HEY GUYS. This blog is not dead!!! It’s been far too long since the last post, and I shall spare you from my excuses. I’ve still been experimenting (read: playing) with food regularly on my Instagram @cherylishungry, so (shameless plug alert ;P) feel free to follow if my foodporn and mildly frenzied writing style catch your fancy.
So lately I’ve rediscovered chickpeas, one of my favourite snacks as a kid. I’ve always been a hungry person, not to mention a grossly overweight hungry kid… I recall buying little plastic bags full of these boiled peas from my school canteen and scarfing them down really greedily. They didn’t even taste THAT good – just plain, lightly salted and easy to chew – but sadly it was one of the few permitted snacks that fat kids at my school could consume. No chips, sweetened drinks for all of us blown-out-of-proportion fatties 😦 ANYWAY this versatile, healthier choice snack is a great source of protein, which makes it popular among those vegetarian/vegan types. Whizz them up with olive oil, garlic, tahini for a luxuriant hummus dip. Or turn them into addictive, crunchy snacks, even better than popcorn!
Who knew, that a boring can of chickpeas soaking in a cloudy bath of notsonicesmelling liquid could be brought to life simply by baking. Simply drain a can of chickpeas and pat them dry with paper towels. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and spread them out evenly on a baking tray (lined with baking paper to make cleaning easier!), then bake at 200 degrees for around 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Even better, jazz up your peas with spices before chucking them into the oven. Paprika, garlic powder, ground cayenne, cumin, even maple syrup! I used ground sumac, a Turkish spice that’s tart, zesty and has a light berry fragrance. The result is crunchy, savoury chickpeas that may transform you into a uncontrollable chomping monster à la young and obese cherylishungry. Hee.
So what to do with a whole bunch of crunchy chickpea…chips? (For lack of a better name) Enjoy on its own, pair them with salads, maybe even load them onto baked potatoes! I paired mine with purple sweet potatoes! They’re a little sweeter than orange ones, though I mainly used them because I’m an absolute sucker for camera-friendly, photogenic foods (whatever they are lol) and for colour contrast against the orangey chickpeas (again, shameless).
Halve the sweet potato (let your aesthetic sensibilities guide your colour choice yeah), coat all over with olive oil, then sprinkle some salt on the flesh part and place it face down on a lined baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes at 200 degrees, until the insides are soft. Mash the insides around a bit, within the sweet potato skin. Top with a cheese of your choice – I used my favourite grana padano cheese which is delightfully nutty, with a hint of sweetness. Regular mozzarella will do fine as well. Bake again for 5 minutes until the cheese melts. Top with the crunchy chickpeas, chopped scallions and coarse pepper. TUCK IN like the hungry monster living in every one of us.
I must say this is one of the most satisfying vegetarian snacks I’ve had. A smoky sweetness from the sweet potatoes, combined with saltiness of the cheese and chickpeas, and a refreshing zing from the sumac. Definitely gonna experiment with more baked chickpea flavours. TILL NEXT TIME! Let me leave you with a close up of this glorious natural shade of purple *goes weak in the knees*.