We’ve all been lying to you about crispy chickpeas. I’m sorry. It wasn’t very cool of us. I include myself; I’ve been telling you for years that you can crisp chickpeas in the oven and you can, you really can. But it’s not the whole story. The whole story is that you can get them crunchy in the oven but they also dry out a bit and the texture isn’t half as good as the more lightweight, nuanced crisp you get from frying them on the stove. I’ve always known this. But, who wants to deep fry? Not most of us, and certainly on a random Tuesday. It sounds like a project. It must use a ton of oil. It feels a bit heavy… for lunch.
But what if none of this is true, either? One day earlier this summer I wanted crispy chickpeas and I didn’t want to crank up the oven for 35 to 40 minutes to make it happen. Instead, I heated a few tablespoons of oil (a tablespoon more, if that, than I find roasting them requires) in a small frying pan and it took all of 10 minutes to get them perfect — crispy with shattery edges, but still soft inside. I drained them briefly on a paper towel, coated them with salt, pepper, and lemon zest, and then I added a little more oil to the pan and fried some thinly sliced zucchini until it were browned in spots. On a plate, I stirred together some plain yogurt, finely grated garlic, lemon juice, and salt. I layered the zucchini on top, and half the chickpeas on top of that. I finished the whole thing with red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, and more lemon juice. And I don’t know that I have made a more perfect plate of food since.*
Nutty chickpeas, almost sweet browned zucchini, cold garlicky yogurt, with an intense toum-like vibe, all together in each forkful is more complexity than I’d ever hoped to find in a plate of beans and yogurt. I made it again the next day, frying more zucchini and using the second half of the fried chickpeas, and I plan to repeat it all fall and winter with other vegetables I can singe in a pan (eggplant, thinly sliced peppers, perhaps even some winter squash). I’m envisioning a future where I sit down to stunning, plated lunches I’ve made just for me, because I’m worth it, but that’s just early September ambition talking. But let me daydream, okay?
* which is either an insult to all of the food I’ve made since or a tell that, well, I’ve barely cooked recently. Because… we just got back from Ireland! We’ll talk more about the food soon, but in the meanwhile, if you’re into reading itineraries, I wrote this up just for you.
Six months ago: Salted Peanut Tart
One year ago: Foolproof Cacio e Pepe
Two years ago: Cheesecake Bars with All The Berries and Corn Chowder with Chile, Lime, and Cotija
Three years ago: Eggplant Parmesan Melts and Even More Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Four years ago: Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce, Crispy Peach Cobbler, and Corn Chowder Salad
Five years ago: Strawberries and Cream with Graham Crumbles and Corn Cheddar and Scallion Strata
Six years ago: Almond-Crisped Peaches, Key Lime Popsicles and Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
Seven years ago: Mediterranean Baked Feta with Tomatoes, Leek, Chard, and Corn Flatbread and Vanilla Custards with Roasted Blueberries
Eight years ago: Hazelnut Plum-Crumb Tart, Zucchini Fritters, and Naked Tomato Sauce
Nine years ago: Eggplant Salad Toasts and Peach Shortbread
Ten years ago: Griled Eggplant and Olive Pizza and Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting
Eleven years ago: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs and Dimply Plum Cake
Twelve years ago: Double Chocolate Torte and Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes
Thirteen years ago: Moules Frites and 44-Clove Garlic Soup
Crisped Chickpeas with Herbs and Garlic Yogurt
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 small garlic clove, minced or microplane-d
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- Salt and red pepper flakes
- Olive oil
- Half a large lemon
- 1 small zucchini (about 6 ounces), thinly sliced
- Handful of chopped fresh mint, oregano, basil, parsley, or a mix thereof
Heat scant 4 tablespoons olive oil in a medium-large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chickpeas and cook, stirring to ensure they color evenly, until golden and crispy, about 10 minutes. They’re going to crackle and pop as they fry; be careful or use a splatter screen if you have one. Use a slotted spoon, transfer the chickpeas to paper towels to drain briefly then season well, while still very hot, with finely grated lemon zest, fine sea salt, and pepper flakes.
Add another tablespoon or so of oil if needed to the pan and warm again over medium-high. Add the zucchini — you will not fit it all in one layer and that’s fine, just leave it there until browned underneath, a few minutes, then turn in sections, repeating the don’t-move-until-browned pause until the zucchini is tender and browned in spots. Season well with salt and pepper.
Slide zucchini onto prepared yogurt. Cut the zested lemon half into two wedges. Drizzle hot zucchini with juice from one of the wedges; place the second on the side of the plate for serving. Sprinkle half of chickpeas on top of zucchini (save the second half of the chickpeas for next time). Finish with a small drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs. Eat right away.