In Lebanon, this peasant-style layered chickpea dish is often eaten for breakfast, and it’s a favorite morning meal of my Uncle Dominick. Every time he visits my sitto (grandmother) in our village in Northern Lebanon, he dives into a big serving of this. I’ve found, though, that this meatless meal is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Warm chickpeas are smashed with garlic cloves and covered with luscious tahini-spiked laban (yogurt) sauce and topped with fresh herbs, toasted pine nuts, and—my favorite part—baked pita chips. While the pita is often fried, I prefer to bake mine for a healthier but still crispy-crunchy version.
Even though using soaked dried chickpeas is more time-intensive, I really recommend it—the flavor makes all the difference to this tasty bowl!
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 cup dried chickpeas or 2 cups canned chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large pita pockets, cut into triangular wedges
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 garlic cloves, mashed into a smooth paste
- 2 cups laban (homemade Lebanese yogurt), or whole milk yogurt
- 1/2 cup tahini, thoroughly stirred
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika, for sprinkling
If using dried chickpeas: The day before you plan to make the layered dip, place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl, completely submerge them in 6 cups cold water, and stir in the baking soda, which will help to accelerate the softening process. Cover the bowl and let soak overnight at room temperature.
The following day, drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas in cold water. Transfer them to a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat and cover with 8 cups of cold water. Bring the chickpeas to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until the chickpeas are completely cooked through and tender. Turn off the heat and leave the chickpeas in the hot cooking liquid until ready to use.
If using canned chickpeas: Drain and rinse the chickpeas in cold water. Place the chickpeas in a small saucepan, pour 3 cups of cold water over the chickpeas, and heat pan over medium heat for approximately 5 to 7 minutes, until warm. Turn off the heat and leave the chickpeas in the hot water until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Divide the pita wedges between two baking sheets, placing them in a single layer. Lightly drizzle the pita wedges with about 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the sea salt, and 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds. Bake the pita on the center rack of the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes until crispy, slightly curled-up on the sides, and lightly golden brown, flipping them over halfway through the baking time. Remove the pita wedges from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
Drain the chickpeas from the water, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid. Place the chickpeas and reserved liquid in a medium bowl along with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, half the garlic paste, and 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt. Using a fork, smash the chickpeas slightly, then toss together thoroughly.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the laban with the tahini and the remaining garlic paste and mint and whisk together until smooth and creamy and all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour this mixture into a small pot over medium-low heat and whisk continuously until warmed. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a small sauté pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the pine nuts. Cook, stirring continuously, until toasted, fragrant, and light golden brown. Immediately remove from heat.
In a serving bowl or medium casserole dish, layer half the pita pieces on the bottom, then spoon half the chickpea mixture over it. Ladle the warm laban sauce over all. Add the remaining chickpea mixture over the sauce and sprinkle with the minced parsley, paprika, and toasted pine nuts. Finish by arranging the rest of the pita chips around the serving bowl or casserole dish. Enjoy warm.
taboulie tip! It’s key to continuously whisk the yogurt tahini sauce to achieve the correct creamy consistency, otherwise it’s likely to curdle.
Reprinted from “Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen: Authentic Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Mediterranean Home Cooking” by Julie Ann Sageer. Published by St. Martin’s Griffin.