Chickpeas, garbanzos, ceci — by whatever name you choose, I love them.
Last week, as I was lying face down on a mat focusing on my breath and the sorry state of my pedicure, I misheard my yoga teacher ask that we take a moment to look into our inner beans.
And so I found myself asking this eternal question, one that can only be answered after a sweaty yoga class and a few minutes of peaceful contemplation – what is my inner bean?
I emerged from that brief meditation certain that my inner bean was a cannellini; earthy, velvety soft and creamy at the core. A bowl of warm cannellini beans drizzled with delicious green olive oil, strewn with tiny slivers of chopped fresh rosemary and some Parmigiano grated over is one of the most comforting foods I can think of.
However, I came to the conclusion that if I am truly a cannellini being at the core, then the outer being must be all chickpea. I eat them almost every day!
I’d gotten into the habit of using canned chickpeas after many frustrated hours trying to cook dried ones that more often than not were old and stale. But now that diet trends veer toward the Gluten Free Vegan Cave Dweller, chickpeas are a very popular protein choice for many people, which translates into faster turnover and fresher dried beans.
I fell for a method of cooking garbanzos I found in Suzanne Goin’s AOC Cookbook , which is genius because the cooking water becomes a fabulous light broth – or brodo – that is so tasty I keep the chickpeas in it and build a soup meal along with some smoky, slightly spicy chorizo and dark greens.
I find the combination of sharp cheeses with chile peppers hard to resist. Coach Farms was kind to send me a sample of their Grating Stick, an aged goat cheese that my Microplane turned into savory dust on my chickpeas – yum. But lacking that, a good sharp and salty sheep’s milk Pecorino or even feta would be perfect substitutes.
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 shallot or small onion, finely chopped
2 dried chile de arbol, crumbled (or 1 or 2 teaspoons crushed red chile pepper)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
8 ounces short tubular pasta, such as ditallini or tubetti
4 ounces cooked chorizo, cut into cubes
1 roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and sliced
A few handfuls of washed mixed leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula, etc.) stems trimmed; torn into bite-sized pieces
Aged sharp cheese, such as Pecorino or Provolone or dry goat
- Drain the soaked chickpeas and put into a 3 or 4 quart heavy saucepan along with the garlic, shallot, chiles, bay leaf and paprika. Pour over enough water to cover by 3 inches and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and loosely cover. Cook an hour or so, then add 2 teaspoons salt. Continue cooking until chickpeas are tender - 30 minutes or more depending on the age of the chickpeas. Remove the bay leaf.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.
- Just before serving, warm the chickpeas and broth over low heat. Stir the pasta, chorizo, roasted red pepper and greens into the pot and taste for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed.
- Serve in bowls and grate cheese over the top.