The Versatile Bean | Chickpeas

When I made these recently, I couldn’t help myself from nibbling on them once they had cooked most of the way: quickly snatching one at a time with asbestos fingertips from the top of the pot and popping it in my mouth, or Cherub’s, if she happened to wander through the kitchen.   They are surprisingly delicious as a snack.

I almost always hate to say how good something is for you.  People never want to eat it then, it can’t possibly taste good.  But these, in addition to being downright addictive and snackable, are full of protein, fiber and an impressive amount of trace minerals including 71% of your folate (anybody pregnant out there?).

They also work beautifully as a side dish to lamb or chicken with heady, Moroccan spices.  Or transformed, as I will later tonight, into falafel, which is an ideal meal for the meatless Fridays during Lent.  And you can always whip up leftovers into a quick batch of hummus.

I start with dried beans, which have been soaked for either a couple of hours or overnight, if I have the forethought.  After that, they are quite simple to make.  There aren’t any hard and fast rules either, so let creativity be your guide.  Start by sweating a sliced, medium onion in two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a pot or even a tagine.  Then add 3 cloves of finely diced garlic for a few minutes.  Then add 1.5 cups of chickpeas and enough water to submerge them completely.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Then add your spices.  I used a healthy shake of paprika and sumac (at least a tablespoon each), but turmeric and/or saffron would also be a luxurious color match.  You’ll need lots of salt and a little pepper (I don’t buy the salt-toughens-the-bean argument), as well as a squeeze of lemon juice.  Let it simmer away for about an hour and a half to two hours.  Top off the pan with water whenever it gets a little low. You could also very easily add all this into a slow cooker, just increasing the water.  Just before serving, add a nice handful of almonds, a large handful of chopped parsley and one of chopped fresh coriander.  It looks very beautiful and tastes fantastic.

Playlist includes Saint Christopher by Bibio.

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