Weeknight Cooking

Olive Oil–Braised Chickpeas From Joy the Baker

May 19, 2021
4.6 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

My canned chickpea dinner once followed a predictable path: Open can, drain and rinse chickpeas, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil, add the beans, stir around till warm, eat. (Then look around the kitchen for something else.)

But Joy the Baker figured out how to take a similar route and end up at a much, much better destination. Canned chickpeas don't want a quick stir-around: All they need for a bit of rejuvenation is a warm bath in olive oil, herbs, and spices.

Forty-five minutes in a covered pan in the oven and they're fattened up and flavored to the core, without any of the original chalky-hardness. The briny ingredients (capers in Joy's original recipe, with the addition of cured olives here) soften into the oil before whole baking dish is topped with cheese and smoked paprika, tying all of the salty-spiciness together.

I want to eat these chickpeas for dinner every night and, since there are one zillion ways they could go (I've counted!), it's tremendously hard to get bored of them.

First Consider The Making:

Once you've got the basics down—chickpeas + oil + things salty, fresh, and acidic—there's plenty of room to wiggle within that formula:

- Skip the capers and go solely with olives, trying the milder Castelvetrano in place of the black and oil-cured.
- Throw in half a lemon instead of the dainty slices, then squeeze its juices over the warm beans.
- Add a splash of vinegar—red, sherry, white, Champagne, apple cider, or Datu Puti, even!—and a couple of tablespoons of chopped preserved lemon.
- Replace the thyme with rosemary or sage; the feta with goat or ricotta; the smoked paprika with cumin.

Or pick a region of the world to provide some guidance:

- Add mustard and cumin seeds, crushed coriander, a pinch of curry powder, crumbled dried red chile, and forgo the thyme for curry leaves, fresh or dried (Indian-ish).
- Or go with cinnamon, ground ginger, cumin, chile flakes, golden raisins, and a spoonful of harissa (Moroccan-ish).
- Or lean more heavily towards the Mediterranean: Melt down an anchovy with olive oil before you sauté the onion; supplement the thyme with marjoram and oregano and the capers with sun-dried tomatoes.

Then add any vegetable you'd braise in oil: coarsely chopped broccoli rabe, cauliflower or broccoli florets, strips of red bell pepper, carrots sliced on the bias.

As much as you play, stick with chickpeas if you're looking for a forkable texture: White beans and black beans, already spineless from the can, might turn into a mushy stew.

....And Then Address The Eating:

It's natural that you'll want to spoon the chickpeas and their warm oil over absorbent bread—or hummus, or baba ghanoush, or a mound of Greek yogurt. But you can also mix the chickpeas with cubes of that bread, then add bitter greens for a salad of sorts. Or add in shredded roasted chicken and spoonfuls of yogurt.

Or stir the chickpeas into a pot of couscous, or quinoa, or wild rice—there's no extra dressing needed, and you can add volume with hearty greens, fresh herbs, vegetables you roasted while the chickpeas cooked, and toasted nuts. A nearly instant grain salad! Ali Slagle has been known to mix Joy the Baker's chickpeas with Joan's on Third's Curried Chickpeas—a meeting of two chickpeas.

Add them into a shakshuka before you crack in the eggs, or to any tomato sauce, for that matter. Mash the oven-soft chickpeas slightly and eat with pita as a warm dip.

Or collect the extra oil to marinate fish, to start a vinaigrette, to dress a salad, to be the base of a mayonnaise, to coat vegetables pre-roast. Or, you know, just make the recipe as written, spoon it into a bowl, and do the whole thing again tomorrow night...

This recipe comes by way of blogger extraordinaire and cookbook author Joy the Baker. We made a few small tweaks, like adding lemon wheels and chile flakes. —Sarah Jampel

  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion (red is good, too!)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • Big pinches sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (rosemary is good, too! same with sage)
  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 1/4 cup cured black olives, pitted and torn (and/or another olive you love, like Castelvetrano)
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced into thin wheels
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (ricotta cheese is also highly recommended)
  • Smoky paprika, for serving
  • Crusty bread, for serving
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 375° F.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, add a splash of the olive oil. When it's hot, add the onions and sauté until softening and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and scrape into a baking dish: Use an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 if you want softer chickpeas and a 9 x 13 if you'd prefer some get a tad bit crispy on the bottom.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil, chickpeas, capers, salt, pepper, thyme, chile flakes, olives, and lemon slices to the dish, then stir to combine. Cover tightly with foil and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and the chickpeas are soft.
  4. Remove the foil, add the crumbled feta and paprika, and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving with (or on top of) bread.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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69 Reviews

Jo A. August 14, 2021
One of the easiest and most delicious recipes I’ve ever been lucky enough to stumble upon. I make these about once a week and never tire of them. The combination of flavors is sheer genius! Between thyme and rosemary, rosemary is my favorite; and between feta and ricotta, nothing beats the sharpness and saltiness of the feta. Do NOT be afraid of the olive oil! Half of the joy of this dish is dipping a hunk of crusty bread into that heavenly flavored oil at the bottom of the dish. My grandmother was from Sicily and she would have given this dish two thumbs up!!
 
bmorecharmer August 1, 2021
I love these. They have quickly become a staple in our house as a substitute for a starch side. I omit the salt since the capers, olives, and feta are salty enough on their own.
 
