I’m one of those people that loves rosemary and thinks there are places it just belongs: potatoes, bread, Ina Garten’s toasted cashew recipe. It brings a smell before it brings a taste, becoming a double sensory delight.
Having made the Barefoot Contessa recipe for cashews numerous times, I decided to apply the same principle to roasting chickpeas. They replace croutons in my salads most days, and are easy as can be to make in a variety of different flavors. They’re also great for snacking on as-is.
I thought roasting chickpeas was one of the simplest most delightful things you could do in the kitchen, until I met the lovely Jennifer Perillo who asked, “Do you peal the skins off the chickpeas?” No! I didn’t. I have 3 minutes to devote to the task of roasting the little gems, so there is no peeling. That’s when I learned that for the crispiest, crunchiest chick peas, you have to take the skin off.
Whether or not you choose to take this extra step, I leave to you. I won’t ask; you needn’t tell. (I know what I do. And I know what I’ll do when Jennifer’s coming over).
On its own, the salad is lovely, and a nice beginner to any summer entree. Piling it on top of toasted bread transforms it from an appetizer to a substantial main course. Perfect for lunch or a light, but filling, dinner.
Good quality bread is key here. Think sturdy, too, along the lines of country bread, something that can hold the topping when you pick it up. (And not to add to your To Do List, but either one of these recipes is perfect for this recipe, or any other recipe you might be considering!) Grilling the bread adds a nice charred flavor to the tartine. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, toasting it in a cast iron skillet is a great alternative.
Pecorino-Romano cheese is what I usually have on hand, but Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano would be equally lovely. Use a cheese slicer or a vegetable peeler to shave paper-thin slices, and use as much or as little as you like, or leave it out if you want to keep this dairy-free.
One last note to share. I realize it sounds a bit fussy to peel the outer skin from the chickpeas. Trust me, it’s so worth the extra few minutes.
Okay, time to get down to the business at hand. Here’s the recipe.