En español | Some people have a sweet tooth, but my palate leans toward savory foods. Potato chips and any of the other salty, crunchy junk snacks are on my "foods to avoid" list, because I am proof that "you can't just eat one." The good news is that there are healthy snack options, and my new favorite is smoky oven-roasted chickpeas, also commonly known as garbanzo beans.
For years, nuts have been part of my daily snacking: Unlike chips, they're satisfying. My husband, David, and I often take a little time to sit before dinner with a glass of wine and a small dish of nuts. Sometimes we watch the news, but more often it's a time to catch up, make plans, strategize or talk current events. Some might argue we're consuming excess calories. But we've found that taking a few relaxing minutes to enjoy the wine and nuts curbs our appetite, making us less likely to nibble while preparing dinner or to overeat during dinner.
We keep a wide selection of nuts on hand, including roasted peanuts, Marcona almonds, pistachios and deluxe mixed nuts that I roast with my popular rosemary seasoning. But I'm always looking for new and interesting options, and was thrilled to discover chickpeas as a great high-fiber, low-fat snack.
I first tried fried chickpeas at a local restaurant and enjoyed them so much that I decided to replicate them at home. I quickly discovered that chickpeas are a little like eggplant: They'll absorb as much oil as you give them. I tried batch after batch, playing with the recipe until I got it right.
First, drain the canned chickpeas and dry them off as much as you can. The wetter they are when you put them in the oven, the longer it will take for them to roast. Especially if your oven heating element sits above the oven floor, it's important to adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position. Otherwise, the chickpeas tend to darken before they dry out.
Use a large-rimmed baking sheet (18 by 12 inches or equivalent). If the chickpeas are too crowded in the pan, they'll roast unevenly. Also: You'll find recipes that suggest adding seasonings to the chickpeas before roasting. Don't. Certain seasonings will cause the chickpeas to burn.
Smoky Oven-Roasted Chickpeas
Makes 2 cups
- 2 cans (15 to 16 ounces each) chickpeas, drained and thoroughly dried
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pimentón (smoked paprika)
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon each: salt and cayenne pepper
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss chickpeas with oil; turn onto a large-rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden-brown and crisp, shaking the pan a couple of times during the process, for 45 to 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix pimentón, zest, garlic powder, salt and cayenne.
Remove chickpeas from oven, sprinkle evenly with spice mix and shake to coat. Let stand so they'll continue to crisp and cool. Serve. (Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.)
AARP food expert Pam Anderson is a best-selling cookbook author and blogger at threemanycooks.com.
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