Might Be in the Top 10

July 13, 2011

As a food blogger, the photography portion is not my strong point.  I know this.  I consider myself to be on the low side of decent.  I’m better than many and worse than many.  I am at peace with my place in the food photography world.  When I have the time and some creative juices are flowing, I may take a picture that is better than decent.  But most of the time I am rushing, fighting against the waning light or the ticking of the clock and my husband’s appetite and patience.  You might notice that my sweet shots tend to be better than my savory.  That is because I can shoot cookies the morning after I have made them and when I don’t have anyone wondering when we are going to be ready to eat already.

I mention this now because it is truly a shame that I don’t have the skills or the tools to make this dish look more exciting than it does in these photos.  You might look at them and think, “Chickpeas – yum.”  You might look at the recipe and think, “That’s it?”  Have you been reading this site for a while?  Do you trust me?  You know I am not prone to hyperbole, right?  That I am the first to admit when something does not live up to my expectations or didn’t turn out right, or was just so-so?  I have to say, this is one of the best dinners I have made in a while.  And if we are talking about dinners that take next to no effort, then this might be Top of 2011 So Far.  Randy, who always says, “Thank you for a nice dinner” but often just plows his way through his plate without fully appreciating what is there, said no fewer than six times, “Oh wow this is yum!” and got up to get his own seconds.  Except there were none!  (Hint: Double the recipe!)

How is this possible?  It’s shallot, a few dried herbs, chickpeas, broth and lemon juice.  Oh, but wait.  There are also some slow roasted tomatoes and slow roasted cloves of garlic that make an appearance just before serving time and those two things add so much depth, such savory umami-ness, almost creaminess to this dish.  I am no stranger to slow-roasted tomatoes or to roasted garlic.  But I would never have thought to include them in a chickpea stew and shame! on! me! for not doing this sooner.

So, I made two mistakes.  Mistake #1 was that I opted out of making a full batch of the tomatoes.  My thinking went along the lines of “why on earth do I need to buy 8 pounds of tomatoes and have 5 jars of slow roasted tomatoes and garlic in my refrigerator?”  Silly silly Dana.  If I had made the full batch, we could have this dinner once a week which would make both of us very happy.  I could also use those tomatoes and garlic in all manner of things.  Mistake #2 was not listening to my gut when it told me that 325º is far too high for slow roasting anything.  Sure enough, after about an hour the edges of the tomatoes were starting to turn one shade of brown past caramelization and I pulled them out.  Sometimes I feel this blog exists so that I can make mistakes so you don’t have to…

One Year Ago: Fresh Pea Soup with Pea Jelly
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Bars
Three Years Ago: Raspberry Cream Sandwiches

Lemony Chickpea and Oven-Dried Tomato Stew
Adpated from Food & Wine
Serves 2-3

I think this was originally meant as a side.  If you are making it as a main, I would definitely double it, even for 2.  Leftovers would be amazing but I wouldn’t know since we didn’t have any.  Because I didn’t have enough tomatoes, I added some sun-dried ones as well to bulk my stew up.  Don’t be tempted to skip making the oven-dried ones though.  Trust me.  Finally, I sprinkled a bit of chopped mint over top for color – normally I use parsley but I was out.  We both liked the flavor of the mint so that is a keeper step.

Olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
3 cups vegetable broth
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup Oven-Dried Tomatoes, coarsely chopped, plus 4 garlic cloves from the jar
2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint

Place a large saucepan over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add the shallot along with a large pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the chickpeas, oregano, bay leaf, and crushed red pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the herbs are fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add the broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Simmer the stew over moderately low heat until the broth is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the Oven-Dried Tomatoes and the garlic and simmer for 5 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf.  Season the stew with salt and serve over with rice or with crusty bread.  Garnish with chopped mint.

Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Makes 2½ pints

8 pound firm but ripe plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
½ cup olive oil, plus more for packing
2 heads garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
12 large thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 250º and position 2 racks just above and just below the middle of the oven.  Working over a medium bowl, pry the seeds and pulp out of the tomatoes and discard.  Pour ¼ cup of the olive oil onto each of 2 very sturdy, rimmed, light-colored baking sheets.  Arrange the tomatoes, cut side down on the baking sheets and scatter the garlic and thyme all around.  Make a tiny slit on each tomato.

