Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Give Chickpeas A Chance
To celebrate the arrival of my favorite month, I'd like to discuss my new favorite bean. Don't say I don't know how to party!
Anyway, the chickpea (also commonly known as the garbanzo bean) has been around for something like 7,000 years, but I just got into it about two weeks ago. I've had them before, but not until recently did I realize just how magical this little legume really is. It's loaded with protein and fiber, but despite its straight-A health food report card, the chickpea is easygoing, fun to cook, and above all delicious.
Currently, I'm using them in a brilliant salad recipe I found--where else?--on Serious Eats. The recipe calls for cooking the chickpeas in a skillet but I prefer roasting them at 350 degrees on a baking sheet with a little olive oil and salt for fifteen minutes. They sort of pop as they roast and they smell wonderful, like nutty popcorn. I like adding cooked shrimp to the salad but it's totally not necessary. Just make sure you use good feta.
The Italian word for chickpea is ceci. It's pronounced CHAY-chee, and when my friend Katherine and I were in Italy (buzzed on Negronis, naturally) we took every opportunity we could just to say the word. One particularly silly night, for some reason I can't recall now, I said to her "Pronto, Prego, Ceci!" and it became our slogan for the rest of the trip. As I said, it meant nothing, really, but now when I'm opening a can of them (I like Whole Foods 365 brand) I feel the urge to say it.
That's really neither here nor there, I know, but this is: Chickpeas also make a fantastic snack that you should try next time you're craving something crunchy. Roast them as directed above, but instead of taking them out of the oven after fifteen minutes, leave them in until they get hard and really dark brown, about thirty minutes or so. Then just toss them with more kosher salt (a sprinkle of chopped rosemary would probably also rock) and tell me that's not one amazing nosh.
Posted by Catherine