In my eternal quest to find dishes that will keep me fed happily for several days a week, while tasting good at the same time, I happened across this recipe from the now sadly defunct blog The Traveller’s Lunch Box (Melissa, could you please come back and do some more of your delicious food-writing?). Knowing I’d be home late several times last week, I was looking for the sort of food that gets better the longer it sits in the fridge. And boy, did this do the job.
I made it on Monday and ate it on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday. When I first finished cooking on Monday and tasted it, I was more than slightly underwhelmed. It was OK, but sort of bland and not half as tangy as I’d expected it to be, given that the juice of half a very juicy lemon had gone into it. But by the time I got home on Tuesday, it had marinated in the fridge for about 24 hours and in the meantime, some sort of transformation process had taken place. My previously not-so-exciting chickpeas with tomato sauce were suddenly fresh, garlicky, and springy. Let’s not lie, I wanted to bathe in them. So make it, let it sit, and have it for dinner the next day or take it into the office for lunch. Best thing? You can have it hot or cold. This, I think, will become a summer favourite.
Ingredients (2 portions for the very hungry, up to 4 if you serve it as a starter or main course with bread)
- 400g chickpeas (from a can)
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- garlic (the original recipe uses 3 cloves, I used one very big one – next time I’d go for two)
- pinch of sugar
- 1 onion
- 2 handfuls almonds, peeled (if you’re really lazy you can buy ground ones but I peeled and chopped them myself)
- 1 small handful smooth parsley
- saffron (a few strands or a pinch of the ground variety)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 300ml vegetable stock
Try your chickpeas and cook them al dente in salt water if they’re not completely done. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. In a large, heavy frying pan with some olive oil, cook them at low heat until they’re absolutely super tender. Add the tomatoes and the sugar, turn up the heat a little, and let them fry for about 15 minutes until they’re reduced to a very thick paste (from The Traveller’s Lunch Box, I learned that this is called a “sofregit” and is frequently used in Catalan cuisine. Given the Catalan obsession with tomatoes, I can totally see this).
While the sofregit is frying away, you deal with the almonds, parsley, and saffron. In the ideal case, you have a mortar and/or a food processor. Just throw them all in and pound or pulse them into a thick paste with the help of some water. If you’re me, you have neither – this dish brought me to the long overdue decision that the next purchase for my kitchen will be one of these handheld blender-cum-whipping devices – and will need to do some serious chopping. I also recommend making this dish if you’re feeling aggressive; just envision your worst enemy. I placed it all on a cutting board and chopped away until it was reasonably mashed. The almond pieces were probably much larger in my version than what they should be, but I actually liked that a lot. It was crunchy.
Poor the chickpeas, stock, and almond mix into the pan with the tomato sauce. Let it cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is nice and thick. Add the lemon juice and season to taste. Let it cool down and stick it in the fridge overnight. Eat it the next day and marvel at the flavours that will spread in your mouth.
If you like it on the more strongly flavoured side, you could probably add a dried chilli to your sofregit and add some tomato puree. I loved it as it was.