Recipe: Chickpea Bruschetta with Kale Almond Pesto

The word bruschetta (bru-sketta) refers to the charring/grilling of sliced bread, but we've come to associate tomato bruschetta as its only form since it is definitely the most popular variation. This chickpea bruschetta was inspired by the always anticipated amuse-bouche at Babbo in Manhattan. While I absolutely love this treat whenever I visit the restaurant, there is a bit of a situation with the chickpeas rolling off the bread. So, when I attempted to recreate it at home I used my kale almond pesto as a bit of an anchor to keep me from dropping chickpeas all over my floor. I love basil pesto, but wanted something a bit lighter and simpler for this dish since I don't want to overpower the chickpeas. 

For the pesto, all I have done is replaced basil with kale and pine nuts with almonds. I've also used much less olive oil and cheese in an effort to reduce the fat and calories as well as make the end result a bit thicker. 

chickpea-bruschetta.jpg

Ingredients:

1 baguette, ciabatta, or your favorite crusty bread
olive oil for brushing
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, to finish (or aged balsamic vinegar)
Fresh thyme, to finish

Chickpeas:
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, strained and rinsed
1/2 cup Ligurian olives (or Kalamata), roughly chopped
1 tbsp. good quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/2-1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
salt, to taste

Pesto:
4 cups loosely packed Tuscan kale (aka Lacinato or Dinosaur kale), stems trimmed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup blanched almonds, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or similar cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste

IMG_5873.jpg

Method:
If your baguette has a ton of holes and doesn't look like it'll hold toppings very well, the trick is to cut the entire baguette in half (separating the top from the bottom) and then go ahead and slice each side into rectangles, squares, triangles, or octagons, if you're feeling really fancy. See photo.

Preparing the bread really depends on what kind of equipment you have available to you. Ideally, you'd brush each slice with olive oil and place on a hot grill to achieve great char marks. If you don't have a grill, you can use a stovetop grill pan, toast in a skillet, or place all the slices on a sheet tray and toast in the oven until golden brown (400 degrees F for 10-15 min.). 

*If you love garlic as much as I do, rub the toasted bread slices with a clove of garlic while they're still hot. It adds an extra garlic punch to the finished product. 

Chickpeas:
1. Finely chop the olives or place them in a food processor and pulse until fine.

2. Make sure the chickpeas are well strained, since too much extra water will keep the olives from adhering to the chickpeas. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed.

Pesto:
1. Place kale, almonds, garlic, and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Make sure to wipe down the sides of the bowl, then turn the food processor back on and drizzle in the olive oil. 

2. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the cheese and freshly ground pepper. Different types of cheese will lend different amounts of salt, so add salt to taste. 

*Both the pesto and chickpea mixture can be made a day ahead. Keep in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped. Bring to room temperature before assembling bruschetta. 

To prepare the bruschetta:
Spread 1-2 tbsp. of pesto on each slice of bread and top with a spoonful of chickpeas. Garnish with fresh thyme and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. If you don't have lemon juice, you can drizzle a small amount of aged balsamic vinegar over the finished bruschetta. 

Makes 10-12. 

Chickpea and Olives

Chickpea and Olives

Kale-Almond Pesto

Kale-Almond Pesto

Subscribe here!
*all photos by Shauna Burke