My cooking journey started when I lived in Italy. I had just become a vegetarian, and I learned to like a long list of foods I had previously thought I hated, almost overnight. The list included eggplant, onions, most peppers, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, and most beans. I definitely would have turned my nose up to chickpeas.
But my broader vision allowed me to consider may things I would have scorned previously. Hummus, guacamole, all things that I went without until I was nearly twenty years old. It is funny to see the arcs and valleys with one’s relationship with food when we look back over our lives. As a child and high-schooler, I loved to eat. My mother was a marvelous cook! I ate constantly. And a lot of my favorite food was absolutely terrible for me. I’d come home from Friday nights with friends and eat an entire box of shells and cheese as a midnight snack. Food was a comfort for me, a daily indulgence, a numbing tool. When I was eighteen, I started to care about the nutrients my body was taking in. I became a vegetarian on impulse in Italy, not for ethical reasons, but because it seemed like a good idea. My friend and roommate, Elyse, was a vegetarian, and meat was expensive and different in some ways over there. The vegetarianism stuck for six years. I lost a lot of weight in that time and discovered how good it felt to eat meals based around veggies and grain.
When I started eating meat again, I was really starting to hit my cooking stride. I was capable of making beautiful, healthy meals for my husband and I and our friends. At the same time, I would make meals that involved sticks of butter. Colorless plates inhabited by only potatoes and pork chops. I put on quite a bit of weight when I encountered the transitions of life and challenges of my mid to late twenties. This past fall, I started a clean eating challenge called the 21-day fix. In it, my food was portioned out and I had to eat a lot more fruits and veggies. My food had to be nutrient dense. I couldn’t have meals made up of sugar and carbs only. I had to fill color-coded containers with food in order to eat enough and in the right portions and ratios. Vegetables came back on the scene with a vengeance, and I had almost forgotten how amazing and versatile they are.
Roasted chickpeas came onto my radar in this time as a healthy snack. When I got home for Christmas, I found several jars in my Mom’s pantry. They were delicious! So, I decided to try making my own version with an Italian twist!
Chickpeas roasted in fig balsamic syrup with rosemary and garlic
Makes 2 cups
- 2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and dried
- 2 tbsp fig balsamic syrup (this is a specialty item; if you can’t find it, balsamic vinegar will do just fine, but might not have as complex or sweet a flavor. If you have a specialty oil and vinegar store near you, see if you can get your hands on some fig-flavored balsamic vinegar. This is basically just fig flavored vinegar that has been reduced to a syrup.)
- 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- juice of one lemon
- 1/2-1 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss chickpeas with oil, syrup, spices, lemon juice, garlic, and rosemary. Put on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes for somewhat crispy or 50-60 minutes for extremely crispy. Check every 15 minutes, and toss. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
These are SO good! If you’re a 21-day fixer, I count these as a yellow container and a teaspoon. Though they could probably also be considered a blue container? If there are any fixers out there, how do you think you’d classify this?
Happy Friday, dear friends!