Creative food stylist Ajda Mehmet possesses the gift to create something tasteful out of literally anything. With us she shares her knowledge about uncommon but not forgotten vegetables along with the most delicious recipes to prepare them.
Last week I shared my aquafaba love with you. This week I thought I’d explore the wondrous, humble chickpea a little more, to give it the credit it deserves and give you something to do with all the leftover chickpeas you have in your fridge.
Wondrous due to their flavour, texture and versatility, this article in the Huffington Post sums them up perfectly;
“Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are one of the most perfect foods. Hearty and light at the same time, they’re satisfying on their own and also pair well with a range of dishes. With a flavour profile between neutral and nutty, they’re a great backdrop for spices and sauces, but are interesting enough with nothing more than a splash of lemon or a sprinkle of salt. They stay in tact in soups and stews, turn perfectly crispy when fried, and create wonderful spreads and purees because of their natural creaminess.”
Let’s not forget that chickpeas are really good for you. They are a legume so contain lots of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including folate, magnesium, vitamin b6, vitamin c, iron, potassium, calcium and zinc, and have been associated with bone, blood, heart, cholesterol and digestion health. They are also gluten free (great for celiacs), and high in protein so are a perfect alternative to meat for vegetarians and vegans.
We know chickpeas are good for hummus and falafels but I love them most coated in thick sauces and slowly cooked.
My memories eating chickpeas growing up were forged through three main dishes. Hummus, (of course), nohut yemegi, a Turkish chickpea stew, nohutlu pilav, Turkish rice with chickpeas. Nothing fancy or complex, just good, simple, family food. Two of which are perfect for mopping up with chunks of bread, (a common occurrence in our house and still a guilty pleasure of mine). I will happily clean my plate or the bottom of the salad bowl by soaking pieces of bread in whatever sauce, dressing or gravy happens to be left. The rich, tomatoey sauce leftover after all the chickpeas had been eaten in the stew my mum used to make was ideal for this, just the stuff for a bit of bread.
Perhaps this explains my love for dishes with lots of sauce?
Recipes like chana masala or a sweet and sour tagine like this one gets my mouthwatering and my bread moistening. Even though the chickpeas aren’t the star here, they definitely hold their own and add texture and heartiness to this dish.
Sweet potato tagine with chickpeas
Heat 2tbsp olive oil and 25g butter in a tagine or heatproof casserole. Add ½ celeriac, peeled and cubed, 2 coarsely cut onions, 2 parsnips, peeled and cut and 2 garlic cloves sliced. Leave to simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1tsp ground ginger, 1 cinnamon stick, 5 cardamom pods, a few strings saffron and 1tsp turmeric and gently cook. Finely chop the peel of 1 pickled lemon and add.
Add some mandarin peel, 3 bay leaves, 2 sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed), 3 dried prunes halved, 200g chickpeas (canned), 1l vegetable stock.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. For the final 5 minutes toss in 50g walnuts, 2tbsp coarsely chopped parsley, leaves of 3 thyme sprigs and 75g black olives.
Peel 1 pound tangy mandarins, whole or halved (dependent on size) and fry for 3 minutes in 2tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with herb salt and put on top of the stewed vegetables. Serve with couscous.
Something to try over the weekend and excellent bread-mopping ability, enjoy!