Thursday, March 11, 2010

Roasted Chickpeas

Years ago I went through a phase where I ate hummus all the time.  I don't know if it's still as popular as it once was, but I'm a little weary of it.  Don't get me wrong, it can be very tasty, but there is some pretty bad hummus running around out there, whether in grocery stores, home kitchens, or restaurants.  And the bad stuff ruins the party for the incomparable chickpea.  No, this is not a post about hummus, in case you were wondering (sorry if you're disappointed).

I recently bought a bag of dried chickpeas and discovered just the inspiration I was looking for in Julie Van Rosendaal's blog post.  The concept of roasted chickpeas fascinated me.  What would the texture be like, I wondered?

So I soaked some overnight, boiled them until tender, and then tossed them into a roasting pan with olive oil, bay leaves, chopped shallots, whole garlic cloves, and a generous sprinkling of sea salt.  They'd been in the oven for 30 or so minutes when I left the room to put Anatole to bed.  But before I scooted away I asked Alan if he would turn off the oven and remove the pan when the buzzer rang.  No problem, he said.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that there would not be a repeat of the afternoon when I left for a walk with Alan's assurance that he would remove a loaf of banana bread from the oven when it was done baking.  I came back to a charred loaf--still in the oven--and a sleeping husband on the couch.  In general, I consider myself a patient, understanding, and forgiving person, but NOT when it comes to burning my baked goods.

Chickpeas.  Right.  Anyway, when I came upstairs I half expected the buzzer to still be ringing, but what I discovered instead was a partially-fulfilled mission.  Buzzer off?  Check.  Oven off?  Check!  Pan of chickpeas cooling on counter?  Not exactly.  Apparently, Alan's version of "take the pan out of the oven" differs from that of most normal human beings.  He simply opened the oven door and left the pan inside.  Not a horrible injustice, but it did make for some mighty crunchy beans.  I feel sure that a little less time in the oven (and proper cooling on the counter) would have resulted in perfectly roasted chickpeas.

So, in terms of texture, mine were a mix of crunchy and chewy.  The chewy beans were a little dry for my taste, but the crunchy ones made up for that.  Plus, served with vinaigrette atop a bed of wilted spinach masked any possible imperfection.  And, the roasted garlic is amazing. Note to self: Give hummus another chance.  Second note to self:  Do not entrust oven duty to husband.

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