The popularity of the Mediterranean Diet has exploded in recent years, and for good reason. People living along the Mediterranean Sea have known for a long time that a diet high in unsaturated fats, vegetables, and fish is loaded with a slew of health benefits.
Back in the 80’s and 90’s, low-fat diets and fat-free foods were all the rage. But lately, new research has proven that certain fats are not only good for you, but essential for optimal health.
One of those fats, and one of the major components of the Mediterranean Diet, is Olive Oil. I’ve had a long love affair with Olive Oil, but recently I’ve become enamored with Olive Oils from Spain. I’ve found the quality to be more consistent than oils from other countries, and they always have a rich, peppery flavor.
Many people shy away from frying with olive oil, but it’s actually nothing to be afraid of. This recipe for crispy chick peas is a great example of why. We fry at a high temperature to achieve the crunchy, crisp texture that makes them perfect for snacking. But using a good quality Olive Oil from Spain will add lots of flavor as well. You simply wouldn’t get the same result from any other kind of oil.
Whoever would have thought that eating something fried could be healthy?! This snack boasts fiber and protein from the chick peas, plus monounsaturated fat and antioxidants from the Olive Oil of Spain. You can indulge yourself and snack on these completely guilt free.
I love a good crispy chick pea. Never had one before? Then you’re in for a treat!
It’s traditional in Spain to fry them, but the trend as of lately has been to bake them in the oven. Both methods produce good enough results, but I’ve found a combination of the two results in the crispiest chick pea with the best overall texture.
I like to start by frying the chick peas in hot Olive Oil from Spain, and then finish them in the oven. Starting them off in hot oil allows the crisping process to begin, while the circular heat from the oven helps dehydrate and crisp them throughout. It’s the best of both worlds!
I prefer to make these in either a cast iron pan or a skillet that can be transferred from the stove to the oven. I love cast iron because of how well it distributes heat, which is very important when frying.
You could easily season these simply with salt and they would still be completely addictive. But I love the complexity that comes with the addition of a few spices and fresh herbs. The ancho chile powder adds a rich chile flavor with the tiniest bit of heat, while the garlic and smoked paprika gives a classic Spanish flavor profile. The basil adds freshness and a mellow herbal perfume.
Either way, the guests at your next cocktail party will be gobbling them up and begging you for the recipe. They’re that good!
- 1 15 oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed and dried* (see note)
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil from Spain
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon torn basil leaves and flowers
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pour the Olive Oil from Spain in a medium-large cast iron skillet and place over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, right before smoking, add in the chick peas and shake the pan vigorously for about a minute. Transfer the pan to the oven, and bake for about 25 minutes, shaking and tossing them every so often to ensure even cooking.
- While the chick peas are cooking, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. When the chick peas are deep golden brown, remove them from the oven and immediately toss with the seasoning until they are fully coated. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a serving bowl, and start snacking.
- * The most important step of this recipe is making sure the chick peas are very, very dry. If they are not, they will spit and splatter all over, while never getting totally crisp. After draining, spread them out on towels and move every 30 minutes or so until they are very dry, which can take several hours, so plan ahead. I’ve even gone as far as hitting them with the blow dryer in a pinch, but then again I have no shame.
- **This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, however it must be done in batches. Overcrowding the pan will result in excess moisture, thus preventing the chick peas from getting crisp.