Applebee’s has small plates too; they call them appetizers,” he mocks. He has that writer’s wit, so I let him get away with mocking me. Make me laugh, and you can do no harm. And so, somehow, it works. Because let’s be honest, there are times when I too enjoy a little buffalo in my life. And there are times when he’ll begrudgingly admit he enjoys a little charcuterie. Still, I’m guilty of constantly trying to trick him over to my side. This dish is my attempt to explain to him the difference between tapas and Chili’s Triple Dipper combo.

This dish was inspired by a plate I had about a year back at one of my favorite tapas restaurants while I was staying in Chicago for work. The lemon and gently wilted spinach give it nice light freshness, while the chorizo infuses the dish with a deliciously subtle spiciness and smokiness. But let’s be frank—bread and broth is really just the quintessential comfort food, and for me that’s the best part. It takes me back to grilled cheese and tomato soup days. And weren’t those the days? Pile the spinach, bean, and chorizo mix on top of crusty bread and sop up all of that brothy goodness. I promise you’ll forget your eating spinach and beans.

I also love the versatility of a dish like this. You can make it with a bunch of other small plates for a tapas party. You can make it as a fancy appetizer, a nice side, or even as a main course. You can also use this technique to try a number of different flavors. I’ve wanted to try it with roasted butternut squash, toasted pumpkin seeds, and wilted kale. Try that and let me know how it goes, will you? Maybe drop some off at my doorstep too.

Hope Valentine’s Day finds you happy and full from delicious food and [most importantly to this girl] delicious dessert. And may your subtle ploys to morph boyfriends and husbands into foodies result in sweet, little victories.

The Ingredients

Serves 4 as appetizer/snack
8 half inch slices of French Bread, sliced diagonally for crostini and toasted
1 link of Chorizo sausage (about 2-3 oz)
1 tbsp garlic (I like it really garlicy—you can use less if you don’t)
1 cup of cannellini beans (white beands)
Juice of half of one lemon
¼ cup good quality chicken broth
2 cups fresh baby spinach
Salt and Pepper to taste

The Directions

  1. Begin by crumbling chorizo into a medium sauté pan and browning over medium heat. Do not drain. You’ll use the fat rendered from the sausage to build the flavor of the broth. The small amount of chorizo being used won’t product too much fat.

  2. Add garlic to sauté pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans. Add them to the sauté pan. Allow mixture to cook for a few minutes.

  4. Add lemon juice and chicken broth to the sauté pan and bring to a simmer.

  5. Wilt in the spinach into the mixture. Remove from heat when spinach is ¾ of the way wilted. If needed, add salt and pepper to taste. Be careful because spinach absorbs salt very easily and can quickly become over seasoned.

  6. Toast bread in toaster oven or under the broiler until crispy and brown.

  7. Serve hot with broth. Spoon broth and mixture over crostini and enjoy. J