This traditional baked chickpeas recipe is naturally vegan and gluten-free, plus it’s the tastiest method for preparing chickpeas!
These Greek traditional baked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are ideal for a healthy dinner, naturally vegan and gluten-free! The recipe is very simple, with just a few ingredients and LOTS of flavor. Plus, you can feed many people without spending a fortune. All of the above are some of the characteristics of traditional Mediterranean cuisine which consists of many dishes of the same philosophy like this Mediterranean vegetable orzotto with marinated cheese cubes or this Tuscan style white beans. The only downside of this recipe is the long baking time. But then again, I just put it in the oven and forget about it for 4 hours, so I don’t complain!
Sifnos is an island of the Aegean Sea and it may not be as famous as Mykonos or Santorini, but it sure has a lot of beautiful scenery and amazing cuisine (for another island-inspired recipe you can check this easy Santorini sweet wine panna cotta). These baked chickpeas are one of the most loved recipes on the island, so loved that they have special clay pots where they make this dish. The pot, when filled, is covered with the lid and secured with the help of a simple dough made with flour and water. The dough is kneaded into strips which are pressed on the seams between the pot and the lid. The purpose is not to let any steam get away. Then, the pot goes into a wood-fired oven for 3-4 hours, and by the time it’s out, the chickpeas are incredibly soft, tender and delicious with and a subtle smoky taste.
This recipe uses dried chickpeas. Dried chickpeas can be found everywhere throughout Greece, in contrast with the canned ones that I still haven’t been able to find here. If you can only find canned ones (which are already cooked) I’d suggest draining them and baking them with just half a cup of water, and the rest of the ingredients for 40-60 minutes. Broil for 5 minutes at the end so that the onions can caramelize and develop their entire flavor.
Some notes tips:
- If you don’t have a Dutch oven you can use any other oven-proof pot with a lid. Otherwise, you can wrap a deep pan firmly with foil.
- Ancient Greeks used sage to flavor their chickpeas, and I couldn’t agree more!
- The classic recipe from Sifnos requires only chickpeas, olive oil, salt and pepper, onions (a lot) and water. However, you can customize the spices/aromatics to your liking.
- You can substitute 1 teaspoon sweet paprika for the sweet red pepper flakes
Oh! Just another thing… This is how your food will look like when you take it out of the oven. These are the caramelized onions at the top. Just shake it gently to reveal the soft chickpeas underneath!
- 1 pound (450 grams) dried chickpeas soaked overnight
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- Pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon sage leaves, fresh or dried
- 1 tablespoon sweet red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
From the previous night, soak the chickpeas in a large bowl filled with water and 1 tablespoon salt. The water should cover the chickpeas by at least 2 inches.
Drain the chickpeas and discard any that look bad. Sprinkle them with the baking soda and mix gently with your hands. Let them rest for 20 minutes and preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
Rinse them very well and transfer them and the rest of the ingredients except the onions in a Dutch oven (or an oven-safe pot with a lid) and mix well. Cover the chickpeas with the chopped onions and add enough water to cover them by half an inch.
Cover with the lid and bake for 3.5 – 4 hours.
Serve with barley rusks and Kalamata olives. Eat!
If you can only find canned chickpeas (which are already cooked) I’d suggest draining them and baking them with just half a cup of water and the rest of the ingredients for 40-60 minutes. Uncover and broil for 5 minutes at the end so that the onions can caramelize and develop their flavor.