Canned chickpeas are an inexpensive and versatile pantry staple-and a surprisingly delicious starter when deep-fried and tossed in seasoned oil. That’s how they’re served at Del Toro(1520 N. Damen Ave.; 773-252-1500), where chef Andrew Zimmerman uses a ground-rice coating for extra crispness. The restaurant goes through 25 to 30 pounds of chickpeas a day on the weekends. “They’re pretty popular,” he says.

Andrew Zimmerman’s Crispy Fried Chickpeas (Serves 6)

For the rice coating:

  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

(1) Combine ingredients in a blender and grind to a powder.
(2) Set aside.

(This will make more coating than you need. The extra will keep for several weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator.)

For the chickpeas:

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups buttermilk, to cover
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 sage leaves, chopped
  • Zest of half a lemon, chopped
  • Zest of half an orange, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Sea salt


(1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees
(2) Soak the chickpeas in buttermilk for about an hour. Then, drain.
(3) In a large sauce pot, heat 3 inches of vegetable oil to about 350 degrees.
(4) Toss the chickpeas with the rice mixture to coat. Shake off excess.
(5) Deep-fry the chickpeas in batches until they just start to take on color, a very light brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon to a cookie tray lined with paper towels. Keep warm in the oven while you fry the rest.
(6) In a skillet large enough to hold all the fried chickpeas, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the sliced garlic, chili flakes, sage, and citrus zest. Allow the garlic to sizzle for a couple of minutes, but don’t let it brown.
(7) Toss the chickpeas in the flavored oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve warm.

For an interview with Andrew Zimmerman, see “Chefs on the Grill,”

Photograph: Tylllie Barbosa