Anything in red sauce tastes like comfort food – you heard it here first! Canned tomatoes are one of my must-have pantry staples because they can make the base of so many quick, crazy flavorful meals. Exhibit A? Tomato Braised Chickpeas with Preserved Lemon and Fresh Herbs. Here, canned chickpeas braise in crushed tomatoes with shallots, garlic, tomato paste, and preserved lemon for an extra punch of flavor. Once cooked, top this saucy dish with lots of fresh marjoram or oregano, and then spoon it over your favorite crusty bread. This recipe is easy enough for a weeknight and it’s endlessly adaptable. Check out the Riffs section underneath the recipe for simple swaps depending on what you have in the pantry or your dietary preferences. The basic gist is that tomatoes + any starchy base + lemon + herbs = absolutely delicious every time.
This dish can feed four people if served with bread. The longer it sits, the more flavorful becomes. I developed the recipe to come together in just under an hour, but if you have more time in the last step, turn the heat off after the chickpeas have simmered for 30 minutes and leave the pot on the stovetop with the lid on while you do dishes or watch a show. Serve while warm. I love to make this on Monday and enjoy leftovers for work-from-home lunches throughout the week – try it!
Tomato Braised Chickpeas with Preserved Lemon + Fresh Herbs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for serving
- 2 large shallots or 1 small red or yellow onion roughly chopped
- Kosher salt for seasoning
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2.5 tablespoons preserved lemon, diced (about 1/2 of 1 perserved lemon)
- 2 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Fresh marjoram for serving, or other soft fresh herb see notes under Riffs below
- Cracked black pepper and crushed red chili flakes for serving
- Crusty bread slices for serving 2 slices per person
- Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add shallot, season with kosher salt and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and the tomato paste and give everything a big stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the whole mixture starts to caramelize and turn a deep, bricky red color. Season generously with salt.
- Add crushed tomatoes and preserved lemon, stir everything around to deglaze the pan, season with kosher salt, and simmer on medium low heat for about 8 minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Add chickpeas, stir, and simmer on low heat with the lid on the pot, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Keeping the lid on is crucial in this step, as it traps the heat, which helps the chickpeas soften and absorb the flavors.
- When done, serve braised chickpeas into bowls, top with cracked black pepper, crushed red chili flakes, generous handfuls of fresh chopped marjoam. Spoon onto crusty, buttery bread.
- The Tomatoes: Canned crushed tomatoes provide sauciness with just enough texture. Whole peeled tomatoes in a can work as well, just break the tomatoes up with your hands or a wooden spoon before cooking down.
- The Preserved Lemon: Preserved lemon adds a crazy punch of flavor but it’s not always readily available at the store. Zest lemon on a Microplane grater and fold it into the crushed tomatoes or add an entire lemon peel when you add the tomatoes and remove it from the pan before serving.
- The Chickpeas: Sub in any cooked white bean in place of chickpeas.
- The Herbs: Fresh marjoram is totally underrated and it’s delicious with tomatoes. If you can’t find it I recommend fresh oregano, basil, chives, or parsley.
- The Additions: Have spinach or another leafy green on hand? Fold it in during the last few minutes of cooking — the heat of the braise will quickly wilt the greens down. Greens will release their moisture into the braise so you’ll want to taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.
- The Bread: This recipe is rounded out by serving it with crusty bread. I love a country loaf from our local bakery but toasted Dave’s Killer Bread is awesome here, and if you don’t have any bread on hand, try serving each bowl with a fried, poached, or soft boiled egg to add protein and richness. I’ve also added leftover roasted vegetables here and it works really nicely.