Sandy M. May 6, 2021
Absolutely one of my favorites! I use diced/pitted kalamata olives in place of black olives, up the amount of capers and use a bit less than 1/4 cup oil just out of personal preference. Also one whole thinly sliced lemon to top before covering and baking. This is a really great versatile recipe that can be slightly tweaked to one’s preference and/or additional ingredients added as you please.
 
Kelly April 26, 2021
Love this! Over time I’ve upped the lemon and onion to one whole each and olives to 1/3 cup. We like to have with a fried egg and crusty bread. Excellent dinner and the kind of leftovers that make you look forward to lunchtime (opposite of sad desk lunch)!
 
Rachel February 19, 2021
How long does this dish last in the fridge?
 
eluu February 19, 2021
I'm ashamed to admit that I made a nice, chunky batch of these and had them as leftovers for up to a week.....!
 
Rachel February 19, 2021
Ahhh I threw them away this morning. I really didn’t want to....but they were a week old.
 
Galleta January 23, 2021
Made this the other day and it was gone by dinner time. All my favorite things!!
 
Eileenmac January 18, 2021
I wanted to love this dish. But 3/4 cup oil didn’t add value to the canned chickpeas. Seems like a lot of oil and time for something I could’ve tossed in 1/4 c oil and beans for quick dish where braising wasn’t needed. What am I missing? It tasted good but not could’ve arrived there quicker and leaner.
 
Jacque January 18, 2021
I've never used the full 3/4 cup of oil - less if I'm eating it as is, a bit more if I'm mixing it with veg or grain. I took the advise of another commenter and make mine in a cast iron skillet, which makes this one-pot and helps the chickpeas crisp around the edges of the pan. One of my winter staples!
 
Barbara L. January 17, 2021
So, so good - great with simple roasted chicken and vegetables - fantastic flavor but also very comforting.
 
eluu August 30, 2020
What a great, adaptable recipe! I made this alongside my roast chicken which really makes for a simple, hearty, healthy, and especially tasty dinner (with leftovers!). I can imagine that throwing a fried egg on top of this for a lunch would make leftovers that much more exciting.
 
emanne August 1, 2020
I can’t eat dairy so I skip the feta but add marinated artichokes which go well. This time I sautéd a little zucchini and mushrooms I had with the onions and that worked well too. Very flexible and adaptable to what’s in the pantry.
 
Noidea6 July 13, 2020
This was easy and quick to prepare and quite delicious. Used it as main dish, but it would make an excellent side dish as well. I’d reduce the amount of red pepper flakes a bit the next time I made it. Also, good olive oil definitely enhances the taste and character.
 
Deanna July 7, 2020
This is my current food obsession. It's salty and spicy, with a beautifully soft texture. So easy to throw together, then pop in the oven to finish-up. It can be served as a main with a raw side salad. Adding simply-prepared poultry or fish makes for an extra delicious protein boost.
 
wasabit94 June 29, 2020
I'll admit I had my doubts about this, but I was wrong. Not only was it delicious, but it was real simple to put together. I threw this in the oven along with a lamb shank braise I was making, which meant I cooked it at a lower temp for longer (325 F for 1 1/2 hours). This with lamb, tabouli, and rice made for a pretty easy Sunday night dinner. I'm still thinking about it and dinner was over 12 hours ago.
 
wasabit94 June 29, 2020
I'll admit I had my doubts about this, but I was wrong. Not only was it delicious, but it was real simple to put together. I threw this in the oven along with a lamb shank braise I was making, which meant I cooked it at a lower temp for longer (325 F for 1 1/2 hours). This with lamb, tabouli, and rice made for a pretty easy Sunday night dinner. I'm still thinking about it and dinner was over 12 hours ago.
 
Marciarelyea June 23, 2020
This is the best new recipe I have made. I could stand at my kitchen counter and eat the whole thing standing up. And, I’m usually not a fan of chick peas!
 
Bogle G. June 22, 2020
OMG 😱 this was literally the best thing I have ever tasted😆!!! It really complements itself, all the flavors go together perfectly in your mouth. It pops with so much flavors that are all good.
 
Bogle G. June 22, 2020
OMG 😱 this was literally the best thing I have ever tasted!!! It really complements itself, all the flavors go together perfectly in your mouth. It pops with so much flavors that are all good.
 
Catherine J. January 10, 2020
Delicious! Served it over farro.
 
Jacque March 10, 2019
Just did a riff on this to use that orange that was slightly past perfect and the last handful of black mission figs from TJ's. Threw in some middle eastern spices (turmeric, nutmeg) and enjoyed the result - comfort in a bowl. Don't be afraid to use this recipe as a jumping off point.
 
The R. February 21, 2019
So so so good! I've made this in a million variations, with lots of pepper, with gouda instead of feta, with kale added, with carrots and ras el hanout, with cajun seasoning...it's basically a weekly rotation and we never get tired of it.