Ceci with Garlic and Sage
I’ve made these Ceci (Chickpeas) with Garlic and Sage a couple times now, and I think I’m finally getting the hang of this Michael Chiarello recipe. The first time I made these I followed the recipe exactly, but I found my skillet very crowded and they just didn’t crisp up as much as I would have liked. For this batch I halved the recipe, and unless you have a huge skillet (I used a 12-in), I would recommend doing the same thing.
These are so delicious, and they would make an outstanding Thanksgiving appetizer. The sage is perfect for the holiday, and the lemon brightens these up nicely. I didn’t add the optional chili, but I think I might do that next time I make these. (I’m still a bit traumatized by some bad jalepeno burns I got on my hands a few years ago. It was one of the most painful things I’ve ever felt, and I haven’t diced a fresh chili since that happened. I might have to get over it and just wear some gloves, because I think the chili would be really good in this.)
The recipe is originally from the book “At Home with Michael Chiarello”, but I found the recipe online at 101 Cookbooks, so I feel okay re-posting here. I changed the amounts to reflect my version of the recipe, but if you’re making it for a crowd I’d recommend doubling this. Just make sure to fry the chickpeas in batches unless you have a skillet large enough to hold them in an even layer.
Ceci with Garlic and Sage
Cooking Notes: This technique lends itself to other beans, such as cooked runner beans and fava beans, and to fresh English peas. Entertaining notes: You can fry the chickpeas 1 hour in advance of serving. If you want to serve them warm, you can heat them up for a few minutes on a rimmed baking sheet in a 300°F oven.
2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3/4 cup buttermilk [See Notes]
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice Coating (below)
1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic
15 fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons thin serrano chili slices (optional)
Finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
Zest of 1 lemon, cut into julienne
Freshly ground black pepper
Drain the chickpeas in a colander, then rinse well under running cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. In a bowl, combine the chickpeas and buttermilk, stirring to coat evenly. Drain the chickpeas again in the colander, then place the colander over a clean bowl.
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. While the oil is heating, sprinkle the rice coating over the beans and shake the colander to coat the beans evenly. Repeat the process, using the coating that collects in the bowl. Don’t worry if the beans don’t absorb all the coating.
When the oil is very hot but not smoking, carefully add the beans, spreading them in an even layer. Cook, without stirring, until they are browned and crisp on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn once with a spatula and add the garlic.
When the garlic turns brown, add the sage. When the sage turns crispy, add the chili slices, if using, and season with 1 teaspoon salt. At the last moment, add the lemon zest and pepper to taste. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to paper towels to drain. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
Arborio Rice Coating
Cooking notes: If you have a spice mill, you can halve the recipe. Unlike the blender, the mill will successfully grind 1/2 cup rice.
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
2 tablespoons finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grind the rice in a blender until very fine. Put it in a bowl and add the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, salt, and pepper. Toss until well blended. Store the coating in a tightly sealed container in the freezer for maximum freshness. It will keep for several months.
Makes about 5 cups.
Notes: To make vegan buttermilk, add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to 3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk. You can also you unsweetened MimicCreme in place of the buttermilk. I only had extra virgin olive oil on hand so I fried these in canola oil, and it worked out fine. Next time I make these I want to experiment with a different breading method – having to bread these in a colander over a bowl, and then re-toss them with leftover coating is kind of a pain. I’m not sure if you can just toss these in a bowl with the coating, but I’ll probably try to do that next time I make these. I’ll report back to let you know how it works!