Inspired by a recipe for a warm Panzanella salad with tomatoes, this dish swaps out the bread cubes for chickpeas and adds some creamy salty feta. If you like, serve it with olive oil-crisped bread on the side.
You need juicy tomatoes here to create a broth, which is why heirloom ones are suggested, but feels free to add a handful of cherry tomatoes to the mix, too—the different colors and shapes make it even more appetizing.
I like the brine-soaking method for cooking beans and legumes, but feel free to cook your chickpeas however you like, or to two 15-ounce cans instead.
1 pound dry chickpeas, picked over and rinsed
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Few sprigs thyme
Half an onion
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
4 cups cooked chickpeas (see above or use two 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained)
1 cup diced red onion
4 cups diced heirloom tomatoes
3 tablespoons vinegar, white balsamic or red wine, or whatever you have on hand
1 bunch basil (about a cup of leaves), roughly chopped
1 tablespoon capers
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, and freshly cracked pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled good-quality feta
Crusty bread slices, optional, toasted or grilled, and brushed with olive oil, for serving.
To cook the chickpeas:
Dissolve the 3 tablespoons of salt into a large bowl of water (your largest mixing bowl, or about 4 quarts of water). Add the chickpeas and soak for 8 to 24 hours. Drain, and place in a pot with the onion, thyme, and remaining teaspoon of salt. Cover with water by three inches. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook at the gentlest simmer for about an hour or until the chickpeas are cooked through. Let chickpeas cool in their cooking liquid. Discard thyme sprigs and onion. Store chickpeas in their cooking liquid.
To make the stewy chickpeas:
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the 4 cups cooked chickpeas and 1 teaspoon sea salt and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until heated through.
Lower the heat to medium-low, add the red onion, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute or until they begin to break down. Add the vinegar, capers, and basil, and toss to coat. Season with pepper to taste. Turn off the heat. Crumble the feta over top and toss to coat. Taste, and add more salt, pepper, capers, or feta to taste.