Chickpea Fondue

MAKES: 6 to 8 servings

TIME: 20 minutes with cooked chickpeas

Throughout the Mediterranean, chickpeas are often pured to make rich sauces, and that’s the idea behind this wonderful spin on fondue. When you cook chick-peas yourself (which is what I recommend; canned is definitely a distant second here) it’s loaded with distinctive chickpea flavor, rich with roasted garlic, and silky smooth sort of like a warm, smooth hummus, perfect for dipping as described here or as a sauce for everything from pasta or rice to grilled or roasted vegetables.

Serve this traditional fondue style (see Cheese Fondue), surrounded with things for dipping: cherry tomatoes; cauliflower florets; slices of cucumber and bell pepper; cubes of feta, kasseri, havarti, or fried tofu (see Crispy Panfried Tofu); boiled or roasted potato; cubes or slices of roasted or grilled eggplant; bits of pita or crusty bread; Mushroom Fritters or Bulgur Croquettes with Walnuts. (It’s okay if you don’t have the equipment to keep this fondue warm on the table, because it won’t harden like cheese fondues. Just make sure it’s pretty hot to start out.)

Other beans you can use: cannellini, Great Northern, navy, or cranberry.

3 cups cooked chickpeas with 3 to 4 cups of their cooking liquid

20 or so cloves Roasted Garlic or 2 raw cloves

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Chopped parsley for garnish

Put the chickpeas with 3 cups of their cooking liquid in a blender and add the garlic and oil; sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Pure and let the machine run for a minute or two, until the mixture is very smooth almost light and fluffy. Add more cooking liquid (or use vegetable stock or water) until the consistency is like a smooth dip or thick soup.

Transfer the pure to a pot over medium heat; heat through while stirring constantly. Add the lemon juice, taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed. Serve warm, garnished with the parsley.

Variations

Hummus Fondue. The same delicious sesame flavor: Use the raw garlic instead of the roasted, and in Step 2 add about 2 teaspoons ground cumin and 2 to 3 tablespoons tahini, or to taste.

Cheesy Chickpea Fondue. Here you need a nutty-flavored cheese that melts easily: In Step 2, add 1/2 cup or more grated cheese, like Parmesan, Gruyre, raclette, Comt, Emmental, or fontina. Or try a blue cheese, like Maytag, Roquefort, or Gorgonzola. Proceed with the recipe, heating the mixture until the cheese is fully melted.

6 Additions to Chickpea Fondue Stir in any of these just before serving, either alone or in combination

  1. Up to 1/4 cup of any herb pesto, herb paste, or sauce, like Traditional Pesto, (Parsley Pesto, or Lighter Cilantro Pesto; omit the roasted garlic if you like)
  2. A tablespoon or so any Chile Paste
  3. A large pinch of crumbled saffron threads, steeped first in a couple tablespoons hot water
  4. A dollop or two of Mushroom Ketchup
  5. Up to 1/4 cup of finely chopped nuts, like walnuts, almonds, or pistachios
  6. A tablespoon or so of any curry powder or similar spice blend (to make your own, see Fragrant Curry Powder)