On week 16 of the 52, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs asked their Food52 community to share their best recipe with paprika. Unlike requesting a favorite chocolate chip cookie or a pot roast recipe, this query was an open-ended one, bringing in a flood of varied responses. But it was these Smoky Fried Chickpeas that took the prize.
This is the sort of recipe made for those who entertain frequently—an elegant little pre-dinner snack that wows without requiring all that much effort. These briefly fried canned chickpeas crisp in olive oil scented with lemon and thyme, getting all nice and crunchy on the outside while retaining a bit of creaminess within.
And when it comes to the paprika, the choice, of course is entirely up to you depending on whether you're feeling sweet or hot and smoky. We like the smoky sort, since it lends these poppable little peas deep, almost barbecue-y notes.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Food52 Cookbook to give away this week.
- Two 1-pound, 13-ounce cans chickpeas
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, in thin strips
- 1 fresh thyme sprig
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (sweet or hot, depending on your taste)
- Coarse salt
Drain the chickpeas and set on paper towels in a colander to dry thoroughly. (This can be done 1 day in advance.)
Heat the oil in a large pan (preferably cast iron) to 350°F, or until the oil makes bubbles around a single chickpea when you drop it in.
Add the lemon zest, thyme sprig, and chickpeas in batches so the pan doesn’t crowd. Fry each batch for about 5 minutes until the chickpeas darken and are crunchy.
Remove the chickpeas, zest, and thyme from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain well over a colander or sieve. After you’ve fried the last batch, add the garlic to the oil and fry briefly until golden. Remove and drain.
Toss the chickpeas and garlic with the smoked paprika and salt, adding more to taste. Serve right away while still warm and crisp.