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How to make the crispiest roasted chickpeas with an audible crunch

Becky Krystal

THE WASHINGTON POST – A lot of snack food that deliver satisfying crunch are not the most nutritious options. Potato chips, Chex Mix, flavoured tortilla chips – these are the kinds of things I’d rather not have in the house to be tempted by them. Among the many options that have flooded the market in recent years in an effort to appeal to more health-conscious eaters are crispy chickpeas.

Naturally, this convenience comes at a price, especially when you consider how easy it is to plow through a bag in just a few handfuls. The good news is that it’s fairly simple to make roasted chickpeas at home, where your own batches may rival, or surpass, the store-bought brands in terms of flavour and audible crunch. Food editor Joe Yonan’s recipe from his 2020 book, Cool Beans, which I’m sharing below, delivers on that promise. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you get roasting.

– Canned or home-cooked? The Washington Post Food team tested this recipe with canned and home-cooked chickpeas, and both worked very well. You may prefer the low-effort option of grabbing a can at the store, which is fine. I am more likely to have dried on hand than a can, and throwing them into the Instant Pot to cook – which means I can make extra for other dishes – is no sweat. Do whatever works best for you, though if you buy canned, make sure they’re no-salt-added (and rinsed).

– Get them dry. Moisture is the enemy of crispy chickpeas. It’s worth taking a few extra steps to get rid of it. I like Joe’s multipronged approach of using a salad spinner followed by patting dry on towels and then air-drying. If you don’t have a salad spinner, it’s OK.

You may just want to do a few rounds of towel drying (this is where I’m thankful for having dozens of cheap, clean kitchen towels on hand) and then a longer period of air-drying. Not only will eliminating moisture ensure the crispiest chickpeas, it also “prevents them from flying all over your oven,” Jess Damuck said in Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession.

Crispy spiced roasted chickpeas. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

– Season any way you want. Another benefit of making roasted chickpeas at home is the ability to come up with more flavours than you’ll find at the store. Raid your pantry and experiment with your favourite spices or spice blends. Go sweet, savoury or spicy. Certain options will add textural interest, such as za’atar or everything spice. If you want to try multiple flavours, it’s easy to scale up this recipe to fill two rimmed baking sheets, or just divide the regular batch a few ways, especially easy with handy quarter-sheet pans. Of course, the DIY method also allows you to limit and control the amount of salt, which is often a sticking point when it comes to store-bought snack food.

– Be patient – up to a point. As Joe points out, he likes to do a low, slow roast for one hour at 300 degrees to generate the ultimate crunch. A further two-hour rest in the turned-off oven is key, as well. After that, just let the chickpeas finish cooling at room temperature – it won’t take long, I promise – and you’ll be good to go. The chickpeas can be enjoyed right away or stored in an airtight container for up to a week at room temperature, though frankly I doubt they will last that long. If for some reason they go soft on you, Elena Silcock said in Salads Are More Than Leaves: Salads to Get Excited About, you can pop them back in a hot oven to crisp up.

– Use them up. If you don’t inhale them all as a snack, there’s plenty more you can do with crispy chickpeas. Scatter them on top of creamy, speedy homemade hummus for a double dose of beans and contrasting texture. Damuck describes them as “like croutons, only full of protein and packed with nutty flavour,” so they’re a natural on top of salads and rice and grain bowls.

CRISPY SPICED ROASTED CHICKPEAS
Seven servings
A few extra, easy steps guarantee chickpeas with an audible crunch. Don’t rush the process and you’ll be rewarded with a satisfying snack or garnish.

This recipe works well with canned or home-cooked beans. Spice them any way you want, though we’ve offered some suggestions below.

Storage Notes: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

INGREDIENTS
One three-quarter cups cooked or canned no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Two teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Half teaspoon fine salt, divided, plus more to taste
One teaspoon za’atar, sumac, Chinese five-spice powder, Madras curry powder, Tajin seasoning, smoked paprika or other favourite spice or blend, plus more to taste

DIRECTIONS
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Place a large, rimmed baking sheet in the oven as it heats.

Put the chickpeas in a salad spinner and spin to dry them. Transfer them to a layer of clean kitchen towels or paper towels and put another layer of towels on top, rubbing gently to further dry. Let them air-dry for at least 30 minutes.

Transfer the chickpeas to a medium bowl, toss with one teaspoon of oil, quarter teaspoon of salt and the spice(s).

Transfer the chickpeas to the preheated baking sheet and roast for one hour, until the chickpeas have slightly darkened and begin to get crisp on the edges. Turn off the heat but leave the chickpeas in the oven to cool (resist the urge to open the door), about two hours.

Transfer the baking sheet to your kitchen counter and let cool completely. Drizzle with the remaining one teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining quarter teaspoon of salt. Taste, and season with more salt and/or spices, if needed.

Serve, or transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature until needed.

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