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Sautéed Spinach and Chickpeas with Chicken Meatballs

Sautéed Spinach and Chickpeas with Chicken Meatballs is a great way to get dinner on the table fast. Loaded with a ton of flavor, this pita salad with garbanzos and spinach is a healthy dinner that everyone loves!

Spring has arrived, but my body is still in winter!

I still see snow in the front yard, but my crabapple is starting to bud.

Now is the time I start craving more fresh vegetables and healthy stuff even though the fresh produce I want to find has not yet made it into the grocery.

And after eating at this fun new Mediterranean restaurant in Denver my taste buds craved fresh flavors and great spices.

Hummus was on the menu along with a Sabich pita, which I’ve always wanted to try.

I can’t wait to make this for you-so, so good!

Anyway not having eggplant, but having plenty of chickpeas, meant this chickpea and spinach pita salad became dinner.

Chickpeas can be doctored up every which way and with 14 g of protein and 12 g of dietary fiber in every cup, they are very good for you!

Hello spring body!

I always keep dried chickpeas and cans of garbanzo beans in the pantry because they are awesome to add to just about anything.

And yes, chickpeas and garbanzos are the same thing. Garbanzo is the Spanish word for chickpea.

sauteed spinach and chickpeas pita salad in white salad bowl

And so it was I decided to make this sauteed spinach and chickpeas recipe.

With a bag of fresh spinach hiding in the fridge and chickpeas in the pantry and feeling the need for something fresh, I just went for it.

And truth is though I should be planning out what I post here on TIHIC, I often just write about what I ate for dinner.

So a few nights ago, this was dinner and a good one it was.

I knew it wouldn’t fly with Manservant if this dish didn’t have meat, so I added some Moroccan chicken meatballs and kept him happy.

This great recipe is basically a bread salad, but in this case I used Stacy’s pita chips.

Manservant buys them religiously at Costco and often eats them with peanut butter as his afternoon snack.

​(This is not tempting to me.)

I must say though that in this canned chickpeas dish they are awesome and had me craving more.

The fun thing about this recipe is that the chickpeas are baked in the oven with extra virgin olive oil.

Loaded with minced cloves of garlic, cumin, paprika, and plenty of salt, these chickpeas soak up plenty of flavor.

​They are worthy of being served as a side dish or would even be perfect over a bowl of rice.

baked chickpeas in olive oil in ramekin

However in this main course salad I added them to sauteed spinach which I cooked in the same large skillet as the chicken meatballs.

Not necessary, but totally good.

Don’t have spinach? Kale or chard work too as leafy greens.

This recipe needs paprika, but if you want to try a touch of smoke, add smoked paprika and hot paprika is good if you want this spicy!

Don’t want to deal with all the seasonings? 

Curry powder, baharat and ras el hanout add different flavors but next time I might try those!

So let’s get to it!

Key Ingredients you need for Sautéed Spinach and Chickpeas Pita Salad:

2 cans of chickpeas, drained and dried

​Olive oil


Cumin, Coriander (tastes lemony) and Paprika (smoked, hot, or not)


Kale, chard or spinach

Pita Chips

Italian parsley and fresh mint (I consider these essential as the make the flavors pop)

Zhoug (sauce made with cilantro, garlic and chilies) optional

Toum (garlic sauce) 

Tahini or Hummus


Red Pepper Flakes or Urfa or Aleppo chile flakes

spiced ground chicken meatballs on blue plate with tahini

Meatball Ingredients:


Garlic Cloves


Ground Chicken

Panko crumbs

An egg

Italian parsley



Cumin, Ginger, Cinnamon and Pine Nuts or Pistachios

Yes, many of the same ingredients in both!

sauteed spinach and chickpeas pita bowl with meatballs in white bowl

How To Make this Chickpea Salad with Pita:

Place the drained chickpeas in a small baking dish so they can be immersed in the olive oil.

Add seasonings and bake until the chickepeas are reddish-brown-about 40 minutes.

​Make the chicken meatballs by combining yogurt, garlic chicken, panko, egg, parsley, olive oil, sugar, paprika, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt and black pepper.

Form meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and fry in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, until golden brown all over, turning as you must.

Remove to a plate and set aside until ready to assemble.

