1. Chickpeas seem to be having a moment, don't they? I mean, they're everywhere—in Plenty, Jerusalem, Super Natural Every Day, and of course, perennially in your lunchtime hummus. They are the Maggie Smith of legumes. (Because she's also an old standby who's having a moment right now. Good one, Amerzz!) But as much as I've cooked with them through the years, not once have I started with them in their dried-out state. So, I thought I'd give it a shot and see what every recipe that calls for dried chickpeas, but then says something in parentheses, mildly shaming you, like, "canned chickpeas are fine too" was talking about.
And then there's the fact that Matt and I live a mere 20-minute drive from both Pizzeria and Osteria Mozza. So, when faced with the question: "Should I buy octopus and then sear it in the pan, and then use 8 cups of olive oil to poach it, and then finish it off on the grill, in order to recreate the grilled octopus salad, or should I just go sit at the bar at Osteria Mozza any Monday through Wednesday where they offer up an affordable pre fixe?" the answer is clear.
—or chickpeas—are the real stars of this dish and what I'll be taking away from this experience. Don't get me wrong. The salad is completely delicious, but I feel like when you spend that much time turning the humble chickpea into a silky, vaguely smoky, subtly spiced, buttery piece of food, you should kind of just toss them with some pasta and Swiss chard and call it a day.
Plus, when you make the ceci, you're left with a brightly flavored (particularly so for only using vegetables) broth. Looking very forward to using the below in the near future.
Also, stay tuned for next week where we'll be offering up a video tip that just might save your life!The Mozza Cookbook)
serves 4 as a starter or 2 (generously) as a main course
1/2 small red onion, cut in half from top to bottom
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 medium head radicchio
1 pint small, sweet cherry tomatoes, such as Sun Golds or Sweet 100s, cut into halves
1 1/2 cups cooked Ceci (recipe follows)
1/4 pound aged provolone, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices, then cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1/4 pound Genoa salami, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices, then cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
5 peperoncini (stems discarded), cut into thin slices (about 1/4 cup)
Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon (1 tablespoon), or more to taste
Dried oregano (preferably Sicilian oregano on the branch), for sprinkling
1/2 cup Oregano Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Separate the layers of the onion and stack two or three layers on top of one another, then cut them lengthwise into 1/16-inch-wide strips. Repeat with the remaining onion layers. Place the onion in a small bowl of ice water to sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Drain the onion and pat dry with paper towels before adding to the salad.
Cut the iceberg lettuce in half through the core. Remove and discard the outer leaves, and discard the core. Separate the lettuce leaves, stack two or three leaves on top of one another, then cut them lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Repeat with the remaining leaves; thinly slice the radicchio in the same way. Cut the tomatoes in half, season them with salt to taste, and toss gently.
Combine the lettuce, radicchio, tomatoes, chickpeas, provolone, salami, peperoncini and onion in a large, wide bowl. Season with salt to taste, and toss to thoroughly combine. Drizzle 6 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the salad, then sprinkle with the lemon juice; toss gently to coat the salad evenly. Taste, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette, plus salt and/or lemon juice as needed.
Transfer the salad to a large platter or divide it among individual plates, piling it like a mountain. Sprinkle the dried oregano leaves on top and serve.
To make the Ceci:
1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 tablespons kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and halved
1 celery rib, halved
1 dried arbol chile (I had New Mexico chiles. Seemed to work fine!)
16 garlic cloves
1/2 yellow onion, halved
Drain the chickpeas and put them in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them by 1 1/2 inches. Add the salt and the olive oil. Place the carrot, celery, chile, garlic, and onion in a double piece of cheesecloth and tie it into a closed bundle with kitchen twine. Add the bundle to the pot with the chickpeas and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the chickpeas until they are very tender and creamy, about 2 hours, adding more water to the pot as needed but never covering them by more than an inch to an inch and a half. (Cooking them in just enough water yields richer-tasting, creamier beans than if you were to just boil them in tons of water.) (Note: the time will vary greatly depending on how long you soaked the beans and how old the beans are; the time could be anywhere from 1 hour to as long as 4.)
Turn off the heat and allow the chickpeas to cool in the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the cheesecloth bundle. The chickpeas can be prepared to this point up to a week in advance. If you are using the chickpeas now, drain them, reserving the cooking liquid to use as a hearty, chickpea-flavored base for vegetable soup. To use later, transfer the chickpeas and the cooking liquid to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to use. Bring the chickpeas to room temperature and drain them before using.
For the Oregano Vinaigrette:
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or more to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Whisk together the vinegar, oregano, lemon juice, garlic and the salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes (to marinate the oregano). Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning, and add salt or lemon juice as needed.