Olive Oil Braised Chickpeas are an incredibly simple, elegant, and delicious appetizer. Easily vegan, or fancied up with a bit of cheese over the top.
I've been burning the candle at both ends pretty hard lately, or, as my sister aptly put it, I've been working 8 days a week. I'm tired, cranky, and have reached the self-deprecation phase of overwhelm where I'm beating myself up for not getting out of bed earlier (after staying up far too late), not being more organized (with a million balls in the air) and not getting more done.
The thing is, it's mathematically impossible. I'm working three bigger contracts, each of which take up 50-60% of my work week, plus wrapping things up with a few nutrition clients, plus one of my smaller freelance gigs, plus this blog. Oh, and plus that whole thing where I'm a mom.
If you're a long time reader, you may recognize this as a pattern. Working full-time and teaching courses on the side. Working full-time and going back to school full time. Doing a full-time MSc thesis project and starting a full-time job. Periods of pitch insanity when I was working at a brand agency.
The difference is, each of those times before there was and end in sight. I knew when the course would be ending, the thesis was due, or the pitch was scheduled. This time, I'm newly self-employed and am holding onto each of those contracts like a security blanket. I know what I should be letting go of, yet, I'm afraid that if I do, something else will go up in smoke.
I suppose that this is one of my final lessons for 2017, and learning to live with the discomfort of uncertainty is one of my challenges for next year. The reality is that even when you have a full-time job there is only an illusion of stability, and being self-employed just pushes insecurity into the spotlight.
I need to balance the equation and let go of the thing that brings me the least joy, for many reasons (hello, my sanity?) but an important one being the bank of future projects and ideas that I'm excited about but never get around to because I'm spending too much time on other things that ultimately don't really matter.
We host a holiday dinner each year for our closest friends, most of us global transplants without any family nearby. It is a potluck, thankfully, and while normally I try to pull out all the stops and make some elaborate dishes, this year I called shotgun on the cheese and appy platter. I'm just too damn tired for anything else.
With the holiday party season in full swing, I wanted to share a dish with you that's elegant, delicious, and worthy of your holiday table, yet so easy to pull together that even if you're quite literally at the end of your rope, you could make this.
These Olive Oil Braised Chickpeas take no more than 10 minutes of hands on time. That includes all of the chopping (just an onion and a hot pepper if you please), a lil' bit of sauté action on the stove top, opening your cans of chickpeas (or make my Instant Pot Chickpeas!), mixing everything together with a generous dose of olive oil, and chucking the whole mess into the oven.
A few notes about this dish:
- As written it's totally vegan, and also totally delicious!
- But! If you are serving it to people of the cheese eating persuasion, I heartily recommend that just before serving you tear apart a ball of burrata with your fingers and scatter it over the top.
- I've used capers in this dish as they're my go-to for that salty, briny favour, which you really need to counteract the richness of the olive oil. If you're not into capers, olives would do the trick.
- These Olive Oil Braised Chickpeas are great warm or at room temperature, which means this dish is a great make-ahead dish.
- The recipe doubles really well if you're feeding a big crowd. Just remember to put out an extra baguette!
- I pulled together my Olive Oil Braised Chickpeas in a small oval dutch oven, which meant I could do everything in the same pot and avoid dirtying up another dish. If you don't have a stove-to-oven dish that would work for this, it's totally fine, you'll just need to sauté your onions on the stove top and then transfer to an oven-proof dish for braising.
Hey Nutrition Lady, isn't that a looooootttttt of olive oil in this dish?
Why yes, yes it is. But keep in mind that these olive oil braised chickpeas aren't intended to be a meal, they're intended to be an appetizer or an accompaniment to a meal. They're meant to replace a cheese plate, which would be loaded in saturated fat (and also in calcium and protein; I'm not here to demonize cheese).
The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are considered a heart healthy fat when consumed in moderation, and while pouring ¾ cup of olive oil into a dish may not seem moderate, when you split the braised chickpeas amongst six people it works out to less than three tablespoons of olive oil per person. Plus we've got a lot of chickpeas up in here, adding a good dose of dietary fiber and plant-based protein to the mix.
Extra virgin olive oil is an amazing healthy oil, rich in antioxidants (it is particularly rich in beta-carotene and vitamin E) and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Olive oil is a unique plant oil in terms of its fat composition, about 75% of the fat is found in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fat).
There have been a myriad of studies pointing to the benefits of consuming olive oil related to fighting and preventing certain cancers, cardiovascular health, digestive health, and more.
Other easy appetizers you might enjoy:
Olive Oil Braised Chickpeas
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red onion finely diced
- 2 14-ounce cans chickpeas drained and rinsed
- ⅓ cup capers drained
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 small red chili thinly sliced
- ½ lemon thinly sliced
- flakey sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oven to 375°F / 190°C.
- Place a small dutch oven over medium heat and add a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil.
- Add the onions, and sauté until they are softened and beginning to brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the dutch oven from the heat, and add the remaining olive oil, chickpeas, capers, sliced chili, salt, pepper, and thyme sprigs. Stir to combine. Arrange lemon slices over the top of the chickpeas.
- Cover with a lid, or with foil if your dish doesn't have a lid, and place in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the oil is bubbling and the chickpeas are soft.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle the top with cheese if you're using it.
- Serve with slices of baguette.
Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker