Lemon Chickpeas with Kale, Sumac and EVOO

Lemon Chickpeas with Kale, Sumac and EVOO

Lemon chickpeas are classic Mediterranean comfort food.
As a chef, I have the good fortune to be surrounded with awesome food and, as a bonus, what better food city to live in than Chicago. The city is a melting pot of ethnic cuisines and exploring Chicago neighborhoods and restaurants is one of my favorite things to do.

Located on the Northside of Chicago, Devon Avenue has long been the center for Indian and Pakistani dining and shopping. From sari shops to great restaurants, tea shops, music, bookstores, and food markets.
I love this street because it transports you to another world.
On my last visit to one of the food markets, I purchased dried chickpeas, one of my favorite legumes; along with sumac, one of my favorite spices. Lemon chickpeas with kale and sumac is a recipe that I love to cook.
So easy to prepare; it’s creamy with clean, awesome, simple flavors. I promise you; you will cook this recipe over and over again. Lemon Chickpeas are cooked with only 7 ingredients: dry chickpeas, kale, onion, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and water. If you don’t like kale, feel free to use fresh spinach.

Chickpeas 101:  

Sometimes called Garbanzo beans, chickpeas are a staple of the Mediterranean diet and a great source of protein. For this reason, dried chickpeas are one legume you will always find in my pantry.
They keep for months and are a great value when bought in bulk. From a nutritional standpoint, chickpeas contain a moderate amount of calories, are high in fiber and protein. All properties that play a role in weight management. They are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet and can be used in soups, salads, baking, snacks, etc.
Research has shown that regularly including chickpeas in your diet will support your health and may reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

I’ve never found any stones in my chickpeas, either when sifting or eating. However, depending on the supplier, there may be small rocks, dust, or other debris in the package. So it’s a good practice to sift through them before the cooking process.

Bringing dried chickpeas back to life:

They are easy to reconstitute. However, as with any dried legume, it takes time to soak them, so plan ahead. Soaking the chickpeas reduces cooking time and adding baking powder during the soaking process tenderizes the chickpeas.

Lemon Chickpeas

Facts about Kale:

We all know that kale is good for you, however, here is the dirty little secret:
According to the EWG, the Environmental Working Group, kale is on the list of the dirty dozen foods. In 2019, kale moves to #3 on the list. Nearly 60 percent of kale samples sold in the U.S. were contaminated with residues of the pesticide DCPA. Fact: DCPA pesticide has been prohibited for use on crops in the European Union since 2009. In case you were thinking of substituting kale with spinach, conventionally grown spinach has more pesticide residues by weight than all other produce tested.
The EWG is listing their dirty dozen foods, as well as, the clean fifteen foods on their shoppers guide pesticidesEWG ranks pesticide contamination of 47 popular fruits and vegetables; a great eye-opening read that has been updated every year since 2004.

DIY vegetable wash or the easy way to get rid of pesticides: 

In our days, almost no food is free of pesticides. A recent study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that soaking vegetables in a DYI vegetable wash was found to be the most effective solution to remove pesticides.
So my recommendation is to make a DIY vegetable wash, which is very simple to do:
fill your kitchen sink with cold water, add 4 tablespoons of baking soda. Soak the kale for 15 minutes, the longer you soak the more pesticides you get rid of. Thoroughly rinse the kale under with cold water before adding to the lemon chickpeas.


Creamy Chickpeas

Sumac:

Sumac is one of my favorite spices, widely available in Middle Eastern markets.
It’s used in everything from dry rubs, marinades, and dressing. The sumac shines when sprinkled over the lemon chickpeas, it kicks the dish up a notch. Another great use for sumac, I love to sprinkle sumac over a mixed salad tossed with cucumbers, tomatoes, and a simple lemon vinaigrette.

Fried lemon garnish: 

To add a simple, but awesome, garnish to the lemon chickpeas, add fried lemon slices. This simple to make garnish comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Mourad – new Morrocan cooking.
Slice lemons and pat dry with a cloth or paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Heat olive oil to 350°F and add a small batch of the sliced lemons in a single layer and fry for about 1 1/2 minutes.
The flesh will become quite dark, but the rind should only be lightly browned. Remove and drain on cloth or paper towel; sprinkle with sea salt. Skim the oil and fry additional lemon slices.

Lemon Chickpeas

Lemon Chickpeas with Kale and Sumac 

The Taste

Clean, creamy chickpea, lemon olive oil flavor topped with sumac makes the dish shine.
A vibrant Mediterranean favorite that takes you back to the Greek Islands.

The Process

As simple as it gets; another simple recipe that I cook over and over again.

The Verdict

A Mediterranean classic that is telling a story about flavor, history, and traditions.
Cook it and you will discover a great plant-based meal that screams simplicity and flavor.

Chef’s Tip

Sometimes I serve quinoa with my lemon chickpeas;
making an amazing plant-based lunch or dinner.

 

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