Olivia Dish

Chickpeas Easy Peasey

In Cookbooks, Homemade on February 14, 2010 at 12:26 pm
chick peas

Lazy me--cooking these was embarrassingly easy

I had always been too lazy–and the cans too convenient. But last week, I finally decided to cook that bag of garbanzo beans in my pantry. It was very easy, I’m ashamed to say.

Yes, I soaked them–that had been one of the hurdles. Who could remember to soak beans? But I put them in water while I was making lunch; by dinnertime, the beans were ready for cooking.

That turned out to be no big deal either.  I remembered that some cable TV food guy recommended using the oven rather than the stove top, so I pulled out his first cookbook for the details.

I skipped all the flavoring, put my soaked beans in a pot with four cups of water and some salt, brought them to a boil on my cooktop, then put the lid on and transferred the pot of beans to the oven to cook at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half.

Chickpea perfection.  The smell alone was enthralling, a bit like bread baking. Now that I had a heap of beans, what to do with them?

Thanks to another cook, Mark Bittman, I saved the broth the beans had cooked in.  I cooled and refrigerated it all before bedtime.  Step one.

hummus

Hummus-much better with beans you cook instead of canned

Next, I scooped out two cups, plus some of the bean broth, and made hummus, using the recipe from A New Way to Cook as my starting point.  I make this hummus regularly with canned beans.  The recipe calls for adding 1/2 cup of water or reserved bean liquid.  This time, I had the bean juice on hand–and maybe that was part of the huge difference in taste. Using these beans I’d cooked improved the hummus so seriously it’s hard to imagine going back to canned. Instead of being a vehicle for the other flavors–tahini, lemon, garlic–the garbanzo beans actually added something.

toasting chickpeas

Olive oil, kosher salt, hot oven=toasted chickpea snack

But still, I had a lot of beans left.  Next I tried toasting them in the oven.  I’d read that toasted chickpeas make a great snack. A number of recipes recommend tossing them in olive oil and a blend of spices, but I wanted to keep it simple–olive oil and kosher salt.  Just spread on a baking sheet and put into a 375 degree oven and it’s ready in half an hour….but….

But.  One, if you try making them, let them get as brown as possible.  Only the dark brown ones were crunchy; the pale golden ones were still chewy.  And two, I found them a little flavorless and disappointing (thus all the recipes with spice blends, right?). I’ll probably not bother to do this again.

And still I have beans left.

Next on the slate, my variation on chicken bog.  A couple of years ago, my friend Whit DeSpoon and I needed a vegetarian dish for a party we were organizing.  We were planning to serve chicken bog, so I experimented with a version that replaced the meat–mushroom broth instead of chicken broth; black soy beans, soy sauce and fresh sage to stand in for the sausage; and chickpeas instead of chicken.  Chickpea bog was born.

We liked it enough that I now make chicken bog with my homemade chicken stock,  the best sweet Italian sausage, little or no chicken, and chickpeas. It’s easy to throw together, but if you want specifics, I’ve put both recipes here. I plan to use a mix of chicken stock and bean broth on this next batch, so I’m curious to see how that influences the flavor along with the beans I cooked.

I was also curious to know why they’re called both chickpeas and garbanzo beans. Chickpea traces back through the French to the Latin word “cicer,” apparently the same origin as the name Cicero. Garbanzo’s origins are a little fuzzier; there’s a possible Greek source or perhaps it comes from a Basque word “garbantzu.”

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