Crunchy Roast Chickpeas with Za’atar, good and good for you
Jan 10, 2013, Updated Jan 04, 2023
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I know I’m far from alone in starting off the New Year with ideals of eating well. That’s the kind of commitment that will contribute to making the year a happy one. I spent the better part of last year not feeling so hot, and altered eating habits were forced on me under protest.
But that did not nor has it ever really meant reducing my sugar intake by much. As you know from all sorts of posts, I love my sweets. I just do and no matter how much I want to be an agave-only, and sweets-on-special-occasions girl, I have not attempted to achieve that level discipline, and I may never (it’s got to be hereditary; when I spoke with my mom in Florida about my upcoming visit, I said I’m going to make us cream puffs! She said: I was JUST thinking about cream puffs!).
But what I can do is keep finding good fixes, be they salty or sweet, for my afternoon hankerings. I’d like to blame the mid-day hungries on my relatively new life as a hermit-writer, but I had the afternoon crack attacks pretty much every day when I was working in Chicago. The idea that when you plan for the hankerings, you’ll eat much better, is finally getting through to me. When I haven’t planned, and I don’t have a great snack, or a handful of super good fruit, or a little bowl of vegetables sprinkled with salt to take my mind off of those orange slices (the jelly candy version of course, not actuals) that I bought in a hunger-driven grocery run, that’s when I get into trouble.
I’ve been wondering about roasted chickpeas for a couple of years (sometimes it takes a while for my actions to catch up with my mind). I did try them one rainy Saturday afternoon when I lived in San Francisco, and they came out nothing short of mushy. I figured they’re much better in hummus, so I’d just leave it at that.
I was missing the key to a crunchy outcome: dry the chickpeas out thoroughly before roasting them. Then, once blasted in a hot oven, they become a seriously healthy conduit for just about any flavor combination you can dream up. You get the same hand-to-mouth pleasure that you would with a bowl of popcorn or chocolate-covered peanuts, the satisfaction of hearing your own mouth crunch (which means yummy things are happening), and depending on what you’ve put on your chickpeas, like za’atar, you might also get to lick your fingers. This can only lead to feeling pretty happy, like you’ve done something really good for yourself, because you have.
Crunchy Roast Chickpeas with Za’atar (and other ideas)
This is health food at its very best. Chickpeas are packed with fiber, protein and vitamins, knocking other coated crunchy snacks out of the ballpark. I’ve tried a few different flavor combinations to get the hang of it; try anything that sounds good to you, from garlic parmesan to simple sea salt. Be sure not to add the oil and coatings until after the chickpeas are roasted, so that they’ll crunch up. Some toppings are great placed back in the oven after they’re stirred into the roasted chickpeas (like brown sugar and spices, to caramelize the sugar).
2 cups cooked chickpeas (from dry or canned)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons za’atar
½ teaspoon salt
Rinse the chickpeas and spread on a paper towel to dry out for an hour or so.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and place chickpeas on the pan. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring and rotating every 10 minutes. Taste a chickpea or two. If they are crunchy, they’re done. If not, keep going until they are.
Place hot chickpeas in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, za’atar and salt.
Try these ideas too (all begin with a drizzle of olive oil over the hot chickpeas, then the flavorings):
Honey + cinnamon
Smoked paprika +cayenne+salt
Truffle salt (incredibly good)
Print this recipe here.