Chickpeas and kale with aleppo pepper

March 9, 2012 § 4 Comments

Chickpeas and I go way back, starting from when I was a little kid and enjoyed eating them mashed up as hummus, and in college they appeared frequently both in my dining-hall meals, and later in curries when I lived in an apartment off-campus. More recently my fondness began to wane, prompted by a twelve dollar chickpea salad that was both appallingly dull and expensive.

Fortunately, Super Natural Every Day came along and reminded me that chickpeas are still part of a healthy diet and budget, thanks to the incredible chickpeas and kale with aleppo pepper and lemon recipe that I adapted from it. Spicy, tangy, and garlicky, with tender chickpeas nestled among kale leaves that retain just a bit of their bite, this salad is perfect to take to work for lunch, or for serving family-style at a relaxing dinner.

The recipe isn’t so much a recipe as a rough sketch; if you don’t happen to have kale, feel free to adapt — the original recipe called for dandelion greens. As I couldn’t find any dandelion greens at the market, and admittedly the last time I tried to eat dandelion greens was in elementary school at recess (is that more or less embarrassing than spending twelve dollars on a terrible chickpea salad?), kale turned out to be an excellent substitute, its peppery bite tying together the nutty chickpeas with the lemon zest and aleppo pepper. I think Swiss chard would also be an excellent choice, as I love it with anything spicy.

Additionally, aleppo pepper flakes were swapped in for red pepper flakes, as I love its buildup of heat and floral notes. But if you have a favorite red pepper flake, this is a perfect dish to showcase both it and whatever greens are in season.

Chickpeas and kale with aleppo pepper

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day

Serves two as a main dish, three to four as a side dish


  • Two cups (ten ounces or 280 grams) cooked chickpeas (or one 15 ounce/425 gram can chickpeas, rinsed and drained)
  • Four tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Four cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 to one teaspoon (or to taste) aleppo pepper or dried red pepper flakes of your choice
  • Fine sea salt
  • One large bunch (a few handfuls) kale, stems removed and shredded into bite-size pieces (or other green of your choice)
  • Grated zest of one lemon

1. Prepare chickpeas by soaking overnight, covered in at least a few inches of water. Then simmer chickpeas in triple the volume of water until soft, about thirty minutes to an hour, depending on the vagaries of dried beans. Test before draining and then leaving to cool. (Feel free to prepare in advance and then store in the refrigerator for a few days, bringing them back to room temperature before continuing.) If using canned chickpeas, open the can, pour out the goo, rinse, and drain. Place the chickpeas into a heat-safe serving bowl and set aside.

2. In a roomy cast-iron pan, combine the garlic, olive oil, aleppo pepper, and a generous pinch or two of sea salt. Then, put it on medium heat just until the garlic and pepper become fragrant and the oil is making tiny fizzing noises. Immediately toss in kale and continue cooking over medium heat, occasionally gently tossing the leaves through the hot oil, garlic, and aleppo pepper, until the kale is tender with a bit of chew, or about three minutes.

3. Sprinkle over the lemon zest, stirring to heat it gently in the oil, and then carefully tip over the hot oil-covered kale. Stir through, check for seasonings (add more aleppo pepper or salt if needed), and enjoy right away while still hot, or later at room temperature.

Note: this dish makes a great take-to-work lunch, in which case remove it from the refrigerator about twenty minutes before you wish to eat, to fully reawaken the flavors before enjoying.


Swanson, Heidi. “Chickpeas and Dandelion Greens.” Super Natural Every Day. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press, 2011 (69).


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§ 4 Responses to Chickpeas and kale with aleppo pepper

  • emmycooks says:

    This dish looks great and I love your reminder that allowing food to warm a bit “reawakens” its flavor. You should give dandelion greens another chance when you see them next, sauteed with tons of garlic or crisped (over very high heat) and chopped into whole wheat pasta with blue cheese. They are my favorite of all the assertive greens.

    • k.m. says:

      Those ideas sound great! I’ll definitely give them a try once the dandelion greens are in season; it’s probably just a bit too early yet.

  • Oh I’ve done something similar with spinach. Kale sounds better. This looks great.

    • k.m. says:

      I think if you were planning on eating it all in one go, then spinach would work well, but I agree, for keeping kale probably works better.

      And thanks!

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