And the liquid from canned varieties, called aquafava, has become a vegan miracle for many. Salsas, salads, soups, you name it–beans usually have a place. So it was no surprise when I began to think about one of my favorites–chickpeas–and all the ways we use them at Marley Spoon. The inspiration for my recent chickpea obsession was born at Manhattan's Chelsea Market on a recent, quiet Monday, within a swirl of the most perfect, unctuous hummus.
But to be fair, this wasn't just any hummus, not just any store-bought, mechanically processed concoction still a little cold from hours (and probably even days) of refrigeration. This hummus was from Dizengoff, the first (and brand new) NYC outpost of wildly popular Philadelphia chef and restaurateur team Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook. This branch operates under the leadership of Chef Emily Seaman, a masterful ballet of staff working together, whose service and execution is as smooth as the hummus itself. Solomonov and Cook are the masterminds behind Philly favorites Federal Donuts, Percy Street Barbecue, Abe Fisher, and Zahav. Zahav the restaurant is arguably their most well-known, a celebration of authentic Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients on which Solomonov was raised. And Zahav the cookbook, Solomonov's first, won the James Beard Award for Book of the Year this past spring.
Given these credentials, it should go without saying that Dizengoff's hummus, without frills or gimmicks, is perfect. But I'll say it anyway: Dizengoff's hummus is perfect. Creamy and slightly tangy, it is only improved by the coal-fired pita that accompanies it. Before I ordered, my pita was a calm, sleepy ball of dough–I could see it, looking at me, already having accepted its fate, waiting to be thrown into the fiery mouth of a monstrous oven. Once cooked, the pita is black in some parts and delicious all over, with the perfect amount of chew. And the best part of all: at the time it’s in my hands, it’s still warm.
Sanaë Lemoine, our assistant culinary editor, had an equally wonderful experience when she recently visited the original Dizengoff in Philadelphia.
“I think chickpeas are truly magical, especially when they’re blended they take on a whole new creamy life,” she says. “And the combination of nutty tahini (ground sesame seeds) and chickpeas is divine, right? I mean, that hummus is one of the creamiest and softest things you’ll eat, making it such a great foundation for toppings and dipping bread.”
All variations, whether plain tehina or lamb or even avocado peanut, are served with a cool chopped salad of crunchy cucumbers and pickled red onion, which provides the perfect amount of contrasting texture and tang. After enjoying something so delicious that's comprised of virtually two ingredients (chickpeas and tahini), you can't help but feel grateful one of those two superstars is almost always in your pantry.
Dizengoff in Chelsea Market is many, many miles from Israel, but they've brought the delight of chickpeas to Americans, proving that hummus is truly where the heart is. In celebration of our favorite can of beans (don’t fret if you’re not up for a night of soaking and an hour of simmering), we’ve put together a list of our most-loved chickpea recipes below!
roasted chickpeas & tomatoes with garlicky grits Spiced chickpeas roast in the oven until warmed and just a little crisp on the outside. Shallots soften and cherry tomatoes burst alongside. This savory-sweet topping gets spooned onto creamy grits spiked with a little grated garlic. Don’t skimp on the olive oil at the end—a drizzle is all you need to enhance the flavors of an already top-notch vegetarian meal.
roasted sweet potatoes & spiced chickpeas with tahini dressing, pomegranate seeds and dill We’ve roasted sweet potatoes until soft enough to spoon. These are the perfect base for dark red pomegranate seeds (so crunchy and sweet!), crisped up chickpeas dusted with plenty of spices, and feathery dill.
homemade hummus platter with halloumi & cumin vegetables This vegetarian platter combines a few of our favorite ingredients. Sautéed red kale, smooth-as-velvet hummus, warm chickpeas and salty halloumi cheese. Halloumi has a higher melting-point than most cheeses, meaning it holds its shape while turning a deep golden when seared in a hot pan. We sprinkled peppadew peppers on top, a slightly sweet and mild cherry pepper originally from South Africa.
celery, fennel & quinoa salad with fried chickpeas, almonds and feta This started as a crunchy side-salad with strips of fennel and celery. Then we added red quinoa, feta and chickpeas, and voila! Dinner was served. We crisped chickpeas in oil and dusted them with cumin. We wanted to use all of the fennel this time, including fronds – the feathery top – for a hint of green and anise.
broiled chicken and artichokes with chickpea couscous Broiling is one of our favorite quick cooking techniques to get delicious meals in the least amount of time. Direct high heat will give your meat and vegetables a golden caramelized surface, enhancing the flavor of each ingredient. Here we broiled chicken with artichokes until crisp and served them over a garlicky chickpea couscous. A lemon dressing drizzled at the very end provides an extra layer of brightness.
chickpea pancake & mushrooms with parsley-pecan pesto We’ve been seeing lots of variations on cecina, a Tuscan-style chickpea flour pancake, on restaurant menus lately. Sometimes called farinata, it’s a super easy-to-make base for your favorite vegetarian toppings. We roasted mushrooms in a foil pouch (bonus: quick cleanup!) to keep them tender and juicy and made a rough pesto with parsley and deeply roasted pecans.
(Dizengoff images: Laura Manzano)