Bake the tomatoes for about 45 minutes, until the skins begin to wrinkle.  Shift the pans from top to bottom halfway through.  Carefully pinch off the skins.  Flip each tomato and bake until the surface looks dry, about 1 hour.  Flip the tomatoes again and continue baking until the surfaces look dry but the tomatoes are still slightly plump, about 2 hours longer.  Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and let cool completely.

Discard the thyme sprigs and peel the garlic cloves.  Layer the tomatoes with the garlic in five ½-pint jars.  Add enough olive oil to cover the tomatoes by at least 1 inch.  Slide the blade of a knife along the side of each jar to release any air bubbles.  Seal the jar and refrigerate for up to 2 months or freeze for up to 6 months.


  1. I think it’s hard to photograph pasta or chickpeas (and for me, cookies!).
    I love this recipe and have 2 upcoming chickpea salads to post. So yummy!

    Comment by stacey snacks — July 13, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

  2. I can’t wait to try this one! And your photos are fabulous:)

    Comment by Maria — July 13, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

  3. Dana, I think your photos are just lovely, and that they do the dish well. I make “chickpea” stew often – we are HUGE fans of chickpeas over at Chez. I am dying for the dry farmed tomatoes to start showing their smiling faces, so I can slow roast some as well. I usually don’t add garlic, but am going to use your recipe next time I start roasting!

    Comment by Chez Us — July 13, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

  4. I think this looks delicious. But what is the green stuff chopped on it (as the recipe states “dried oregano”? At first I thought it was chard, finely chopped.

    Last year we made a few batches of oven-dried tomatoes (ala Orangette) and stuck them in the freezer. I think we had 4 half-pints and I definitely want more this year. They were the best to brighten up dishes in the middle of the winter. However I didn’t cover ours with oil, which made taking just a few out at a time easy.

    Comment by Michelle — July 13, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

  5. First of all. I LOVE the photos. Don’t want to hear any ifs, ands, or BUTS about that. The end.

    Second of all. This has all of my favorite ingredients in one place. Especially slow-roasted tomatoes. Those things are fabulous.

    Comment by Joanne — July 13, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

  6. looks yummy and healthy after my indulgent bkfst of waffles at a work breakfast.

    where does one find a rushed red pepper? ;-) (¼ tsp. rushed red pepper)

    Comment by angela — July 13, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

  7. Looks amazing! Could you clarify the baking times for the tomatoes a bit? Is it ~45min, then another hour, then another 2 hours, for about 4 hours total?

    Comment by A fan — July 13, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

  8. Angela, that is what happens when you rush. :) Fixing it now…

    Comment by dana — July 13, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

  9. Michelle, it’s actually chopped mint. I thought it looked too monochromatic for the photo and I didn’t have any parsley. We actually liked the flavor of the mint so I will amend the recipe to reflect the garnish.

    Comment by dana — July 13, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

  10. Yes, according to the recipe, it’s 45, then an hour, then another 2. I did not bake mine for nearly as long, as I said in the post, so I’m not sure if that is actually way too long or what. If someone makes them, will they report back and let us all know about timing?

    Comment by dana — July 13, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

  11. This looks fabulous, looking forward to trying it! And your pictures are great! I had to laugh, I just got a new Nikon for my birthday and I’ve been trying to get the hang of photographing my recipes, much to my husband’s dismay when we’re about to dig in. Thanks for making me smile!

    Comment by Allison — July 13, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

  12. Joining the rest here in saying, I love your photos! But I know how you feel. I constantly think, I could post this recipe if it weren’t so dark and I could actually photograph it, or screw it, I’m too tired to whip out the camera, let’s just eat! Each post is truly an accomplishment, and I so love yours. I’m always looking for new ways to make substantial meals with chickpeas, this is great.

    PS: I have almost finished the jar of peppers! I can’t stop eating them, and neither can my mother. For lunch lately I’ve taken really good toast, smashed some avocado on it, and topped it with a little lemon, sea salt, and peppers. Absolute heaven. I will be buying a case :).

    Comment by Clara — July 14, 2011 @ 3:04 am

  13. I too am at peace with my not-great-but-basically-acceptable photo skills. However, this meal looks great and something I’d probably keep on hand as a weekday staple. Though I might skimp on the time needed to bake those tomatoes as I’m so impatient!

