"Amori è un vrodu di ciciri" literally"love is a chickpeas broth":a sicilian saying used to remind how love cannot be compared with a light broth of chickpeas"
⏱ 4 MINUTES READING
FROM THE PLANT TO THE POT
Chickpeas do not exist in the wild, nor fresh. Since the dawn of time they were dried once harvested, between June and September. Only with the pasteurization and the advent of large-scale distribution, chickpeas, and legumes in general, are available in jars, already boiled and, in recent years, also steamed in glass jars.
If the jar in the pantry is a fast dinner option, the dried product requires a minimum of planning and foresight, such as adding a little kombu seaweed during cooking to make the assimilation of legumes less “windy”. Soak the cheickpeas and eliminate those that rise to the surface and rinse them very well, even from the canning water in the jars as it is too rich in salt. The cooking, usually very gentle, traditionally involves the terracotta casserole, with rather long cooking times, up to the use of more modern techniques and tools, from steam to the pressure cooker, where 20 minutes is enough.
The cooking times naturally also depend on the desired “crunchiness” of the chickpeas, which differs from recipe to recipe.
AND THE FLOUR?
A fundamental ingredient for making gluten-free and high-protein preparations, it can also be made at home, always starting from dried chickpeas. Just toast them in the oven for 20 minutes at 150°C, let them cool and blend them for 1’, repeating the operation until the desired finesse is obtained. This flour can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight box.
ON THE HOLIDAYS TABLE
Chickpeas, among all legumes, have a central role on the tables of banquets and theatrical performances set up in various areas of Italy for the feast of Saint Joseph (March 19th).
In many areas of Puglia takes place a representation of lunch sharing with the poor of the country, to tell the story of the restoration of social order after the carnival revelry: three poor people seated at the centre of a table depicting Saint Joseph, Virgin Mary and Child Jesus (the Holy Family) are served with dishes prepared by well-off families.
But chickpeas, in addition to recalling the flowery branch of St. Joseph, refer also to the pagan religion, when they were offered to the dead together with the first fruits.
Chickpeas are protagonists throughout Southern Italy: in Molise they are cooked with troccoli (large spaghetti), fried breadcrumbs and fried vegetables; in Campania are famous the laine, a traditional homemade pasta, served with chickpeas.
This recipe is called ciceri e tria in Salento (south Puglia) and in ancient family recipe books state that it is enriched with ingredients such as raisins, tomato sauce and mussels. Fried chickpeas and black chickpeas soup are prepared in the area of trulli in Puglia.
Also in Calabria the traditional homemade pasta and chickpeas is served, but the pasta has various shapes and names: tagliolini, tubetti, canarozzi. From farinata in Liguria to panelle in Sicily (a kind of pancakes made with cheickpeas flour), chickpeas and their flour are a central ingredient.
... OF CHICKPEAS
In the rest of the Mediterranean basin they are used in a thousand dishes, to underline not only their widespread diffusion but their nutritional and cultural importance: from hummus to falafel, flavoured with spiced blends or with herbs, as a protein contribution for salads and finally as a precious and simple side dish for steamed fish.
This gastronomic journey is not linked to seasonality, since fortunately we can find chickpeas all year round, and it will take you to the middle of the Mediterranean up to a visit to the cuisines of the Caucasus.
Anna Maria Pellegrino
Gastronome and blogger
“Hummus bi al tahina” is a Middle Eastern appetizer, a puree of chickpeas in sesame sauce, tahina. It is definitely a vegan proposal but the Moorish recipe book gives us a richer version, thanks to the addition of stewed lamb, crunchy pine nuts and fragrant cinnamon. The one I propose to you was taught to me by an Armenian cook.
DOSES for 6 people
PREPARATION TIME: 20’ + soaking
COOKING TIME: from 45’ up to 2 hours
500 g Cece Bio BioAlberti
2 cloves of garlic finely mashed in a mortar
50 g tahina (sesame sauce)
50 ml Cava Rossa extra virgin olive oil
2 organic lemons, the juice
1/2 spoon of cumin
> FOR THE SERVICE:
oliva infornata di Ferrandina q.s.
a pinch of smoked sweet paprika
Soak the chickpeas for a whole night, rinse well with running water and boil for about 2 hours in abundant water (or steam for 1 hour and cook with pressure cooker for 40 minutes)
Drain them retaining the cooking water and transfer them to a mixer with all the other ingredients.
Process until you obtain a smooth and velvety cream, adding, if necessary, a few tablespoons of the cooking water.
Season with salt. Serve the sauce in small bowls with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, dried dill, a sprinkling of smoked sweet paprika and some baked Ferrandina olives.
PASTA AND CHICKPEAS (RECIPE FROM ASCOLI PICENO)
Classic Lent recipe, it is also a dish for good wishes: in the Marche region there was the custom of eating pasta and chickpeas (or bread and chickpea soup) on the day of wheat sowing, hoping to collect grains of wheat as big as chickpeas. In Lazio region, it is common to add chopped garlic and rosemary sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and a little tomato sauce to the legume sauce.
DOSES for 6-8 people
COURSE: first course
PREPARATION TIME: 30’ + soaking
COKING TIME: 45’
Leave the chickpeas to soak for 12 hours in cold water, rinse them well, transfer them to a saucepan half filled with cold water (or vegetable broth) together with the whole vegetables and rosemary.
Season with salt, bring to the boil and continue cooking for 50 minutes.
Eliminate the vegetables and blend a third of the cooked chickpeas. Put the blended chickpeas with the rest of the legumes.
In the meantime, cook the pasta separately, drain it and add it to the chickpeas in broth.
Serve with a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil and a generous grind of pepper.
SAUTE’ OF CHICKPEAS WITH GREEK YOGURT
It is the gastronomic narration collected by chef Ottolenghi who gives us a colourful, express and complete version of a salad made with ingredients that we can find in every market and made unique by the addition of spices and dried and fresh aromatic herbs. Want to dabble in an Iranian version? Add lime and sumac.
DOSES for 4 people
COURSE: main dish
PREPARATION TIME: 20’ + soaking
COOKING TIME: 30’
> FOR SAUTÈ:
250 g Cece Bio BioAlberti
300 g spinach (or chard or rocket salad)
4 medium size carrots
1 tea spoon of caraway seeds
1 mashed clove of garlic
1 spoon of minced fresh mint
1 spoon of minced fresh coriander
1 spoon of lemon juice
75 ml Cava Rossa extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
> FOR THE SAUCE:
100 g crema di yogurt greco Tyras
1 spoon extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Soak the chickpeas for 12 hours, boil them for 2 hours, drain and set aside.
In a low and wide saucepan, sauté the spinach with a pinch of salt: they will cook in 2’-3’ in their water. Drain and coarsely chop them.
Wash and slice the carrots into 1cm rounds. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the carrots and caraway seeds, sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the spinach and chickpeas and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Immediately after, add the garlic, herbs, the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and in the meantime prepare the yogurt sauce by mixing all the ingredients.
Serve the vegetables on the plates and complete with a few tablespoons of yogurt and a drizzle of oil.