Mediterranean Roasted Chickpeas with Sweet Onions

I asked my friends, who do not like beans or cumin, to taste this dish. They loved the flavors. One asked me for the recipe on the spot.  When I tell them it's also a longevity dish, they smile.  As I returned home that evening my 16 year old daughter announced, "Um dad, sorry, but we kinda ate all the beans."  All 3 kids liked it. Even the one that doesn't like beans.  That made me smile.  I think the honey mellows the spices and the silky sweet caramelized onions contrast well with the bite of the chickpeas. 

To make it easy for you, I separated this recipe into 3 steps; 1. Soaking and boiling the beans, 2. Caramelizing the onions, and 3. Assembling the dish.  You can skip steps 1 and 2 by using canned beans and sautéing the onions for 10 minutes instead of 30, but you'll sacrifice some flavor. I also made this over 3 days; soaked first night, boiled next morning, and finished dish the following morning.  Finally, I'll show you a trick for making your own bean stock to use in place of store bought chicken or vegetable broth.

LONGEVITY

You're probably busy, but I'd like to encourage you to use dried chickpeas and follow the directions on how to prepare them below. It's an extra step, but I believe the enhanced flavor you'll achieve is worth it. Plus, you don't have to worry about toxins from a can or too much sodium.  The healthiest, longest lived people around the world boil their own beans.

The chickpeascumin, cinnamon, turmeric and olive oil (basically every ingredient) contribute to longevity.

 

RECIPE

What You'll Need

For Chickpeas

chickpeas*, 1 pound dried (16 ounces)

carrots, 1 chopped into 3 pieces

celery, 1. chopped into 3 pieces

garlic, 3 cloves, whole, peeled

bay leaves, 3 dried

thyme, 1 fresh sprig

For Dish

onion, 1 yellow, sliced and caramelized- see directions below

garlic, 1 clove finely chopped

figs, 5 chopped fine, you can also use apricots

cumin, 1 teaspoon

coriander, 1 teaspoon

turmeric, 1 teaspoon

cinnamon, 1 teaspoon

honey, 2 teaspoons

olive oil, extra virgin, at least 1/4 cup and more for drizzling

bean stock, 1 cup, or more if necessary (you can also use chicken or vegetable broth)

sea salt, about 1 teaspoon or to taste

pepper to taste

To Prepare

To Prepare Dried Beans

  1. Place beans in large pot and cover with cold water by 2-3 inches, let soak for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain beans, refill with water at least 2-3 inches above beans. Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme sprigs.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a rolling simmer and place top on the pot. Check the beans after 45 minutes. Continue cooking until they reach the desired doneness. 
  3. Let the beans cool in their water.  You can now refrigerate them for up to 4-5 days, or use them immediately.
  4. Save the bean water to use as a stock.  Let cool, drain using a sieve or fine mesh strainer, place in freezer proof containers and freeze for up to 4 months.  Defrost and use as you would chicken stock or vegetable broth.

To Caramelize Onions

  1. Slice onion in half, then into slivers.  Gently heat a pan on medium low heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the onions and stir well. 
  2. Stir the onions every few minutes, making sure not to let them brown too fast (you want a little color gradually, and eventually a deep rich brown hue at the end).  Turn the heat down if they brown too quickly.
  3. Cook the onions, stirring every few minutes for at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour. The longer you cook them, the more water will evaporate and you'll be left with the natural sugars. Let cool and use immediately or refrigerate for up to 4-5 days.

To Assemble Dish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat a sauté pan on medium heat. When hot add a splash of olive oil and the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often to release the garlic's bouquet.
  3. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cinnamon.  Cook, for 2 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add the beans, figs, honey, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil by increasing the heat.  Add the caramelized onions, stir well, and put into the oven, uncovered for 1 hour.  Check after 30 minutes and add more broth if needed.  Finish cooking.  Serve with a fresh drizzle of olive oil.

Makrozoía

(long life)

 

COOK'S TIPS

  • I use spring water to soak and cook my beans. My municipal water has a high mineral content and the beans do not cook up soft and creamy, no matter how long I boil them.  I am also concerned about the quality of the water with regards to lead and other contaminants.
  • Cook the beans until they reach your desired doneness. Some recipes say boil for 45 min to an hour, but I have cooked beans for as long as 3 hours and longer.
  • *I prepare at least 2 pounds of dried beans at a time, then make several meals out of them.