created at: 2013-08-22
Most people get the majority of their chickpea intake from hummus. But this humble legume is so much more. It can add buttery flavor to a salad, contribute creaminess to a soup, or, as it does here, make for a protein-packed snack that you can take with you on the go or to a picnic.

That’s exactly what I did a few nights ago at an outdoor concert. When people find out you fancy yourself a food fan and have a culinary degree, there’s a lot of pressure to put together an impressive picnic. My secret to a successful picnic is to treat it like tapas on a blanket—that is, lots of small salads instead of one main dish.

One of those small bites is these chickpeas, in which I combine one underrated ingredient with another sparsely used spice: smoked paprika. In the States, paprika is often used a garnish; an afterthought used for color but not flavor. But smoked paprika has an unmistakable sweetness and, well, smokiness to it. So much, in fact, that one teaspoon is all it takes to flavor a pan full of chickpeas.

This recipe requires some patience, so make sure not to move the chickpeas so they’ll have time to brown. You’ll be rewarded with a smoky side dish with a crisp exterior and buttery-smooth interior that will be the surprise star of any picnic.

Smoked Paprika Chickpeas

1 19-ounce can chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon parsley, minced

1. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Spread on three layers of paper towels and roll dry.

2. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering and about to smoke. Add chickpeas and salt and stir until chickpeas are coated with oil and resting in one layer in pan. Let cook until bottoms of chickpeas have browned, about 6 minutes.

3. Stir chickpeas until brown sides are facing upwards and let cook until second side is brown, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add smoked paprika and parsley and stir until both are evenly distributed.