Chickpeas and Cherry Tomatoes


It’s funny how ideas can come from places we, at first, wouldn’t think likely. Like in the line at the ATM (always a good few long minutes there!), or while looking at old family photos (we need to go on holidays more often), or from scrounging through the leftovers in the fridge (so many great meals come by way of this, highly scientific, method, believe you me…).

And it was during one such leftover incursion that I discovered this dish.

It was after a shoot with Yummy magazine, which always leaves us with surplus of goodies in our fridge. Amongst the mess that is my refrigerator, I found the cumin-scented Mexican-style chickpeas from the Mexican Style Baked Sweet Potatoes (January issue this year) and leftover cherry tomatoes from the Shrimp & Cherry Tomato Sauté (April issue…the shrimps were long gone!). In the interest of cleaning out the fridge (although it helped that I love both chickpeas and cherry tomatoes) I tossed both together and the beginnings of this dish were born.

I was so happy with my resulting meal, cobbled together from these odd meal-stragglers, that I told myself I would patch together a recipe and share it here. This would make a great side dish for meat, poultry, or seafood. On its own however, thanks to the chickpeas, it already makes for a tasty bit of sustenance.

This is, to the best of my knowledge, a completely vegetarian dish. Probably vegan – although I cannot speak for it being vegan as I am almost always wondering if there are any hidden animal by-products in ingredients I use so let’s keep it at vegetarian.

I’ve mentioned before, that despite being a complete omnivore, and loving meat immensely, I have, in fact, a closet vegetarian. I love all food, and that definitely includes vegetables. So it is absolutely normal, despite my devotion to chicharon and bacon, that I will make veggie dishes every do often, and think nothing of it. And this particular one pleased me so much (not in the least because I was also able to clean my fridge out a bit in the process) that I’ve made a couple of spin-off dishes with it. All vegetarian (though not vegan as yogurt and cheese and yogurt are involved).

But first, the main recipe…

Chickpeas and Cherry Tomatoes

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced in half moons
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 400-gram can chickpeas, drained
  • 250 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: water

– Place a skillet over medium high heat. Add a couple of generous glugs of olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onions. Sauté and stir until the onion are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant but not toasted.
– Add the chickpeas and toss in the onion-y oil. Sauté for a couple of minutes then add the cherry tomatoes and stir through. Add the cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to the pan and mix so the seasonings are distributed evenly.
– Sauté everything, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are slightly slumped and wilted but still holding their shape. This shouldn’t take long at all.
– If the pan is looking too dry stir through some water.  It should be moist, but not saucy.
– Remove from the heat and enjoy!

As mentioned above you can have this as a side dish or on its own. It’s already got protein, thanks to the chickpeas, and if you’d like to add some green leafies towards the end of cooking (like spinach) you can do that too. I’ve used cumin and paprika to flavor it, as the original chickpeas were flavored, but you can change that up as well using your favorite spices (I think this would also be awesome with some garam masala!).

I wanted to give you an idea how versatile this dish is by showing you a few, totally vegetarian, ways you can serve it (hello vegetarian friends!).

You can serve simply atop a bowl of your chosen grain. I had it here with adlai but you can have it with any sort of rice, barley, quinoa, or a combination thereof. You can also do this with couscous or pasta. A few shakes of hot sauce would not go amiss here.

You can also take the “grain bowl” idea and run with it, adding other elements to make it a hearty, and super tasty, meal. Here I take the adlai bowl and add guacamole, herby-garlic yogurt, chipotle Tabasco, cilantro, green onions, and a squeeze of lime. You won’t even miss the meat – and this is coming from a carnivore so you know it’s true.

You can also pile it onto a round of pita bread and add some greens (here with wild arugula and cilantro), crumbled bits of white cheese (kesong puti, feta, chèvre would all do nicely), and some chili flakes. You could do the same on a tortilla as well, and roll it up before eating.

I love finding new ways to utilize, and actually enjoy, leftovers. You could even say it is a bit of a pet project of mine. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see my attempts with the hashtag #fightfoodwaste. As I’ve said many times before, your next great meal could be already waiting in your fridge!

And, in that same line, your next great idea could likewise be hiding in the most unlikely of places…or, perhaps, even in plain sight.

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