A bit sultry, slightly naughty and surprisingly easy, saucy chickpeas romesco with red pepper sauce using simple blender magic transports your dinner to Spain. Fire up the over, get peppers and shallots roasting, grab the blender and hit your stock of chickpeas – now we’re cooking!
Get started: how to roast red peppers
At its core, this romesco sauce, known as is all about roasted red peppers. Yes, there will be tomatoes, but the charred flavor of roasted peppers along with shallots (you can also use onions) gives this sauce a rich, smoky flavor that carries the flavor of the rest of the ingredients.
You can get roasted red peppers in a jar and it can prove a suitable substitute; however, if you are diligently following a whole food, plant-based approach to eating, then you must be mindful that jarred red peppers are notoriously laden with oil. I've never been successful in finding them water-packed, but then, my effort has been haphazard as I prefer doing it myself. In particular, when red peppers are on sale, you’ll find me loading up my bag and heading them straight to the oven.
Absent an outdoor grill, I rely on my oven for pepper roasting. I will caution you that they can make their presence permanently known on your baking sheet, so always use a baking mat or parchment paper. As they break down and they release their sugars, they get really messy.
Cut them, take out the seeds and clean the core. I find that quartering them makes them quicker to roast and easier to handle once they cool. As we’ll be using a blender for our sauce, I like to dice them into a few smaller pieces to make them a bit more manageable.
Should you remove the skins from roasted peppers?
Once your peppers cool, the skins will be easy to remove. We like the flavor the charred bits add, so I usually leave the skins on and just discard the bits that fall off. This is entirely up to you. The skins can be difficult for some folks to digest; however, we will be blending the romesco sauce smooth so keep that in mind.
Cut the shallots in half and peel the skin off before you add those to the oven. I left the ends on and removed them after they cooled. This just makes handling easier. I cut the roasted halves into a few small pieces, again to make the blending easier.
How to make romesco sauce
Romesco sauce might sound fancy, but making this red pepper blender sauce is super easy. Your peppers and shallots will take about 25 minutes to pop into the oven, cook, and head to the blender. That's just enough time to grind a few almonds and gather the rest of the simple ingredients you'll need.
Full disclosure, I love red pepper romesco sauce so much that this is my second recipe. If you compare the two recipes, you’ll notice several differences. There is a mix of almonds and hazelnuts as well as roasted, not tinned tomatoes. And although I passively suggested paring my original romesco sauce with chickpeas, I decided that if friendly chickpeas could talk, they might tell you that swimming in a sea of rich romesco sauce is exactly the way they’d like to star in a Spanish-themed dinner show.
If you’re going to be a star, then you need a special sauce to show you off.
If your kitchen is like ours, there are always a few tins or bags of these tasty seeds (yes, they are technically seeds) hanging around. If that isn’t the case, if you’re new to plant-based eating or the chickpea craze just hasn’t hit your kitchen, it’s time to prepare my friend.
What’s in a name?
International appeal perhaps? For years, I choose garbanzo beans off the shelves, never realizing those were the chickpeas I was hearing all about. And by the way, if you hear mention of something delicious with Bengal gram, Egyptian peas or chana – yep, those are chickpeas too, so listen up.
Scratch or straight out-of-the can
Do you ever have the problem of opening a can of chickpeas and somehow about a quarter of them ends up gone before you ever add them to the pot? Surely, I’m not the only person who steals a few (or handfuls) as I prep. If you’re wondering, chickpeas are great rinsed and drained and straight out of the can.
More recently, I've renewed my interest in making beans from scratch. Although the cans are far more convenient, having a few bags of black beans and chickpeas is fundamental pantry preparation as far as I'm concerned. If you're making soup, for example, you can flavor chickpeas while they simmer and create a wonderful broth to accompany even homemade noodles.
When I made chickpeas with romesco sauce; however, I used simply simmered chickpeas. And the steps were as easy as follows:
1. Rinse 2 ½ cups of dried chickpeas (make it 3 and save some for later if you like). Place them in a pot and cover them with at least 3 times the water. Soak them overnight.
