The Romans loved chickpeas, and planted them wherever they spread their empire. The greatest orator of ancient times, Marcus Tullius Cicero, was named after a chickpea. One myth said this was because his father had a wart the size of a cicer on his nose; another said Marcus Tullius used to fill his mouth with cicers in order to train himself to speak clearly — but more likely it was because his grandparents had been traders in cicers, just as anyone called Fabius had a background in fava beans, and anyone called Lentulus had a background in lentils. Cicero was urged to change his name when he entered politics, but he said his performance would elevate the humble chickpea to noble status.
If you want to celebrate the wisdom of Cicero by eating as he would have done, make this recipe without capsicums and tomatoes.
Cigrons Amb Xoriço
- 3 cups dried or tinned gluten-free chickpeas ensure gluten-free
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 –3 tablespoons olive oil
- 250 g gluten-free fresh chorizo or Italian sausages
- 1 white onion finely chopped
- 200 g bacon diced
- 1 red capsicum finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 800 g fresh ripe tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 1 teaspoon hot chilli flakes or 2 finely chopped fresh hot red chillies
- If you’re using dried chickpeas, soak them overnight in about 2 litres (8 cups) cold water with a couple of pinches of salt. Drain them and place into a large soup pot, cover with cold water and place over medium heat. Add the bay leaves and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for an hour. Skim off any foam, season with salt and pepper and simmer for another hour, or until tender. Drain the chickpeas over a bowl, reserving 500ml (2 cups) of the cooking liquid.
- If you’re using tinned chickpeas, bring them to a boil with the bay leaves, simmer for 5 minutes, then drain them and reserve 500ml (2 cups) of the cooking liquid. Splash a little olive oil into a large casserole dish and brown the sausages on all sides over medium heat. Remove, slice and set aside. Splash a bit more olive oil into the same pan, still over medium heat, then sauté the onion and the bacon for 8 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
- Add the capsicum and continue frying and stirring for another 8 minutes or so, until everything is tender. Now add the garlic and stir for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, sausage slices and thyme. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Now add the chickpeas, chilli and the reserved 500ml (2 cups) of chickpea cooking water. Bring to the boil, mixing thoroughly.
- Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, until the chickpeas are very tender. Taste for seasoning and serve with toasted gluten-free bread rubbed with garlic.