In the same frying pan with the burner turned down to medium heat, add the greens and a good pinch of kosher salt. 

Stir until wilted and set aside.

In a large bowl mix the chick peas with the cooked greens, half the pita chips and the chopped herbs.

Top with the meatballs and cucumbers. 

Drizzle with tahini or hummus and dollop with garlic sauce or zhoug if using.

Sprinkle with pistachios or pine nuts and add a wedge of lemon on the side.

Fresh lemon juice adds to the flavor of this addicting dish.

suateed spinach and chickpeas pita bowl with chicken meatballs in white bowl

I know this looks like a lot of ingredients but this is a great weeknight dinner that comes together fast.

It helps to have hummus or tahini on hand, but they are both easily made and add a lot of flavor.

I get mine at Trader Joes along with zhoug and garlic sauce.

If you’ve not experimented much with chickpeas, I heartily recommend this savory dish. 

Whether you just make the sauteed spinach and chickpeas or if you just make the chicken meatballs, both are great on their own over a bed of greens or white or brown rice.

And if you don’t want a pita salad make my easy homemade pita to serve with.

Honestly, they would be superb stuffed into pitas, too!

Enjoy my welcome to spring dish, and let me know what you think of my chickpea dinner recipe!

Need More Chickpeas?

roasted chickpea snack

Roasted Chickpea Snack

Za'atar Chicken with chickpeas

Another version of chicken meatballs with chickpeas!

cauliflower with hummus and tahini

Roasted Caulifower Salad with Hummus and Chickpeas

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sauteed spinach and chickpeas salad pita bowl in white bowl

Sautéed Spinach and Chickpeas Pita Salad with Chicken Meatballs

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  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 Minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean


I adore these chickpeas baked in olive oil. Perfect when mixed with sauteed spinach and topped with chicken meatballs, this chickpea pita salad is great for an easy dinner!


Units Scale

2 15 oz cans well drained chickpeas

3/4 to 1 c olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves

1 t ground cumin

1 t ground coriander

1 t paprika (hot, sweet or smoked)

Salt and Pepper

1 T olive oil

10 ounces washed spinach, kale or chard with thick stems removed

3 c store-bought pita chips

Handful of Italian Parsley and Mint rough chopped

1 large cucumber, sliced


Spiced Chicken Meatballs

1/3 c Greek yogurt

4 cloves minced garlic

2 t fresh lemon juice

Salt and Pepper

1 lb ground chicken

1/2 c Panko bread crumbs or matzo meal

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3 T minced Italian parsley plus garnish

1 T olive oil for frying

1 t sugar

1 t sweet paprika

1/2 t cumin

1/2 t ground ginger

1/4 t cinnamon


Feta Cheese (optional)

Chopped Tomatoes (optional)

Hummus or Tahini Sauce

Zhoug, Toum garlic sauce, optional

3 T chopped, toasted pine nuts or pistachios

Aleppo or Urfa chile flakes for garnish and seasoning or red pepper chile flakes


Preheat oven to 425. Pour the chickpeas into a small baking dish about 6 x 8″. This will be a thick layer. Cover chickpeas with olive oil and remember that though this looks like a lot, this becomes your dressing for your salad.

Add garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika and 2 big pinches of salt and pepper. You may need more. Stir gently to combine. Bake until oil is bubbling around the chickpeas and they turn reddish-brown, about 40 minutes. Cool.

Make the chicken meatballs by combining all ingredients. Mix gently until incorporated. Form meatballs into 1 1/2″ balls.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and cook meatballs until golden brown on all sides. Be careful oil doesn’t get too hot. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil if needed and add the spinach or your choice of greens in batches along with a big pinch of salt. Stir until wilted and tender and remove to a large bowl.

Add the chickpeas and their cooking oil to the large bowl, half the pita chips and the fresh herbs reserving a small bit for garnish. Place cucumber slices around the bowl and top with meatballs. Drizzle with the tahini or hummus or both and scatter remaining pita chips on top. Top with meatballs, sprinkles of feta and tomatoes (if using) add zhoug or garlic sauce or place on table and diners can help themselves. Add a lemon wedge, sprinkle with pine nuts or pistachios and chile flakes. Serve with extra hummus or tahini on the side.


Thanks NYT for the inspiration.

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