The oil-poached chickpeas served on this crostini are rich and luxurious. It only takes a dollop to compliment the slightly bitter bite of seared radicchio. The unexpected drizzle of sweet pomegranate molasses takes this little appetizer to the next level.
- ½ cup (plus 2 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
- 10 clove garlic (peeled but left whole)
- 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- 2 tablespoon water (or more as needed)
- 1–2 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning)
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 6 large outer radicchio leaves
- 12 slice toasted baguette (sliced on a diagonal to create more surface)
- finishing quality extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
- pomegranate molasses (for drizzling)
- minced fresh chives (as garnish)
- coarsely cracked black pepper (as garnish)
To prepare the chickpeas: Heat ½ cup olive oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. Don’t be tempted to get the oil hot quickly. Use a simmer plate if you have one. You’ll know it’s hot enough when tiny bubbles appear but the oil does not bubble aggressively. When this happens, add the garlic cloves (they may bubble slightly but it should not sizzle); cook over very low heat, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in the rinsed chickpeas making sure to coat them well in the oil. Add two tablespoons water and a pinch or two crushed red pepper flakes. Bring the mixture back to a very low simmer and allow the chickpeas to gently poach (not fry) in the oil for another 15 or 20 minutes. They should be quite soft and become richer in color. Stir them often being careful not to let the pan dry out or stick; add a splash of water if necessary.
Transfer the chickpeas, garlic, and all the liquid to a bowl along with the salt and white pepper. Use an immersion blender or elbow grease and a fork to mash the mixture until fairly smooth. You may need a splash of olive oil or water to achieve the right “mashed potato” consistency. Set aside, it will firm up some as it cools.
To prepare the radicchio: In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and sherry vinegar; season lightly with salt. Add the radicchio leaves and massage the marinade into the leaves. Set aside for at least 15 minutes and up to several hours.
Assemble the crostini: Preheat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over high heat. Place the radicchio leaves in the pan and cook for 1 minute or so, turning occasionally until caramelized in places but not crisp. Do not crowd the pan work in batches if necessary. Set the leaves aside on a plate as they finish cooking.
Lay the toasted baguette slices on a work surface. Rip each radicchio leaf in half and drape each half onto a slice of toast. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the mashed chickpea mixture onto each slice of toast leaving the edges of the radicchio visible. Make a little divot in the center to catch the dribbles and garnishes.
Carefully move the topped toasts to a serving plate and drizzle each toast with finishing quality extra-virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Garnish with chives and black pepper then serve.