Fragrant pesto, punchy fried lemons, and a touch of milk transform the humble canned chickpea into a totally effortless yet luxurious meal in this easy vegetarian recipe. Quick pantry meals like this, live on my weekly rotation.
Fry the lemon rings: Make sure you’ve removed any seeds from the lemon slices. In a small skillet set over medium heat, add ¼ cup olive oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer (don’t let it smoke). Use tongs to carefully slide the lemon slices into the oil. They could splatter so if you have a splatter guard this is a good time to use it. Cook, turning the lemon slices occasionally, until they are crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Drain the lemons: Line a plate with paper towels and set aside. Remove the skillet from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fried lemons to the paper towel-lined plate. Immediately season with a big pinch of salt (about ½ teaspoon) and sumac, if using. Set aside. Don’t toss the lemon infused oil in the pan. Let it cool then add it to vinaigrettes, use for dipping crusty bread or drizzle over roasted vegetables.
For the chickpeas:
Heat the chickpeas: Into a medium saucepan, add 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chickpeas and their liquid. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and allow the chickpeas to simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until very soft. Remove from the heat.
Finish the chickpeas: Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, basil pesto, milk (or cream). Garnish with sliced jalapeños and fried lemon rings (if using).
Serve: Transfer the braised chickpea to serving bowls and serve with a side of crusty bread.
Remember to wash your hands with soapy water after slicing the jalapeño (or wear gloves). Avoid touching your face or eyes for a bit!
The braised chickpeas can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to three days.