Chickpeas have existed forever in the Mediterranean. They have been found in Jericho, and they were probably consumed under the walls of Troy by the Myrmidons. They are cheap, nutritious and connected to historical memory (ground chickpeas were used as a cheap alternative to coffee during the big wars of the 20th century).
Most bizarrely, roasted chickpeas are eaten as a snack, similar to nuts; I had not had them for a number of years, and thinking about them reminds me of ‘simpler times’. They go exceptionally well with whiskey.
To prepare the chickpeas
- 200g dry chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
- 150g onions, finely chopped
- 800ml water
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 pinch sea salt
For the leeks
- 6 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, cut into 2cm pieces (about 700g)
- 3/4 olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 1/2 cup white dry wine
- 1 cup grated or puréed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
- 1 tsp sugar (optional, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes)
- 3 cups very well drained boiled chickpeas
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To prepare the chickpeas
Soak the chickpeas overnight (8-12 hours) in a large bowl with plenty of cold water to allow them to double in size and still remain completely covered. Next day, strain the chickpeas and rinse clean under cold water.
Place the chickpeas in the pressure cooker and add enough fresh water to cover them (about 800ml). Add the onions and the olive oil. Bring the chickpea mixture to a boil, close the pressure cooker tightly, and once it begins releasing steam, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 40 minutes (or according to directions for your own pressure cooker). Once you remove the cooker from the heat and release the pressure as directed for your cooker, check to see if the chickpeas are as soft as you like them. If not, cook them for some more minutes.
When fully cooked, remove from the heat and season with a pinch of salt.*
Drain the chickpeas from their liquid** and set aside.
To prepare the leeks.
Heat the olive oil and the dried chilli flakes (if using) in a large, wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks, season with a pinch of salt and cook for about 10 minutes stirring gently from time to time.
Pour in the wine. As soon as it steams up, add the tomatoes and the sugar. Cover, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes.
Add the cooked and drained chickpeas, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for 10 more minutes.
*At this point if you add some lemon juice you can have them as a chickpea soup.
**Sometimes I keep the liquid (and a few chickpeas) and cook rice in it.