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
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.
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
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.
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.