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Spicy Fried Chickpeas

Here is a quick and easy antipasto made with just a few ingredients. Enjoy these full-flavored chickpeas with a glass of Prosecco spumante (sparkling) or frizzante (lightly sparkling), a fruity white wine from the Veneto. Look for a label that includes either Conegliano or Valdobbiadene as the origin, areas where Prosecco grapes yield the finest wines. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas  
  • Olive or canola oil for frying  
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled 
  • 6 fresh sage leaves 
  • Sea salt, to taste 
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste 

Directions:

Drain the chickpeas in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Transfer to paper towels and dry thoroughly.

In a deep, heavy fry pan, pour in olive oil to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Line a platter or rimmed baking sheet with paper towels and set it next to the stove.

When the oil is ready, add the garlic cloves and fry until they begin to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the chickpeas and sage and fry until crisp and browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Take care when adding the chickpeas as they might spit and sputter due to moisture; cook them in batches if necessary, allowing the oil to return to 375°F before adding the next batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chickpeas, garlic and sage to the paper towel-lined platter to drain.

Sprinkle the chickpeas with salt and cayenne, transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).