Recipes from the Farmers’ Market: Chickpea Dip with Ciabatta Toasts and Veggies

Ok.  Due to some personal upheaval, I missed my “Shopping at” post on Monday. I didn’t even have a chance to pre-write and schedule it, which bummed me out because I had news!  I went to the Market on Saturday – and IT HAILED.  HARD.  For a while, actually.  I was almost ready to throw in the towel and leave, when the skies cleared – well, not CLEARED, exactly, but switched back to light rain instead of death-hail. And later that day, a few miles from my house, it SNOWED!!!!  That never happens here.  It was AWESOME!  😀

But!  What you really want to know is what I bought, right?  Well, not much.  I had some stuff going bad in my fridge, and I’m trying REALLY hard not to throw things away, so I needed to eat that (more on that later this week).  But I did buy:
1/2 chicken @ $4.50/lb = $10.50 (ouch)
Celery @ $1.50/bunch (for a potluck on Sunday)
Bread – normally $4 each, but I got a deal because of the hail and bought 3 for $10: Sourdough, Ciabatta and Irish Soda Bread
Apples – various kinds and prices/lb = $4 (They were small apples, about 1/4 the size of chain-store apples, and I only bought 5.)

And  what did I make?  (You read the post title, right?  Ok, then.)

First things first: the chickpea dip recipe is adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe (I know, I know, but some of her stuff really is good).  I used more oil (shocking, I know), more garlic (also shocking) and supplemented the fresh thyme with dried.  But it was SUPER easy:

Ingredients:
2 cans chickpeas
3-4 cloves garlic, minced (depending on how much you like garlic)
zest and juice from 2 juicy lemons, or 4 not-so-juicy ones.
10 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1 Tbs dried thyme (about a palmful), crushed between your fingers
1/2 – 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (the original recipe called for 1/2 cup, but that left the dip too dry and grainy for my taste.  I used about 3/4 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste

The Recipe
Ready?  Are you sure?  This is complicated . . .

Put everything but the oil, salt and pepper in the food processor and blitz it.  Add the oil in a stream through the top funnel.  (Note: do NOT add it in and try to blitz everything at once.  Instead of a dip, you will end up with a really nasty, oily, chunky mess.  Take my word for it – and let us never speak of how I know this.)  Take the lid off, stir, add salt and pepper.  Stir again.  Taste.  Add more salt and pepper if you need to, stirring (or blitzing) until you get a taste you like. 

That’s it!  Ready for the Ciabatta toasts?

Ingredients
8 ciabatta squares (or so) – don’t use domed round loaves, or you’ll be sorry when you have to start cutting them into smaller bits.  For real.  It will be an ENORMOUS pain.  Get the flattest ones you can find.
Olive oil, for drizzling
Salt, pepper, and if you’re like me, garlic powder, to sprinkle

The Recipe:
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Cut the ciabatta (should that be capitalized?  I never know . . . ) into bite-size/appetizer-size bits.  (This is easier and speedier than it sounds, since Ciabatta (I’ll split the difference on the capitalization) is mostly air.  😉  Tip: cut them so that the bread insides are facing up.  I cut my squares in half, as though I were creating 2 pieces of sandwich bread, and then cut each half down the middle (so now I have 4 pieces), and then cut each piece into thirds ( = 12 pieces per square).

Spray two (foil-lined, if you’re so inclined) baking sheets with nonstick spray and arrange the pieces on the sheets.  You can pack these in tightly – they’ll be fine as long as they’re in a single layer.  Drizzle olive oil over them (just a little bit or you’ll have greasy, stodgy little hockey pucks at the end), and LIGHTLY sprinkle some garlic powder over them.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over them, to taste.

Bake for 10 minutes, switch the pans (bottom to top and vice versa) and bake for 10 more minutes.  Let cool and toss in a plastic bag to store.  They’ll keep for several days – if they last that long. 

Serve the dip with the Ciabatta Toasts (or just pita chips if you don’t want to mess around) and veggie sticks of your preference.

How Did it Go?
Well, honestly, I had my doubts.  Especially when 1/2 cup of olive oil left me with a dry, chunky mess.  But! Another 1/4 cup left me with something smooth, though not quite creamy, and enough dip to take to a party of 12 and STILL bring leftovers home.  And no, NOT because they hated it.  People snapped that stuff up and LOVED it, so THERE.  😉 

This was great with the toasts and the celery (the only veggie I provided, because I. am. lazy. like that), and would be amazing – AMAZING, for real – as a spread on a roasted chicken sandwich (especially if you added some roasted red peppers and maybe some arugula).  I’m inclined to toss it with some pasta, just to see what would happen (will it thin out? will it stay chunky? THE SUSPENSE, IT KILLS ME), and it would be good as an egg-salad binder too, though much more substantial than mayonnaise (it would work on chicken salad too, for that matter).   I actually spread some on sourdough toast this morning and ate it for breakfast, and even THAT was good: the bright lemon flavor really went well with the sourness of the sourdough.

So, there you go!  A shopping trip and a recipe, all in one go!  The only thing left to say is: try this.  You won’t be sorry.

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