In Spain, the chickpea (garbanzo in Spanish) is a staple ingredient, frequently used in cocidos, or one-pot meals. The tasty legume has a great affinity for the strong flavours in Spanish cooking, such as pork, sausages, tomatoes, garlic, onions, pimenton and cumin.
Dry chickpeas are soaked overnight, or for at least eight hours in cold water, then simmered slowly until tender, for about two hours. When properly cooked, they are tender but never mushy, with a delicious, nutty flavour no other dried legume has. In Spain, where chickpeas are cooked daily, home cooks often use a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time. In the pressure cooker, garbanzos are done in about 40 minutes, and as long as they are cooked with other flavourful ingredients, it is hard to tell the difference from simmered chickpeas.
In Australia I always look for kabuli chickpeas from the Ord River region of Western Australia. The prawns in this dish can be replaced with salmon if you prefer. The soup is a perfect winter warmer, and so simple.
CHORIZO AND CHICKPEA SOUP
350g chorizo sausage
1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, seeded, cut into 1cm pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
400ml tin chopped tomatoes
1.5 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight then cooked until tender
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
Add the chorizo sausage whole, onion and capsicum to a heavy-based five-litre pot with a small amount of oil, and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat or until soft. Add the garlic, paprika and thyme and cook for another couple of minutes, or until fragrant. Add the cooked chickpeas and tomatoes and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then lower to a simmer for about half an hour. Before serving, remove the chorizo, chop it into 1cm slices, then return to the soup with the parsley. Season with salt and pepper then serve.
CRUMBED PRAWNS WITH GARLIC CHICKPEA SALAD
300g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water
2 garlic heads
12 large green prawns, peeled and deveined
50g plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
150g Japanese (panko) breadcrumbs
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stick, peeled and chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp mint leaves
Salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 170C. Drain chickpeas, put them in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, then cook for about 2 hours or until chickpeas are soft. Set aside to cool in their water. Slice the top off the garlic bulbs then drizzle a little oil on top, wrap the garlic in foil and bake for 1 hour. Set aside cooked garlic to cool.
Meanwhile, dip the prawns first in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Set aside on a tray in the fridge.
In a fresh saucepan over a high heat, add a little olive oil and cook the anchovies, breaking them up. Then stir in the vegetables and add more oil. Cook the vegetables for 10 minutes without browning before adding ¾ of the cooked chickpeas, reserving the chickpea cooking water. Cover the vegetables with stock and squeeze the roasted garlic from the bulbs into the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add vinegar and blend until smooth, only adding enough cooking water to make a smooth puree. Check the seasoning.
To serve, reheat the puree and reheat remaining chickpeas in their cooking water. Bring a heavy-based frying pan up to a high heat and fry the prawns in plenty of vegetable oil, turning once. Drain the cooked prawns on kitchen paper, then divide the puree between four plates, top with remaining chickpeas, place prawns on top and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and torn mint leaves.
When cooking chickpeas after soaking overnight, cover them in warm water and cook with no salt as this hardens the surface of the chickpea. Once done, leave them to cool in the cooking liquid.