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Sautéed Zucchini with Za’atar and Crispy Chickpeas

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Serves four.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 106

Couscous makes a nice bed for this simple side dish flavored with za’atar, a zesty Middle Eastern blend of spices and sesame seeds.

  • 2/3 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. za’atar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. small zucchini (3 to 4), cut into 1/2-inch-thick half moons
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced (3 to 4 Tbs.)

In a colander, rinse the chickpeas. Pat dry in a clean dishtowel. Spread the cornstarch in a pie pan or on a dinner plate with raised edges. Add the chickpeas and roll them around to coat. Transfer to a mesh strainer and shake to remove excess starch.

In a small (8-inch) skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering hot. Add the chickpeas, cover with a splatter screen, and cook, gently shaking the pan from time to time, until golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chickpeas to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle the chickpeas with 1 tsp. of the za’atar and a generous pinch of salt. Roll the chickpeas around to evenly coat with the spice mixture. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until shimmering hot. Add the squash, arranging it to fit in a single, snug layer. Season generously with salt and cook undisturbed until deep golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Push a spatula through the pan to turn the squash over, following with tongs or a fork to flip any unturned pieces. Sprinkle the diced onion and remaining 1 Tbs. za’atar over the zucchini and stir with a spatula to blend. Transfer the zucchini to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the fried chickpeas and serve.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 180; Fat (g): fat g 10; Fat Calories (kcal): 90; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 1.5; Protein (g): protein g 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 16; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 170; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Awesome recipe! This technique for chickpeas was a revelation. My 7 year old said the chickpeas were like popcorn, but better. My only quibble is that 2/3 cup cooked chickpeas would have not been enough for us (2 adults & 2 kids, one of whom didn't eat much). I just used a whole can of chickpeas and doubled the cornstarch. Everything else was the same. Really delicious and very easy. Served with couscous and salad. Will definitely make again.

Blah. Not nearly as flavourful as expected and the recipe is rather imprecise (took much longer to cook all ingredients; should the onion be cooked or not?). Added some lemon, sumac, pepper after tasting but it really couldn't be redeemed. Probably the least satisfying FC recipe I've tried.

Wow ! I did this with an accompanying couscous harissa and beetroot salad and it was amazing. I made my own zaatar : 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, 2 tbsp thyme, 1 1/2 tbsp sumac. The crispy chickpeas were a revelation and the different tastes and textures incredible together. A squeeze of lemon as said previously works wonders at the end. Thank you so much !!!!

I served this to visiting family who, along with my husband and I, are trying to eat healthy and lessen our meat consumption. I appreciated the fact I could have most of it chopped and the peas cooked in advance of our guest's arrival. We all enjoyed it very much! I served it with couscous, fat free Greek style yogurt, harissa (a spicy Moroccan condiment-easy to make) as we all enjoy a bit of heat to certain dishes and a grapefruit/fennel salad. I had the ingredients to make, rather than buy, the Za'atar. As was noted on page 92 of the Aug/Sept issue, Za'atar blends abound. Mine came from a Moroccan cookbook: 1 tbsp dried thyme, 1 tbsp ground sumac, 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds and a generous pinch of sea or kosher salt. Increase the quantity as desired. Thanks again for another enjoyable recipe.

I loved the texture of the chickpeas. I don't have za'atar so I used sesame seeds, chopped oregano and thyme. I will make it again but add more seasoning (lemon zest?) and use less oil. If you have zucchini to get rid of, may as well pair it with yummy, crispy chickpeas. Warning - the chickpeas 'pop' and splatter hot oil.

I prepared the recipe in one skillet and used half the amount of oil called for. I used a ziploc bag to coat the chickpeas in cornstarch. Why dirty another dish? The chickpeas were delicious all by themselves when first prepared. But, by the time they got added to the zucchini, which took way more than the 2 minutes stated, they were a little on the dry side. The za'atar makes it special, but I'm not sure I'd make it again as no one seemed that crazy about it.

I just tried this recipe. It was "okay" at best. The chickpeas were nice and crunchy, but not wonderful. The zucchini were just zucchini -- we didn't find anything special about the seasoning. Oh well.

This was ridiculously fast and delicious, and everything is better with za'atar! I gave it 5 stars based on some tweaks I made to it. After it came off the stove, I added lemon zest, lemon juice, and crumbled feta. Fantastic!!!

So good! I actually used an Indian-type spice mix but will try it with making my own za'atar mix as well. We had it over Israeli couscous. The chickpeas are amazing this way. I've fried them before but shaking them in the cornstarch makes them very crispy. Can't wait to get more summer squash from my CSA next week!

I loved this recipe. I made my own spice blend after searching various recipes on the web as I had all the ingredients to make the blend. Chickpeas were declicious and crunchy a nice meat free dinner. I also served this over a bed of Quinoa for more nutrition.

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