Chickpeas are having a moment. Have you noticed? It seems as though everyone has caught on to the deliciousness and versatility of the lowly legume all at once. Mark Bittman wrote about its varied uses lately (and he’s right, chickpea fries are sinfully easy to make and incredibly satisfying). I recently ate a beautiful dish of grilled octopus and chickpeas with house made chorizo at a local restaurant, and hummus is practically as easy to find as a carton of milk these days. Well I say it’s about time! I grew up eating chickpeas–or “garbanzo beans” as I was taught to call them–straight from a can, by the handful. Unadorned they are nutty and rich with a slight sweetness and a wonderful, dense texture. Dried chickpeas definitely have a superior, earthy flavor and hummus made from the dried bean will blow any you buy in the store out of the water. But since I am still prone to eat handfuls of the wrinkly little beans, I buy them by the can, usually three at a time. The other night I had a couple lamb chops in the fridge and little else. In the cupboard I found two cans of chickpeas, some San Marzano crushed tomatoes, and a box of organic chicken stock. While the gardener of the family harvested greens from the backyard and started the grill, I cooked the chickpeas and tomatoes with sumac and cumin and, at the last minute, smashed them with the back of a wooden spoon. They were perfect with the lamb chops–hearty and darkly savory but simultaneously light, the sumac and tomatoes lending an almost lemony-brightness to the dish. Somehow we resisted cleaning the whole bowl and I ate the leftovers the next day with a salad of paper-thin slices of cucumber with mint, lemon, and olive oil. I don’t know how long the garbanzo will stay in favor but I hope it’s a while. And when its fifteen minutes of fame have passed, it will still have a place center stage in my kitchen.

Smashed Chickpeas with Sumac & Cumin

2 15oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 15oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2-1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 t ground sumac
1 T cumin seed
1 T coconut oil or olive oil
Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seed and garlic and stir constantly until aromatic. Add sumac and continue stirring another minute or so. Add the chickpeas and stir, then add enough chicken stock to just cover the beans.
Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to medium and let cook, undisturbed until almost all the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir. Again, let the beans cook undisturbed until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. About 25 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. My chicken broth was rather salty so I didn’t add any salt but you may need to. Once you have it seasoned as you like, smash the chickpeas with the back of a wooden spoon until you have a consistency you like. Delicious as a side with lamb or chicken.And as soon as you can, follow Mark Bittman’s recipe and make these:

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