2. After soaking, drain and rinse the chickpeas and the cooking pot. Add the chickpeas back with 10 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. The salt is optional but helps to bring out the flavor of the chickpeas.
3. Bring the pot to boil and reduce to simmer, then cover the pot and cook the chickpeas until they are tender throughout. This takes about 2 hours and is dependent on how old your chickpeas are, your pot and ultimately the temperature that is maintained during the cooking process.
Check for doneness
I cannot stress enough about ensuring that beans and legumes, like lentils, are thoroughly cooked. Besides soaking beans, undercooked are huge contributors to indigestion. Nothing will put your eaters off like serving undercooked beans. They won’t be back in any hurry for sure.
The 'doneness test' is straightforward. And it goes like this – taste them. If you can easily mush the chickpea (or other beans) between your tongue and roof of your mouth, they are done. And remember the rule: ‘el dante’ first level for pasta, seventh level for beans’. Ok, that’s my rule. At any rate, make sure your beans or chickpeas, garbanzo beans, whatever you call them, are fully cooked.
It’s especially important to use fully cooked chickpeas when you add them to your romesco because all you’ll do when you add them is heat them through. It’s that simple. Same for the sauce, once you blend it and get it into the pot. Heat, and serve.
Cooking, like life, is full of variations. Different options, different shades. Variations happen. We make choices based on what’s in front of us or in the cupboard, we want to try something new or improve on an old favorite. It can even be making the best worst decision. Appreciate the variations, enjoy the journey, learn what you can, and don’t dwell on the mistakes. Peace.Print
saucy chickpeas romesco: red pepper blender magic
A bit sultry, slightly naughty and surprisingly easy, chickpeas in roasted red pepper romesco sauce transports your dinner experience to a taste of Spain.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Main Courses
- Cuisine: Spanish
- Diet: Vegan
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into quarters
- 2 shallots (or 1 small onion) cut in halves
- ¼ cup raw almonds (you can use roasted, but make sure they are salt-free)
- 2 - 15 oz. (400 gm) cans tomatoes packed in juice (I prefer cherry tomatoes, but use what you have available)
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. red chili flakes (or harissa chili blend)
- 1 ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. date paste
- 3 - 15 oz. (400 gm.) cans chickpeas (4 ½ cups cooked), rinsed and drained
- Preheat the oven to 4250F (2220C).
- Grind the almonds into a fine powder. Set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
- Cut the red peppers into quarters, clean out the seeds and core and place them skin-side up on the baking tray.
- Next, slice the shallots in half and peel the skins. Place them cut side up on the baking tray along with the peppers and place them in the oven.
- Roast the peppers and shallots for 20 minutes or until they start to char.
- Meanwhile, grind the ¼ cup of almonds in a spice grinder or, if you have a high-speed blender, use that.
- While you wait on the peppers, you can add the almonds, tomatoes, garlic powder, chili flakes, smoked paprika, red wine vinegar and date paste to a blender or food processor.
- When the peppers are done, allow them to cool a few minutes so you can handle them. You can peel the outer skins if desired. Cut the peppers and shallots into smaller pieces to make blending easier. Add them to the blender and blend all the sauce ingredients until they are smooth.
- Add the romesco sauce to a medium pan and heat for a few minutes. Be careful to watch the heat and add a lid so the sauce doesn’t splatter.
- Mix in the chickpeas and heat through.
- Serve with additional chili flakes over rice or quinoa if desired. And add chopped parsley as a garnish if desired.
- Nutritional information does not include rice.
- If you omit the almonds the sauce will be a bit thinner; however, you could substitute ¼ cup of cooked chickpeas. The taste will not be exactly the same, but this is a reasonable substitute if you do not want to include nuts.
- If you reheat in the microwave, be sure to cover the dish and do it in short time increments so the chickpeas don’t explode. No cleaning messy microwaves.
- If you really want to extend this dish, you can serve it with a short pasta such as macaroni or penne. This will turn it into a filling dish.
Keywords: chickpes in red pepper sauce