Friday, August 15, 2014

Crispy Chickpeas for Salad and Snacking

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, Garbanzo is a great word to say out loud, gar-ban-zo! Just last week I was in the grocery store, in the canned beans area, picking up some black beans and a guy was staring at the wall of beans and looked so overwhelmed. He caught my eye and asked "can I ask you a question?" I love being asked question in the supermarket because i am full of knowledge in this area. Like the elderly lady who likes to hang around the yarn store to tell people the best way to put fringe on their afghans, (this happens). So back to beans, this guy was so confused if the can marked Garbanzo Beans was the same thing as chickpeas. I assured him they were one and the same, and go by both names. I guess he was British, from his accent. And in the UK the little things are always called chickpeas, and in other areas (Spain, for one, they are garbanzos) We in the USA cannot decide.

Which brings me to think about canned beans, I used to buy many more canned beans, and chickpeas were always canned. I thought they never got soft if you made them from dry ones. Sometime in the last few years this changed, I began making a pot of beans every week or two, and I tried chickpeas a few times, now I alternate beans one week, chickpeas the next. I make hummus and these yummy spiced crispy fried chickpeas. I still make sure to have a few cans of beans in the cabinet for "emergency" food if we need huevos rancheros one morning.  

You can make the spicy crispy chickpeas with either type, you may be like me and think that dried beans and chickpeas in particular take too long to cook and are too much trouble. I will just remind you that dried beans cost pennies compared to canned ones and the trick is to properly soak them. Proper soaking is especially important with chicky-chicky garbanzos. 

I put them in water at night before bed, if i am going to cook them the next evening. I soak most of my beans for 6 hours, but chickpeas (it sounds extreme) I like to soak 12 to 24 hours on the counter. But this is so easy: a bowl, dry beans, water to cover by at least twice the volume. In this time, they plump up and release all these foamy gassy bubbles (see the picture!) After 24 hours they have an almost transparent quality and rattle around like marbles. I like to stir them around with my fingers. 

Before cooking, always pour out the soaking water (the water turns all yellow!), and give them a good rinse until the water is clear. Then it is a matter of boiling them till done. Cover with plenty of water two or 3 times the volume, no need to measure. Bring to a boil and keep at an active simmer for an hour, or until they are tender. When you press one between your fingers it should have some resistance and then smush. More al dente than smushy hummus. 

A few thoughts. If you have hard water, your beans will never really get soft because of the minerals, you might like to use filtered water. If you have a pressure cooker, this is the perfect time to use it! I use my pressure cooker always, I find if I time 15 minutes after the pressure comes up. Then turn it off and let the pressure come down by itself, they are perfect. 

Strain the little beauties through a colander. In order to get the crispy ones crispy, it is helpful to dry them for a bit. So pour them onto a tea towel in a layer and do something else for a half hour.  (The same goes for canned chickpeas, rinse well, lay to dry) 

Good, now the chickpeas go into a bowl with salt and the middle eastern spices; cardamom, cumin and allspice. Tossed around it all sticks to them, beautiful. 

Heat a heavy skillet with enough olive oil to coat the bottom like a puddle. When it is hot and shimmery, add the spiced garbanzos. Shake them about and leave them to fry for 3 minutes or so, come back in and stir them around, repeat. they cook in 10 minutes or so. I like when they start to split open, the frying bubbles will subside and there will be less oil in the pan, this is how you know they are done. Remove with a spoon to drain in paper towels for a moment.

Crispy crunchy chicky chicky! Don't burn yourself, wait a moment. When shaken around they sound terrific. These are an awesome snack by themselves.

They are so awesome they make any salad more awesome. Today I made a salad of fresh green lettuces, kale, cucumbers, and red spring onion. A squeeze of fresh lime and plenty of olive oil made a fine dressing. Then I had a hankering for some creamy tahini dressing on the chickpeas, so I mixed that up really quickly. It did make it that much more delicious. It was a nice dinner, I am eagerly catching up on Game of Thrones, as fast as Netflix can send them. Yes, I often eat on the couch in front of the TV. Quelle horreur! 

Note: Leftovers are so so, they looks the crispy pop. To refresh them, cook in a hot pan for a few minutes until dry and crisp again. 

Crispy Chickpeas 
1 1/2 cups Cooked Chickpeas (1/2 cup when dry)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cumin
about a 1/4 cup olive oil 

Cook, drain and dry the chickpeas. Toss in a bowl with the salt and spices. Heat a heavy frying pan with olive oil to create a puddle on the bottom. Toss in the chickpeas when the oil is hot (do in 2 batches if your pan is small.) Shake periodically, after about 10 minutes when the bubbles in the oil have subsided and there is less oil in the pan, and the chickpeas begin to split: remove them from the pan to drain on paper towels. 
Add on top of salads or eat with a meze platter of olives and other yummies. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave me a comment, happy to hear what you think!