Lebanese spinach & chickpeas with preserved lemon & maftoul recipe image

Print Lebanese spinach & chickpeas with preserved lemon & maftoul

Spinach is a great match for strong Middle Eastern and North African spicing. This is a very healthy dish, with chickpeas, apricots and cooling yoghurt to dollop on top.


  • 150g maftoul
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 onion
  • Oil for frying, e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 30g fresh parsley
  • 15g fresh mint
  • 300g spinach
  • 50g dried apricots
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Lebanese spice pot containing:
  • 1 tsp coriander,
  • 1 tsp cumin,
  • ½ tsp cinnamon,
  • ½ tsp paprika,
  • ½ tsp dried mint
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaf
  • Dollop yoghurt
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Put the maftoul in a separate smaller pan. Crumble in the stock cube and add 500ml of water. Bring up to a low boil. Cook for about 15 minutes, until just tender.
  2. Keep an eye on the liquid and top up if needs be. By the end you want almost all the liquid to be absorbed. If there’s any left, boil rapidly. Once done, keep to one side until the spinach and chickpeas are ready.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the onion. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the onion and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, until soft and translucent, stirring now and then to stop it catching. If it looks like it might, add a splash of water. Peel the garlic and finely chop, grate, or crush. Wash the fresh parsley and mint and shake or pat dry with kitchen paper. Roughly chop them up.
  4. Wash the spinach, pick off and discard any tough larger stalks. Roughly chop the apricots. Wash and roughly chop the tomatoes. Scoop the flesh out of the preserved lemon and discard it, then finely dice the rind (it’s this you want; the flesh is not used as it’s too salty). Once the pan of water boils, add the spinach and cook until wilted, 1-2 minutes.
  5. Drain, refresh immediately in a bowl of cold water, then drain again. Squeeze out any excess liquid (you’ll be left with a small green ball of spinach), then chop the leaves. Add the garlic and Lebanese spice pot to the onion. Fry for 2 minutes. While the garlic and spices are cooking, drain the chickpeas into a colander and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Rinse the chickpea tin out and keep it.
  6. Stir the chickpeas, tomatoes, apricots, preserved lemon and tomato purée into the onion mixture. Refill the chickpea tin half full with water and add that, along with three quarters of the chopped fresh herbs. Stir together then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chopped spinach, dried coriander leaf and stir to warm through.
  7. Season the spinach and chickpeas with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle over the rest of the fresh herbs. Serve with the maftoul and a good dollop of yoghurt.

Cooks notes

Our organic apricots are not sulphured, giving them a dark brown appearance. This is quite normal, and also means they have a much more natural and intense flavour.
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