Lebanese pizza(ish)

On my list of things to cook has been a series of what we shall call “chickpea and egg on toasts.”

Exhibit A: Ottolenghi’s slow-cooked chickpeas on toast with poached eggs. I asked for Plenty More for Christmas not because I think I could actually pull off anything in his cookbooks, let alone find the ingredients, but because looking at the pictures feels like taking an exotic vacation.

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But when I landed on said chickpea recipe I thought, “Here’s something I could actually make!” The spice ingredients are more or less pantry staples–cayenne pepper, paprika–and the rest cost under $10 all together.

There are just two issues…1) the chickpeas have to soak overnight, so you need to plan in advance. And 2) the next day the whole thing has to cook for 4 hours. Yes, yes, I realize this is what “slow-cooked” means but usually we’re talking about a roast that you can set to cook before going to work, and come home to find perfectly done. 4 hours, on the other hand, is a pretty awkward chunk of time for a weeknight.

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The time issue plus the fact that it’s become spring overnight led me to table this particular conquest and instead try the indomitable Deb’s smashed chickpea salad. It’s essentially hummus with some crunch, served cold, and with cheap ingredients and minimal prep time lends itself well to a weeknight meal.

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I just changed a few (hundred) things. Deb serves it on sandwich bread; I served it on a pita, atop a pile of arugla dressed lightly in lemon juice and olive oil. (Confession: I planned to put it inside the pita but bought one of those frustrating brands where it cracks and becomes unusable when you try to open it. Grr.) She suggests crushing the chickpeas with a fork; I wanted something a little more hummusy so used the pestle from my lovely Le Creuset mortar and pestle set.

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I also added za’atar. I love love LOVE za’atar. I love it on hummus, I love it baked on pita chips, I love it in a simple vinaigrette. And it was the perfect addition to this already Mediterranean salad. Lastly, I topped it with a poached egg because #yolkporn.

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All in, it more closely resembled a Lebanese pizza than Deb’s salad sandwich, but I loved it just the same if not more.

(Also, I doubled it to have leftovers for lunch. You don’t need to do that unless you want to have chickpeas on chickpeas on chickpeas).

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Lebanese Pizza / Smashed Chickpea Salad
(inspired by Smitten Kitchen, inspired by ‘Wichcraft)

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons pitted, halved and very thinly sliced black olives
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped (or cut with kitchen scissors) fresh parsley, or more
Zest and juice from half a lemon, use the other half below
Couple good pinches of salt
A few grinds of black pepper
½ to 1 tablespoon Lebanese za’atar
A few glugs (Deb’s term, not mine but I like it) of olive oil

For serving:
1 cup arugula
½ lemon
Olive oil
1 poached egg (instructions for poaching here)
Sprinkle of Lebanese za’atar

Mix everything but the olive oil in a small to midsize bowl. Very lightly (or not very lightly) smash the chickpea mixture with the back of a fork, potato masher or pestle. Add the glugs of olive oil and mix it lightly.

Toss the arugula in olive oil, a few squeezes of lemon juice and a little salt and pepper. Pile it on top of the pita. Spoon chickpea salad on top. Place the poached egg in the center, sprinkle on the za’atar, and serve with remaining lemon half. Enjoy!

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Smashed chickpea salad: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/01/smashed-chickpea-salad/

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