I had never been much into sports. As a kid, I tried swimming and gymnastics and, even though I liked the later way more than the former, it wasn’t something I was passionate about. In my teen years, I was introduced to fencing and started to realise that the kind of physical activity I liked had to be in the form of individual, not collective, sports.
In the recent years, and after a very long time – way too much time – of not exercising at all, I started to run. It wasn’t love at first sight – I had many bad runs where I practically ran out of breath and ended up giving up – but, over the time, I started to really enjoy it. These days, I can’t imagine myself not running on a regular basis. I don’t have the right emotional vocabulary to describe how good running makes me feel, but I love every aspect of it – the fresh breeze stroking my cheeks, the feeling of freedom, that sort of alienation from reality by being able to not think about anything… I’m sure most of you guys who run can relate.
Over the last 2/3 months, I’ve been training for my first half-marathon. As the date of the race approaches – it will be in two weeks – I’ve been increasing my running distance. That means that, even though I have the music to keep me distracted, I also have plenty of time to elaborate ideas and projects in my head. Sometimes, I find myself thinking about recipes and ingredient combinations to try. I had the intention to make roasted chickpeas in the back of my head for a while, but it was only while running, the other day, that I thought about the particular flavour combinations I’m now sharing with you.
I’ve never thought roasted chickpeas would be so good. You’ll end up with tasty crunchy bits, packed with flavour, that not only make perfect protein-packed snacks, but are also a great addition to salads. This one’s a very straight-forward recipe, but I’d advise you not to skip the step where you have to take the chickpeas from the oven for a couple of minutes and then pop them back in again. It really makes them crunchier. I also think that home-cooked chickpeas work best for this recipe instead of canned. Canned chickpeas tend to be too soft and mushy, whereas with the dried variety, you’re in control and will likely avoid over-cooking. However, if cooking beans from scratch isn’t your thing, just make sure you really dry the chickpeas well before putting them into the oven.
Roasted Chickpeas – Two Ways
(serves 6, as an appetizer)
475 g / 2 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
for the turmeric/cumin version:
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
a pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 ½ teaspoon olive oil
salt to taste
for the nori/sesame version:
1 nori sheet
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
salt to taste
tamari sauce to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Spread the chickpeas over a large clean kitchen towel. Grab another towel and put it on top, gently pressing down in order for the moisture to be absorbed. Add half of the chickpeas to a bowl, and the other half to a different bowl.
For the turmeric/cumin version: Combine half of the chickpeas with the oil, followed by the spices and salt. Toss well to evenly coat them.
For the nori/sesame version: Place the nori sheet in a small baking dish. Toast it, in the pre-heated oven, for 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool a bit until it crisps up. Now, tear the nori into pieces and add it to the bowl of a food processor, pulsing until you get a fine powder. At this stage, add the sesame seeds and pulse a few times, just to break them down a bit.
Mix the other half of chickpeas with the olive oil. Add the nori/sesame mixture, a pinch of salt, and toss everything together.
Place both chickpeas’ mixtures in two separate baking tray and roast, in the top and middle thirds of the oven, for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through. After that time, take the trays out of the oven and let them cool, at room temperature, for at least 5 minutes. Return the chickpeas to the oven for additional 10 minutes or until golden brown. Once ready and cooled, coat the nori/sesame chickpeas with a splash or two of tamari sauce. Store the chickpeas in glass jars or tightly sealed containers — they’ll keep well for a week.