In Australia, we are able to buy locally grown and produced dried chickpeas; some of which are certified organic. Be wise when you shop - read the small print on the packaging, and think about 'food miles'. The canned variety can be substituted in most recipes, although taste and texture are different. Also, as with all canned vegetables, you will be buying (and carting, and storing) a large percentage of water, often with added salt and sugar.
COUNTRY FROG TIP: Chickpeas provide protein, dietary fibre and complex carbohydrate; and contain almost no saturated fats.
CREAMY CHICKPEA, CHICKEN AND CRUSHED GREEN OLIVE SALAD
Easy to toss together, this is great to add to the smorgasbord, or eat on its own with rye bread or wholemeal flatbread. It combines the simple flavour of pan-fried or steamed chicken breast and the oomph of green olives with the contrasting textures of chickpeas and a smooth dressing. For the salad, use equal amounts of chicken, chickpeas and light sour cream; and ½ that amount of olives. For the photos I used a 1 cup recipe, and added ½ diced red onion. To allow the flavours to combine, it is best made several hours ahead, or the day before.
Very easy. Time: 5 minutes, with pre-cooked ingredients.
You will need: Cutting board and knife; large bowl for mixing.
1 large cup home-cooked cold chicken breast or thigh fillet
1 cup cold cooked chickpeas
½ cup marinated crushed green olives, oily but drained (100gm)
1 cup light sour cream or Greek-style yoghurt (» 200gm or small tub) or combination
Optional - ½ diced red salad onion
Keep a few chickpeas and olives for garnishing.
1. Cut the chicken to olive-size pieces. Roughly chop the olives. Combine the ingredients. If you wish, add fresh cracked black pepper.
Tip for serving: Line a serving bowl with lettuce leaves and tip the salad in. Because it is pale - even a touch insipid, you really need to garnish.
Alternatives instead of chicken: cold cooked potato, salt-herring, fresh cooked prawns.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE CHICKEN…
To pan fry chicken:
(quick and easy, no fuss)
Over a fast heat, pan fry fillets whole with a little oil (use the marinating oil from the olives). Turn after 5 minutes; sprinkle with a little salt, put the lid on and continue to cook (partly steaming now to keep chicken moist) for 5 minutes more or until juices run clear when chicken is cut. Particularly, don’t overcook chicken breast. Remember, it will continue to cook in residual heat once the pan is removed from the stove. Rest the chicken (don’t cut or fiddle with it) for at least 10 minutes to retain maximum juices and tenderness.
To steam a chicken in double-quick time:
Split a small chicken - about 1kg - by cutting through the length of the backbone, so when flattened both chicken breast sections will be in the centre of the bird. No need to trim fat or remove skin at this stage.
Chop an onion and few cloves of garlic; scatter across the base of a frypan (that has a tight lid); place the chicken in, bony side down, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add ½ cup water and seal tightly.
Cook 20 minutes on low heat - you need to hear the water simmering. Then turn the chicken, putting the breast and thigh into the pan juices, and cook covered for about 10 minutes more (under the thigh may still be pink). Turn off heat, leave the lid on for another 10 minutes to let the steam finish the cooking.
Peel meat from bones while the chicken is still warm. DO NOT THROW AWAY THE SKIN AND CARCASS!
Instead, put the “rubbish” back into the pan with the juices, cover with water, and simmer again for 30 minutes to make the best chicken stock.
Cool in a deep bowl to set the fat, and use next day, or freeze.
And now, back to the chickpeas… just one more quick recipe with green olives?
CHICKPEA AND GREEN OLIVE SOUP
Very easy. Serves: 4 - 6
Time: 10 minutes, with pre-cooked chickpeas (the canned version won’t work; sorry, the flavour is just not right)
You will need: Chopping board and knife; blender or stick-mixer; 2 litre saucepan.
1 cup (1½ for 6 people) cooked chickpeas
½ cup or 150 gm tub marinated crushed/split green olives, drained
1 cup clear, low-salt chicken stock and 1 cup water (or 2 cups water)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
200 gm (just under 1 cup) light sour cream
salt to taste
1. In the saucepan, cook onion and garlic in a little oil drained from olives until just transparent.
2. Add chickpeas, olives and liquid; bring to the boil.
3. Puree all together until smooth, then add the cream, and mix well. If too thick, add a little chickpea cooking water, or more stock.
4. Return to heat, stirring until soup just reaches boiling point.
5. Taste test. Add salt if needed.
Serve with crusty bread or toasted flatbread.
Town Frog says:
Loved the soup but enough with the chickpeas now. Let’s talk about curry! We’ve had great curry meals down on the farm, and I’ve always wanted to know how to make my own curry paste…