Middle Eastern Chickpeas with Spinach

from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tsp chopped fresh mint (I omitted)
dash of salt

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin (I used 2 tsp)
pinch of saffron (I omitted)
1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, with liquid reserved (16 oz can) (I used close to two cups that I cooked myself)
10 oz fresh spinach, rinsed, stemmed, coarsely chopped (I used prewashed baby spinach, which should still be chopped)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Combine the yogurt, garlic, mint and salt in a bowl and set aside to blend the flavors.

In a large skillet [or heavy-bottomed pot], saute the onions in the oil on medium heat until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add the bell pepper, coriander, cumin, and saffrom, and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the chickpeas and 1/4 cup of their liquid and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the peppers are just tender, adding more of the reserved liquid if necessary. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach is bright and wilted. Stir in the lemon juice and add salt and pepper.

Serve immediately over orzo, topped with the yogurt sauce.

I omitted the saffron (expensive) and mint(didn't have any) and basically doubled the cumin. It's not very flavorful, it seems. Maybe omitting a few threads of saffron and some mint was a big deal. Maybe it needed more salt, since I used dried beans cooked from scratch instead of canned (which have added salt). More yogurt sauce (and less liquid) might help; the tanginess of the yogurt was a high point. Baby spinach should still be chopped. I didn't eat it over a grain as they suggest. I don't think it has enough flavor to carry bland rice or orzo anyway. Maybe pita on the side would work, though.