Big Little Recipes

This Gooey-Cheesy Chickpea Bowl Is Me at My Laziest

November 17, 2020

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer—not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. This week, we’re turning a can of chickpeas into dinner.


There are many ways to make mac and cheese, from baked to stovetop to box, but it’s safe to say that all of these, despite their differences, include mac, aka macaroni, aka tubular noodles. This Big Little Recipe does not.

It starts with a step that, somehow, is even easier than pouring a box of pasta into salty boiling water: opening a can of chickpeas.

You don’t have to worry about undercooking or overcooking because they’re already cooked. You don’t have to worry about underseasoning or overseasoning because they’re already seasoned.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“My apologies that this comment is more negative than our usual cooperative Food52 discourse, but I don't appreciate the idea that the cuteness of a food impairs one's ability to enjoy cooking it. We can respect the food we eat and be lighthearted at the same time.”
— Camille
Comment

Like macaroni, chickpeas are starchy, chewy, cute (!), and eager to dive in to a melty, gooey cheese sauce. Who are we to stand in their way?

Though I’m an admirer of baked mac and cheese—see this iconic Martha Stewart recipe, with its Mornay sauce and buttered bread crumbs and, I can’t stress this enough, over one and a half pounds of cheese—it’s not the sort of thing I’m whipping up on a Tuesday night.

Photo by Ty Mecham. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

Stovetop mac and cheese, on the other hand, couldn’t be simpler. While some versions, like this one from Serious Eats, call in evaporated milk, I’m a fervent follower of Melissa Clark’s Genius strategy: just heat heavy cream until bubbling, stir in grated cheddar, and, um, you’re done. Think of it like instant fondue.

This is when you’d add your boiled noodles or, in our case, canned beans. Naturally, chickpeas in cheddar sauce (chick ‘n’ cheese? no?) is the sort of meal that invites a couch and blanket and episode of The Bachelorette (I know, I know, let’s chat in the comments). Yet things get even more comforting if you throw in an extra step—it’s a quick one, promise:

Instead of macaroni-ifying all the chickpeas, reserve a handful, give them a rough chop, and toss into sizzling oil. In the time it’ll take to listen to “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” the chickpeas transform from tender to crackly—like panko or those itty bits at the bottom of a bag of potato chips. Crumble on top and crack open a really cold beer.

What's your go-to way to turn a can of chickpeas into dinner? Share ideas in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • kvd
    kvd
  • HillJ
    HillJ
  • Fred Rickson
    Fred Rickson
  • Camille
    Camille
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

5 Comments

kvd November 19, 2020
I just tried the cheese sauce with roasted Brussel sprouts and some leftover baked chicken which I cut up into bite-size pieces. Delish...And, on another note, I DO appreciate when chickpeas are called cute!
 
HillJ November 17, 2020
I have used this method with cauliflower, asparagus tips and lima beans. Quick and delicious when you want a lighter cheesy bite.
 
Fred R. November 17, 2020
Well, I stopped reading when you called chickpeas “cute.” I enjoy cooking too much to go any further.
 
Camille November 17, 2020
My apologies that this comment is more negative than our usual cooperative Food52 discourse, but I don't appreciate the idea that the cuteness of a food impairs one's ability to enjoy cooking it. We can respect the food we eat and be lighthearted at the same time.
 
kvd November 19, 2020
Stop with the cooking pretentiousness.