January 30, 2008
At a recent cooking class we made a chickpea snack that involved cooking, baking, frying and heavily seasoning chickpeas with cayenne and salt. The result was tasty, but it reminded me of a simpler and less salty and oily chickpea snack that my father used to make.
My mother believed that a good breakfast was eggs and bacon or cereal and milk, lunch was a tuna or egg salad sandwich, and dinner included meat and a salad and sometimes a frozen or canned vegetable like string beans or peas. My father didn't like chicken or fish so we had those things on nights he wasn't home for dinner. Meals rarely deviated from this formula unless we pleaded for spaghetti or for my father to make one of his two or three dishes. My mother seemed to have an aversion to legumes and noodles. Occasionally my father would become nostalgic for something his mother had made when he was a boy (my mother would become very annoyed) and might venture into the kitchen. He missed whole grain bread (!) and other "exotic" foods from his youth like chickpeas and macaroni. We ate white bread at our house and my mother would proclaim whole grain breads to be "horrible," but I was intrigued. I liked the things my father cooked. I was tired of meat. Chickpeas were interesting, and I happily ate them.
When I left home and moved to another city, I visited the local farmer's market out of curiosity, and my eyes were opened to the wonders of the vegetable world. "What's this?" I would ask as I held a zucchini aloft. "That's a zucchini," the bemused farmer would answer. "What do you do with it," I'd inquire. With a chuckle, the patient farmer and his wife would give me a cooking lesson. I think I learned to cook at the farmer's market.
When my husband and I became vegetarians, my parents were alarmed. When we chose to raise our children as vegetarians they were horrified, but as they watched these beautiful, healthy children grow, their fears subsided. And as they ate at our house and hosted us at theirs, their attitude towards food changed, and they became much more open and adventurous in their cooking and eating habits. Chickpeas became one of my mother's favorite foods to cook for us when we visited. Now, here I am presenting a vegan food that I learned to cook from my father!
My father's chickpea snack
Rinse and drain two cups of canned or home-cooked chickpeas. In a cast iron or other heavy skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and add the chick peas. Sprinkle generously with paprika. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chick peas start to brown and get a little crispy. (about 10 minutes) Remove from the heat, drain on a paper towel if you wish, and sprinkle with a little salt and lots of freshly ground pepper, or, as always, with the seasonings of your choice.
A funny thing: I cooked the chickpeas and my husband and I were sitting at the kitchen table enjoying them and reminiscing about my late father and my grandmother when I suddenly shreiked, "STOP!." We'd made a considerable dent in the beans when I remembered I'd prepared them for the blog, and I'd forgotten to take a photo. So the photo you see is only some of the chickpeas—there were more.
note: To cook chickpeas in a pressure cooker: Sort and wash the beans. Place in the pressure cooker and add water to about two inches above the beans. Bring to pressure then turn off the burner. Let the beans sit for an hour. (You can let them sit longer if your schedule requires it.) Add more water and bring to pressure again and cook for one hour. When the pressure comes down, the beans should be cooked. The liquid that remains can be used to make excellent soup stock or to cook rice or other grains.