    Comment by kickpleat — July 14, 2011 @ 5:39 am

  14. That sounds lovely Dana, but alas I would be in the same position with the tomatoes, but only because I wouldn’t have enough room in my built in fridge.

    Comment by Jacqueline — July 14, 2011 @ 7:46 am

  15. My family knows not to stick a fork into anything until the camera is put away. I can hardly wait to make the tomatoes, they are gorgeous here right now, and I have been a canning fool. I like this with no pressure cooking!

    Comment by susie — July 14, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

  16. Thanks for making the mistakes so we don’t have to! Looks like another on my list to try – I wonder if I could stick a bit of spinach in, I let a bunch self seed in my garden and it’s everywhere.

    Comment by Luann — July 15, 2011 @ 1:56 am

  17. First, I’ve always been impressed with your photography. You have a gift, but your humility is quite sweet. Second, this doesn’t look boring AT ALL. I love anything with oven dried tomatoes and I totally agree one must make many many of them and keep them on hand. Yum. Yum. Thanks for posting. It’s nice to be back here again, Dana. xo

    Comment by redmenace — July 15, 2011 @ 2:03 am

  18. chickpeas are my favorite..love, love them!
    I think your photos are fantastic, but I too suffer from feelings of photography inadequacy! It’s fun anyway!

    Comment by alex — July 15, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

  19. Your photos always look nice and the food always looks amazing. I’m thinking this sounds good for dinner as soon as the humidity goes down here and I can turn my oven on…I’m looking forward to making it!

    Comment by melinda ke — July 15, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

  20. I am a newbie to taking pictures of food. I think your pictures are great! I love chickpeas! I usually use them for homemade hummus. Sometimes I just throw them into soup. Thanks for another idea! I just gave you a shout out on my blog because your ccc cookies look so perfect!

    Comment by Gloria — July 15, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  21. I am sure this dish is delicious; I just made a traditional chick peas and eggplant dish and I know it is going to look like a porridge, but the taste is great! Tough is it not?

    Comment by tasteofbeirut — July 16, 2011 @ 4:06 am

  22. I love it when a nice, simple recipe takes you by surprise like this. Roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and lemon sounds like a fantastic combination here. And, are you kidding? Your photos are always great!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — July 16, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

  23. I also think your photos are great, Dana…

    (I’m having trouble posting comments again, not sure why, I suspect it is something on my end)

    I cross my fingers now that this comment will go

    Anyway, lovely post…

    Comment by SallyBR — July 18, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  24. First of all, I think the photos are terrific, but I know what you mean because people tell me they like my photos and I am always the most critical person. The chickpeas are just begging to be prepared and eaten – this is a great summertime recipe.

    Comment by ciaochowlinda — July 18, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  25. Dana-

    Made this dish this weekend for the fam and it was a winner for sure. I did double the recipe and can confirm both that the leftovers were delicious and that the nearly 4 hours at 250 degrees made for some perfect tomotoes. Also, even after the doubling of the recipe I had some leftover tomatoes and lots of leftover garlic so last night I toasted some wheat bread, buttered both sides, sliced half an avocado, layered on some of the roasted tomato and a few roasted garlic cloves and ended up with one of the best sandwhiches I have ever eaten.

    Comment by Ryan — July 25, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

  26. I haven’t been on your blog in so long…but don’t take it personally! I haven’t blogged or been reading any blogs in the last few months…blame it on it being my first year as a working mom. But I will say this–your photos are great in my book. In fact, it was the picture of the chickpeas that first caught my eye and made me read this post.

    Your blog is my very favorite of all the ones on my blogroll!

    Comment by HappyTummy — August 6, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  27. Hello! This is my first time commenting on your blog, but I’ve loved reading it for several months ever since my sister-in-law, Deanna, introduced it it me (she’s taken a couple of your classes recently).

    On the day you posted this recipe, I just happened to be looking for a dinner recipe to use up some chickpeas, and your recipe saved the day. It was so delicious! I took the extra effort to make the oven-dried tomatoes, and I think they are what made the dish shine. Thanks for the great recipe and keep up the good work!

    Comment by Andrea — August 8, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  28. I love finding new delicious chickpea recipes and this one sounds like a really good one!

    Comment by Ashley — August 16, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

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