I made Oil-Poached Chickpea Crostini with Grilled Radicchio. It’s got a complicated name I’ll admit, but that’s because I put quite a bit of thought into this appetizer. After all, the plan was to share this little bite at a virtual cocktail party with some friends in New York.
As with a pre-apocalypse cocktail party, it still takes a bit of thought to pull off a group hang via ZOOM, but the rewards are worth the effort.
My local LA-based friends and I have a standing 6‑pm-on-Friday chat scheduled. There’s always an “Oh wow, I didn’t know how much I needed that” message afterward from someone in the group. It’s nice to know we can still be there for our friends, but it’s also funny how the group dynamics aren’t that different than when we’d meet in person. There’s always that friend who likes to hear themself talk, and of course, the quiet one you try to draw into the conversation. Still, there are differences too. I’ve never put any thought into the lighting when I’m meeting friends at a bar. ZOOM cocktail parties are best when there’s a lot of nice gentle light.
There’s a reason I put a lot of thought into this appetizer. You see this New York virtual cocktail party was more than just an excuse to share a drink with good friends. There was a culinary challenge attached. Each party-goer had to present an appetizer and cocktail made from a single can of chickpeas. I used the slimy liquid in the can as a stand-in for egg whites and made a gin fizz. It sounds gross but that stuff in the can, known as aquafaba, is a well-documented vegan liquid protein. I swear you can make meringue cookies or pavlova out of the stuff.
Oil-Poached Chickpea Crostini with Grilled Radicchio
The appetizer presented more of a challenge.
I spent a week thinking about this cocktail party and particularly the appetizer I would serve with the remaining chickpeas in my can. I’m fond of open-faced sandwiches so I started there. Here’s what I came up with: I poached the chickpeas in olive oil with a ton of whole garlic cloves. Then I mashed them and served them crostini-style with grilled radicchio.
The oil-poached chickpeas served on this crostini are rich and luxurious. It only takes a dollop to compliment the slightly bitter bite of grilled radicchio. It seemed like a solid plan. But I felt something was missing and that was the zing! I fixed that little problem with an unexpected drizzle of sweet pomegranate molasses.
I finally had an appetizer and cocktail I could proudly present to my friends. A way to make us all feel a little less alone.
In these times of isolation, we need to try to stay as connected as possible. It takes a little bit of planning, but bringing a group dynamic back to your life is something that can provide an extra bit of joy when your days seem to stretch out with no end in sight. GREG