The brilliant secret to this recipe, an unclassifiable number that's kind of a stir-fry but with none of the usual ingredients, is the way chickpeas will caramelize and turn nutty-brown if you heat them over high heat in a skillet. Nick's covered this territory before in Dinner Tonight, when he cooked them until they actually crisped into snacks, making a kind of alternative to popcorn. But it was the first time I'd done anything besides purée or simmer the humble chickpea, and I was amazed. The process deepens the flavor considerably and makes them taste almost meaty.
The inspiration came from a recipe at 101 Cookbooks, which I followed only loosely: I replaced spinach for kale, lost the tofu, and added chunks of roasted red pepper. I think the recipe would be pretty successful with any number of ingredients—frozen corn, for example, or chunks of feta cheese tossed in at the end. The key is a good splash of lemon juice off the heat to brighten it and keep the oil in check. Just cook the heck out of the chickpeas and its pretty safe to say the result will be delicious.
- 2 tablespoons ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion or a couple shallots, sliced
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
- 1 cup chopped kale, spinach, or other hearty green
- 1 red pepper, roasted, skinned, and chopped
- 2 small zucchini, cut into half moons
- Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil or ghee over medium-high heat and stir in a good pinch of salt. Add the chickpeas and sauté until beginning to color, then add the onion or shallot. Continue cooking until the chickpeas are deeply golden. Add greens and cook until wilted, then remove everything in the skillet onto a large plate.
Heat the remaining oil or ghee in the same skillet over medium heat, and sauté the zucchini until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the pepper and cook for an additional minute, then add the chickpea mixture back in.
Mix well, taste for seasoning, and remove from the heat. Add the lemon zest and juice, and toss well. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper.