I ended up with a bit of a Greek themed This Weeks menu a week or so ago. It was unintentional, but certainly enjoyed.
While in Paros we did a day trip on a boat. It was a beautiful day. Captain Yiannis (FB link, too) had a beautiful boat and a great crew. We got there early and thought, maybe, for brief moment, the 10 of us might have the boat to ourselves, which would have been pretty amazing. I have to say, showing up to an amazing hotel in Santorini to find we had they whole place to ourselves, two villas and pools, REALLY spoiled us! Shortly thereafter the other passengers began arriving, as expected. We cruised out of the port with a group of 25-30 people, sipping coffee and nibbling moustokouloura (Grape wine must cookies – so good!) enjoying the morning sun and views of the Aegean sea.
We toured the Cyclades (anti-Paros, Naxos and others) and throughout the day we stopped in at least 5 spots for boat jumping and swimming. We swam through caves and the more adventurous went jumping off a few cliffs. Captain Yiannis and crew provided a delicious lunch of grilled pork souvlaki, tzatizki, eggplant salad, greek salad and baked chick peas.
The baked chick peas were amazing. I knew before I finished my plate this was a dish I was going to try to recreate at home. I talked to our friend’s mom when we returned to Athens to get a basic idea of how to make the dish and then relied on some googling when I got home. As with many of the dishes we had, the recipe was very simple. Some good olive oil, lemon, rosemary and a bit of time (in the oven) made the simple more than the sum of its parts.
To start, soak the chick peas overnight with a teaspoon of baking soda. This aids in softening the skin allowing for better water absorption, or so they say. Start by sautéing the carrots, celery, onion, herbs in olive oil.
Add soaked (drained and rinsed) chickpeas. Add enough water to cover about an inch, top with sliced tomatoes and bake. The baking is more of a slow and low cook. It will take a while. But cook until chickpeas are soft and the stew has thickened a bit. I cooked mine in the oven, but some of the recipes did call for stovetop cooking. I would also add in a bit of flour to thicken the cooking liquid just a bit the next time I make it. I mashed a few of the chickpeas and got the same effect in the end. I think I ended up cooking for about 4.5 hours at 350F
Cyclades Baked Chick Peas
adapted slightly from Kalofagas Blog
500 g dried chick peas
2 med carrots
1 celery stalk
2 medium onions
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
juice of 1 lemon
~6 cups water
top with tomato slices
1/2 tsp salt
In a large non metal bowl soak chick peas overnight covered by about 2 inches of water with 1 tsp of baking soda.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Start by heating olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or oven proof dish. Add carrots, celery, onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook until onions are translucent and vegetables are beginning to soften. Add drained and rinsed chick peas, salt, pepper, lemon juice to the cooked vegetables.
In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup cold water and 2 tbs flour, mix until there are no lumps. Pour over pea and vegetables. Add enough water (~5-6 cups) to cover of water until everything is completely covered by ~1 inch of water. Stir to combine. Float/layer sliced tomatoes on top. Cover and cook 4-5 hr until chickpeas are soft and broth has thickened slightly. You may want to smash some of the chickpeas and stir them into the broth if you would like it thicker.
Top with squeeze of lemon before serving.