Sometimes the best dishes don’t come from recipes. They come from just playing in the kitchen, taking chances and trying new ways to make meals as tasty as the foods that star in them.
Note: I ate about 3 or 5 slices of this two-bite appetizer before I could tear myself away from the plate. Caution advised.
I think of smashed chickpeas fondly as “lazy man’s hummus” or “rustic bean dip”. They’re just broken up chickpeas with some spices, salt, maybe some tahini or olive oil. As simple as they are, the texture contrast of the smooth purée with somewhat chunkier pieces wins me over every time!
No matter what spices or other flavourings you add, salt is a must. Many people, myself included, habitually “undersalt” bean dips and similar. But salt plays a key role as it acts to enhance all the flavours in a dish. It’s very important in simple dishes like these and it just gives everything oomph.
So add some salt, taste, add more if necessary, taste again. I like to put the smashed chickpeas in the fridge to let the flavours marry and then taste again just before serving.
To me, salting food properly is the difference between putting on a black dress, heels, make-up, your favourite jewels… and putting on a black dress and sneakers. Salt is that important.
To smash the chickpeas, you can use a fork or a potato masher. You can also cheat like me and throw everything into a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times or until you like the consistency. I find this makes my smashed chickpea spreads extra creamy with small bits of fabulous chickpea interwoven throughout.
Roasting tomatoes concentrates all the lovely flavour inside their papery shells. I used cherry tomatoes from my garden that I froze last season and the sweetness was super concentrated. I roast them until they collapse, release all their juices and become sticky.
From a practical (aka nutritional) perspective, avocados are just plain healthy for so many reasons. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: healthy fat doesn’t make us fat and is a critical part of a healthy brain. Our brains rely on fat for fuel and to function and in fact, are about 60% fat!
Say that 3 times fast.
Monounsaturated fat like the kind in avocados has even been inversely associated with a risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. From a culinary perspective, avocados are just so creamy and delicious. I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to make them part of your everyday diet!
Smashed Chickpeas with Roasted Tomatoes & Avocado on Toast
Keep in mind these are rough measurements. I didn’t measure anything so I’m just guessing… feel free to adjust!
- Roast about 2-3 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes. Mine took about 25 minutes at 350 F but you can also roast tomatoes on a lower temp for longer. I don’t really pay attention; I just check on them every once in a while to make sure they don’t burn. I also can’t recommend lining your trays with parchment paper enough: tomato juices get sticky and burn very easily. I always use parchment paper and/or make a little parchment bag to roast the tomatoes in (‘en papillote’).
- While the tomatoes roast, make the smashed chickpea spread. You can mash the chickpeas with a fork, potato masher or food processor. I used about 1 cup cooked chickpeas, a generous pinch or three of ground cumin, a fat dollop of tahini (ground sesame paste), a drizzle of high quality olive oil (though not necessary – you can also use a bit of water), the juice of half a lemon, freshly cracked pepper and sea salt.
- Toast some bread or replace with crackers or whatever else you like. For toasted baguette slices, I used the broil option (500 F) on my oven for 1-2 minutes.
- Peel and slice an avocado. My pieces were very large because I LOVE AVOCADO but you can make them smaller if you aren’t madly in love with them like I am!
- Eat a few as a snack. Enjoy with a salad of some kind for lunch. The smashed chickpeas are also terrific as a dip for raw vegetables.
This might be my favourite afternoon snack lately. What’s yours?
Life is a plate… Eat up!