Slow Baked Garbanzos

One of my favorite books from the last years has been The Blue Zones (National Geographic, 2008) by Dan Buettner. Statistics for longevity are examined and there are some not so surprising conclusions reached, my favorite being that those of us lucky enough to make it to the old folks stage tend to eat beans.

The Greek Island of Ikaria is mentioned a lot and it’s referred to as the place where people forget to die. Citizens work, garden, eat whole foods, little meat and of course eat beans (and drink wine.) Works for me. Diane Kochilas’ book on the cuisine is Ikaria: Lesssons, Life and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die (Rodale Press, 2014) and there are a lot of solid recipes, making it worth your consideration. It’s a serious cookbook from someone who clearly loves good food.

Like many great dishes, it just takes a few ingredients to make something grand. In this case, almost cooked chickpeas are the foundation, followed by layers of onion, garlic, bell peppers, carrot and tomato.

This is slow-cooked for nearly three hours.

The vegetables end up with a great melt-in-your-mouth texture and create a sauce with the garbamzos and olive oil.

The original recipe says you can serve it hot, warm or at room temperature. Straight out of the oven, I think it just tastes like heat. Be sure and allow it to cool down. It tasted best at room temperature to me and leftovers the next day were tossed with some ham. Might fine, but perhaps gilding the lily.

Recipe: Slow Baked Garbanzos Beans
adapted from a recipe by Diane Kochilas’ Ikara (Rodale Press, 2014)

1 pound Rancho Gordo Garbanzo beans
6 medium sprigs of fresh thyme
2 medium sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 Rancho Gordo bay leaves
salt and pepper
3 large red onions, half and sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
1 each of red, green and orange bell peppers, cleaned and sliced into 1/4-inch rings
1 stalk celery, sliced into matchstick-sized pieces
2-3 large tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cook the garbanzos in plenty of water with one of the bay leaves. Bring the pot to a rapid boil and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low. Gently simmer the beans until they’re almost soft, about an hour to an hour and half. (Timing will vary wildly if you are using older beans or a brand other than Rancho Gordo.) Strain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid.

Preheat the oven to 325F.

In a oven proof clay pan, like a cazuela, add the drained garbanzos followed by enough of the reserved cooking broth to reach 2/3 of the way up the beans. Add the herbs and lightly salt.

Over the chickpeas, layer the onions, followed by the garlic, then the peppers, the celery and finally the tomatoes, very lightly salting each layer as you continue. Finish with the olive oil. Cover the pan with a lid if you have one, otherwise cover with a piece of parchment paper and aluminium foil. Bake for 2 and half hours. Remove the top and continue baking for another 30 minutes. The liquid should be absorbed and top just starting to char. Remove and allow to cool to warm or room temperature. Crack plenty of black pepper over the top and serve.

(The original recipe calls for a carrot. I had celery on hand, so here it is.)


20 Comments on Slow Baked Garbanzos

  1. Made this today on my day off. Amazing. I sprinkled some feta cheese on it before serving. It takes a while to make…mostly baking and boiling time, but it’s worth it.

  2. Looks fantastic! My husband u
    Is allergic to garbanzo beans. Which other beans would go good in this?

  3. I would like to not use any oil. Just leave out or increase broth?

  4. What are the dimensions or capacity of the cazuela or bean pot for this recipe? I’m going to purchase one, so would like to make sure that it’s big enough.

  5. One of the key components of the Meditteranean diet is olive oil, and in the Blue Zones people use a lot of it. When I first started using these recipes I cut it in half and while the food was okay, it wasn’t great. Now I use all the oil and it makes a huge difference. Oddly, I have been steadily losing weight since I began eating the Blue Zone diet with all the oil, about ten pounds in the last year. But for taste, my experience is that the recipes generally do not adapt well when there is no oil. I use quality olive oil, Prada de Nunez, Luchini, and for finishing I especially like Katz or Georgia Olive Oil.

    • Olive oil and garbanzos is a particularly heavenly marriage.
      I do know there’s one school of thought about cutting all oils. I could do vegan but giving up olive oil would be really hard for me.
      I love all the Blue Zone research. it’s fascinating and generally not so hard to embrace.

  6. Devoted Bean Club mbr here.

    Made this yesterday. Flavors all very delicious, and I did use the ½ c olive oil. But the bean broth barely absorbed into the beans, so it came out runny for what I expected. Next time I will cook beans less first, or use ¼ of the way up the beans with the bean broth. Might use 350 degrees, too. This was for me a pretty labor-intensive recipe, more than I expected.
    As a first try it was pretty good but I know how I will change it if I do it again.

    I think it hinges on what “almost soft” means as to the beans’ cooking beforehand. It’s hard to specify, I get that, but to me almost soft is “edible”, but on the firm side. There wasn’t a lot left for them to absorb.

    Next time I will either reduce bean broth or cook the beans less first.

    Also the veggies totally lost all color and shape for me, so the time spent carefully slicing and arranging was not well spent. The extra broth just basically “boiled” them. With practice a person will be able to gauge how “moist” the veggies are (my tomatoes were full of their inner juices, for example), how cooked the beans are, and adjust the broth accordingly.

    A final note, it tasted FAR better to me the next day, as many such dishes do, but fresh from the oven would have been a mistake, as Steve said.

  7. I’m making this today with royal caronas!

  8. Drat. This sounds so good…but I will have to save it till next summer, when I grow fresh thyme…and rosemary…and tomatoes. It’s winter here in Iowa and none of these items are worth buying right now.

  9. Just want to encourage you to give it a try if you can find fresh herbs. It’s my family”s new favorite …we made with carrots …cooked 2.5 hours at 350 per the TV show…I live in massachusers where we r having a nor’easter at the moment and look forward to this for dinner…Hardy and warming

  10. I do not have a clay pan. Can I use cast iron and get a good result? if not, can you suggest a source for a clay pan? What size would work? You asked about the cooking vessel in a question above, so I thought it must be important. Thank you.

  11. For Linda…I made mine in my Le Creuset since I don’t have a clay pot. Came out perfect. Have a pot going right now.

  12. I love the Blue Zones book! I was just reading through it again last night; looking for recipe motivation. It’s one of the reasons I just placed an order with you tonight—to stock up on beans! I’m excited to check out the Ikaria cookbook you cited above. I will be making these garbanzos very soon…they look mouthwatering. Thank you!

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