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In the season of excessive, over-the-top, through-the-roof, multi-tiered, multi-cheesed, multi-boozed everything, a dinner of simply-cooked chickpeas and Brussels sprouts can feel ho-hum—austere, even.
But its plainness is a relief, like one blank wall in a room full of gallery-style photographs, like a neutral color palette after the neon red-and-green that is Christmas.
Here, no ingredient gets lost or feels superfluous. And even though you can taste each component as essential to the whole, since there are no excessive spices or mix-ins, you have the opportunity to add and experiment as the week goes on.
A few notes on the recipe:
- For optimal flavor and texture, cook the chickpeas from dried beans (don't forget that they'll need to soak for 6 to 8 hours). Or check in with the reality of your life at the moment and use two 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, rinse, washed, and dried instead.
- Consider leaving out the sherry if you're going to be serving the sprouts and peas to kids—since it's added at the very end, it doesn't cook off.
- If you're not a meat-eater, swap out the chicken stock for vegetable.
Make a big batch of these at the beginning of the week, cooking more chickpeas than you need (or stocking up on cans) and doubling down on Brussels sprouts, too:
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
On night one, eat it as is, or mix with some salty cheese, a hard-boiled egg, chopped walnuts, and farro. Then run with it!
- (Kinda sorta) rice salad. Fold the Brussels sprouts and chickpeas into cooked brown or white rice or rice noodles, then season with a fish sauce vinaigrette. Top with shrimp sautéed in garlicky oil flavored with chile flakes.
- Cheesy pasta. Take a cue from this Creamy Bucatini with Seared Brussels Sprouts: Rewarm the sprouts and chickpeas in a big skillet with a little butter or olive oil as you boil pasta (rigatoni would be nice for catching the chickpeas) in a pot next door. When the pasta is al dente, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to the skillet. Add grated pecorino or Parmesan and a splash or two of the pasta cooking water and stir until the cheese melts. Then turn off the heat, stir in an egg (you want it to enrich the sauce, not to scramble), and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and more cheese confetti.
- Chicken and chickpea salad. Roast a chicken (or pick one up from the store), shred it, and rewarm the meat on the stove. Mix in the brussels sprouts and chickpeas and a dressing that will bring everything together (something fresh but creamy, like green goddess or turmeric-tahini, would be good). Add in some chopped nuts or fried onions for crunch.
- Sheet pan eggs. Scatter 'sprouts and 'peas across the baking sheet before it goes into the oven. Add cheese if you'd like. Cut the field of eggs into squares and stack a couple in a soft sandwich bun with a squirt of hot sauce.
- Brussels sprouts and chickpeas, meet Chickpeas and Spinach. Fry breadcrumbs in olive oil, then add spices and herbs of your liking—garlic, cumin, oregano, and chile, for example. Mash in a mortar or pestle, or with a knife, then return to the pan, add the chickpeas and Brussels sprouts and a splash of water, stock, or sherry, and a couple handfuls of spinach.
- Soup topper. Float any last leftovers atop a soup that needs a little oomph to truly qualify as dinner (we're thinking creamy chickpea soup, cauliflower soup, or green soup).
And with the extra cooked chickpeas...
And with the extra Brussels sprouts...
How do you keep your cooking simple during the out-of-control holiday excess? Tell us in the comments below.