chickpeas2

I like beans, I really do. Every January I resolve to eat more of them, but it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. You do the pintos with Mexican food, white beans for French or Italian soups, and you cook with summer savory, the so-called “bean herb” when you’re stumped — though I can’t say the stuff does much for me.

That’s why it’s so exciting to find that chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, have so much more to offer. A couple months ago I bought a sack of dried from Alvarez Farms, and I love just how many options there are with these guys. Toss with basil for a cool summer salad. Mash with parsley to make falafel. Braise with ginger and cilantro, or with leeks. Cook quickly with fried sage, then toss with olive oil and a bit of garlic — they’re tasty over chunky pasta, though not everybody agrees on this last point.

And they taste different every time. Not to mention that they’re amazing cooked down with pork fat, but let’s go there some other time.

One especially easy preparation is this Jerry Traunfeld special, where the chickpeas are fried quickly with rosemary and sea salt. They come out crunchy, salty, and yes, delightfully savory, a perfect way to start a meal.

Recipe: Popped Chickpeas

Olive oil / 1 cup cooked chickpeas / 2 tsp minced rosemary / 1 tsp minced garlic / big pinch sea salt / pepper to taste

Heat 2 tbls olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high. When oil is hot, add chickpeas and cook, stirring, for several minutes. The skins should start to brown in places. Sprinkle with rosemary, garlic, sea salt and pepper and continue cooking about 2 minutes more, then drain and serve. Adapted from Jerry Traunfeld.

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