In case you missed it, I’ve been getting a little evangelical about pulses lately. I’m trying to escape the crutch of white carbs for dinner (or lunch).

I’ve covered off red kidney beans. And now it’s time to shine a light on chickpeas.

I feel a little sorry for chickpeas. If you were feeling catty, you might call them boring. Plain. Round. A little awkward in their skin.

They’re the kind of pulse that if it went to school, it might get bullied.

(And let’s be honest, the most shining example of them involves being pulverised and punched up by sesame seeds).

Man cannot live on hummous alone- I know, I’ve tried. So apart from that paste, they’re a pea that often gets overlooked.

They’re the khaki pants of the kitchen. Ploddingly useful but not real stars.  I find I turn to them when I need to bulk something out.

Sometimes I toss them into slow cooked tagines to help feed a crowd.

I’ve put them to work  with roasted garlic, tomatoes and spinach and some mackerel fillets

But I don’t often turn them into the hero.

So this is where things need to change.

This is what I’ve twigged.  This is a pulse that likes to travel. It’s got an adventurous soul. They can go Spanish, Indian, Moroccan, or Mediterranean.  All they need are some sassier friends to hold their hand and show them the way.

Which is where these four come in handy.

Lemon zest, red chilli, garlic and anchovies. Yes, anchovies. They’re key here, don’t even think about skipping them, no matter how traumatic the pizzas your parents ordered when you were a child were.

At the end of this dish you can’t taste them (The Hungry One hates them more than anything, but didn’t even notice they were there). They dissolve right down into the olive oil, leaving an impressive umami saltiness as their shadow. These four add the bells and whistles chickpeas need to shine.

It would be fine to sauté them and serve them straight like that, but to make it into a bit more of a meal I’ve added some green and texture in the form of  parsley, brocollini and almonds.

All in all It’s a great one bowl dish. Top it with a splodge of lemon juice, some yogurt, mayonnaise or aiolli, or a poached egg and it’s a perfect meal to eat while wearing functional trousers on the couch.

But if you want to make it a little more company friendly, use it as a base for grilled or roasted protein. Lamb fillets, a roast or chops play nicely, as does pan fried or barbecued white fish.

All it takes is a  few good friends and even the shyest, plainest of pulse can learn to shine.


Chickpeas, brocollini, garlic, chilli and lemon

Serves 1 hungry person as a main meal on its own, or two people with some grilled protein on the side (lamb or white fish both work very well)

1 microplane or grater. 2 fry pans (one with a lid), or 1 fry pan, 1 microwave bowl and 1 microwave.


2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lemon, 1/2 zested
Half a red chilli, diced
3 anchovy fillets (in oil, or if salted, then with the salt brushed off), finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
1 x 400 gram tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 handful flaked almonds
1 handful flat leaf parsley
140 grams (1 large handful) of broccolini steamed (broccoli florets would also work)
Optional; aiolli/ mayonnaise or yogurt to drizzle over the top

Here’s how we roll

1. Place the olive oil in a wide fry pan and heat over medium until it shimmers lightly. Add the zest of half the lemon, chilli and diced anchovies and allow them to steep in the warm oil for 3 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, almonds and the other half of the lemon to the chilli, anchovy and lemon oil. Stir to soften the garlic and encourage the anchovies to break down.

3. Turn the heat up to high and add the chickpeas and half of the parsley. Fry until the chickpeas are warm and coated in the oil.

4. Combine the chickpeas and the rest of the contents of that pan with the lemon cooked broccolini. Squeeze the pan-burnished lemon half over the top and add the remainder of the fresh parsley.

5. Eat on its own, or with a poached or fried egg, a piece of grilled fish fillet or lamb.