This is the chickpea puree Corrado Assenza prepared as an appetizer during his US tour this past spring. To start, he soaks Bio Alberti chickpeas in water for a full 24 hours. Then, he gently simmers them before allowing them to cool completely in their own cooking water. Finally, he blends the chickpeas with tomato concentrate, extra virgin olive oil, and some of the cooking water. This process creates a luscious puree somewhere between a dip and a soup, highlighting the earthy flavor of Umbrian chickpeas. While the entire process takes a day or so, the actual hands-on work is minimal. You’ll need a strong blender to achieve a super silky smooth texture, but did a little rustic chunkiness ever hurt anyone?
Traditionally, Sicilians serve this puree warm or at room temperature with bitter vegetables such as broccoli rabe, spinach, kale, or other leafy greens. Here we’re using baby cauliflower, but when Corrado came to visit us in New York in early March he used braised swiss chard. It’s hard to go wrong! Use whatever is fresh. This puree also freezes well for up to three months.
TIME: 45 mins + soaking and cooling time
- Dried chickpeas, 500g / 1.1 lbs
- Aromatic alliums such as the whites and light green parts of a leek, a few spring onions, or a handful of wild garlic, 100g / 3.5 oz
- Tomato Concentrate, 1-2 tsp
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 120 ml / 1/2 cup, or more to taste
- Fine Sea Salt, to taste
- Seasonal vegetables, bread, and flaky salt, to serve.
- Soak the chickpeas in ample fresh water for 24 hours. Discard the soaking water and rinse the chickpeas.
- Along with your chosen allium(s), place the soaked, drained, and rinsed chickpeas in a large pot with about double their volume of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until cooked through, 90 minutes to 2 hours.
- If your schedule permits, allow them to cool completely in their cooking water. Strain the chickpeas and allium(s) and transfer everything to a blender, reserving their cooking water (aquafaba).
- Dilute the tomato concentrate with a few tablespoons of aquafaba and add to the blender along with a splash of extra virgin olive oil. Blend, gradually adding more aquafaba and olive oil, until the puree is smooth, about 10 minutes. Taste and add more tomato concentrate if you wish. We used about 2 cups of aquafaba and 1/2 cup of olive oil in total, but add as much or as little as you prefer. Taste and season with salt. You can choose to serve the puree warm or at room temperature. Keep in mind you may need to loosen the mixture with additional oil and aquafaba if you reheat it later on.
- To serve, top a dollop of chickpea puree with your chosen seasonal vegetable, prepared as you see fit. We roasted baby cauliflower in a hot oven for 20 minutes. Corrado used braised chard when he came to visit us in March. Drizzle with additional extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.