Friday, May 11, 2012
Chickpeas. Just chickpeas.
My love for chickpeas is well documented on this site, but I don't know if I've ever written about just plain chickpeas for dinner. It might sound a little crazy, but we like it a lot. It's kind of like soup, but without all those pesky vegetable or chicken getting in the way.
It starts like this: buy the best chickpeas you can find. Soak them for a few hours, or all day while you're at work, or overnight.
When you're ready to cook, slice a shallot or two (or a small onion) and a couple cloves of garlic. Heat a splash of olive oil in your favorite bean pot (mine's a 6 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven that I bought myself when I just started getting into cooking, I love it). Sweat the shallots and garlic until they smell really good. Drain the beans most of the way, and add them to the pot, then add a couple of cups of homemade chicken broth (don't use store bought, the salt content will mess up the texture of your beans) or water, or best yet a combination of broth and water, until the beans are covered by an inch or so of liquid.
Add a bay leaf and some black pepper and if you have a few branches of thyme or oregano or marjoram, add those, too (the leaves will probably fall off, but you can just fish the sticks out later). Bring the pot up to a hard simmer, then back it down to low and let it simmer until the beans are tender. Depending on the age of your beans, this can take up to an hour or longer, but mine are usually done in about 45 minutes. Now you can add salt, a couple of big pinches. Stir the beans and wait a few minutes before you taste them so they can absorb the seasoning. You might need more salt, just add it until the beans taste good. Dish up a bowl full , then grate some good parmiggiano on top and sprinkle with chives or parsley and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil. Eat with bread.