Here at Milk Street, we’re big fans of the nutty, sweet flavor and meaty texture of chickpeas. We’ve developed countless recipes from a variety of cuisines in which they play a starring role. While canned chickpeas are fine and a terrific option for fast weeknight meals, we prefer the fuller flavor and creamier texture of dried chickpeas cooked from scratch. Soaking them also produces a flavorful broth that can be used as a replacement for chicken or vegetable broth, making a big pot of chickpeas an easy two-for-one recipe to launch a week’s worth of recipes.
So this Sunday, soak and cook dried chickpeas, and then whip up hummus, a double portion of Israeli Spiced Beef (Kawarma), and a sheet pan of roasted tomatoes. You'll end up with the foundation of four dinners, plus lunch options, that are bold and flavorful, but require little time to prepare. You've got other things to do.
Cook Dried Chickpeas
Soak each 1 pound of chickpeas in 8 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of Diamond Crystal kosher salt (if using Morton’s, reduce to 1½ tablespoons. Soak for at least 12 hours (and up to 24) before draining and bringing to a boil in 6 cups of fresh water seasoned with 1½ teaspoons salt. For flavoring the broth, we recommend adding a halved onion, a large, quartered carrot, 2 celery stalks or fennel stems, a head of garlic with the top lopped off and a pair of bay leaves. Once boiling, cover and slide into a preheated 250℉ oven and cook for at least 1 hour before beginning to check for tenderness. It may take double that depending on the age of the beans. Once the beans have cooled, discard the vegetables, squeeze the cloves of garlic out of their husks and stir into the liquid. Store the beans in their cooking liquid in an airtight container for up to 5 days. One pound of dried beans yields 6 cups cooked beans, which is roughly 4 1/2 to 5 cans of beans; we recommend cooking 2 pounds for a family of four.
With a portion of your fresh-cooked beans and broth, make Hummus; serve with Spiced beef and pita, reserving leftovers for weekday lunches.
This simple, richly spiced ground beef is often served over hummus, but it's also a terrific way to enhance your basic tomato sauce, dollop on rice, slather on store-bought pizza dough with feta (a spin on mana’eesh) or tuck into an omelet with a spoonful of thick yogurt. Make a double batch.
While mid-winter supermarket tomatoes don’t taste great raw, slow roasting them will coax out a deep and fruity flavor. These tomatoes will enhance everything from soups, stews and pastas to salads and sandwiches. Squeeze a couple halves into the middle of your next grilled cheese.
The rest of the week...
MONDAY: Spice-Crusted Steak with Smashed Chickpeas
Cut a 1½ pounds flat iron steak into 3 or 4 pieces and soak in ¼ cup soy sauce for 20 minutes. In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons each of ground cumin and fennel with 2 teaspoons each kosher salt and ground black pepper. Pat the steak dry, then coat it with all but 1 tablespoon of the mixture. Set aside. In a large bowl, use a potato masher to roughly mash 3 ½ cups of drained chickpeas. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, cook the chickpeas in 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil until heated, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in ½ bunch of thinly sliced scallions, another 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, ¼ cup lemon juice and 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves. Season with salt and pepper, then mound on one side of a serving platter. Wipe out the skillet, then cook the steak in another 2 tablespoons of oil until well browned on both sides and 120°F at the center, 6 to 10 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes, then thinly slice against the grain and arrange next to the mashed chickpeas. Pour over any accumulated juices and sprinkle with additional sliced scallions and the remaining 1-tablespoon spice mixture.
TUESDAY: Pasta with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Arugula and Fresh Mozzarella
Cook 12 ounces of your favorite chunky pasta (we like orecchiette), reserving ½ cup of the pasta water. Toss with chopped slow-roasted tomatoes and some of the juices, chopped arugula, sliced Peppadew peppers (optional) and enough pasta water and extra-virgin olive oil to moisten. Fold in cubed fresh mozzarella cheese and serve immediately with fresh-ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes.
WEDNESDAY: Spiced Beef with Rice and Feta
Make your favorite type of rice (we like brown) and top with spiced beef, crumbled feta and chopped scallions. If you like, add blanched greens drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice or carrots roasted with whole cumin seeds and slicked with honey.
THURSDAY: Herbed Bulgur Pilaf with Crispy Chickpeas
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 chopped shallots and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1½ cups coarse bulgur and cook, stirring constantly, until it has a nutty aroma, about 1 minute. Stir in 2¼ cups water and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook until the bulgur is tender and has absorbed the liquid, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover and drape a kitchen towel over the pan. Replace the cover and let stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and folding in ½ cup each chopped dill and parsley and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. While the bulgur cooks, put 2 cups chickpeas in a medium bowl, sprinkle with the cornstarch and toss. Transfer to a mesh strainer and shake to remove excess cornstarch. In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 4 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with 1 teaspoon each cumin and smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the bulgur.
(If you’ve run out of chickpeas, top the pilaf with sautéed chicken, roast salmon or even broiled tempeh drizzled with honey and extra-virgin olive oil.)