RECIPE: Crispy chickpeas and lamb with greens and garlicky yogurt

Alison Roman having people over for food. Photographs copyright © 2019 by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott.

Recipe reprinted with permission from “Dining In” by Alison Roman.

Serves four.

When I was little, I would eat chickpeas out of the can, unrinsed and unseasoned. In college, when a salad bar was my main source of sustenance, my “salad” was generally just a bowl of chickpeas covered in Italian dressing. (Ew, right? But let’s be honest, I probably still would eat that.) Now I eat them cooked in lots of olive oil with thinly sliced cloves of garlic until they’re golden brown and crispy. Often, I just toss them with greens and top them with a fried egg, but when I want ground meat, I’ll turn the chickpeas into a legitimate dinner with crispy spiced lamb and garlicky yogurt.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Chickpeas and lamb ingredients

1 large or 2 small bunches Swiss chard, mustard greens, or kale

6 tablespoons olive oil

12 ounces ground lamb

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Fresh tomatoes, quartered, or Olive Oil–Roasted Tomatoes (page 38), for serving

Garlicky yogurt ingredients

1 cup full-fat or 2 percent Greek yogurt

1 garlic clove, finely grated

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Note: I’ve tried to cheat the amount of olive oil here, always astonished that I’d need that much to get the chick­peas to be truly delicious, but it’s true. With too little oil, they’ll burn before they crisp and become soggy rather than crunchy.

Do ahead: Garlicy yogurt can be made 5 days ahead and refrigerated; just know the garlic flavor will intensify.

Make the yogurt sauce: Combine the yogurt, garlic, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside.

Make the chickpeas and lamb: Separate the leaves and stems from your greens, then thinly slice the stems and tear the leaves into 2-inch-ish pieces and set aside.

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb, garlic, and cumin, and season with salt and black pepper.
  2. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, break up the lamb as it cooks until it’s browned and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes (the lamb will not be rare here; that’s more than okay because it will be crispy, and in times like these, crispy is better than rare). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a bowl, leaving the drippings behind.
  3. Combine the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, the chickpeas, and red pepper flakes in the skillet with the lamby drippings and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, shaking the skillet occasionally, until the chickpeas are very well browned and starting to crisp up, 8 to 10 minutes. Return the lamb to the skillet and toss with the other ingredients, letting everything mingle together. Remove from heat and transfer to a large serving bowl, leaving anything in the skillet behind (you’re not done with that skillet).
  4. Add the chopped stems to the skillet and season with salt and black pepper. Cook a minute or two, just to soften slightly; they should stay pretty crunchy and fresh. Add the leaves and toss to coat until just wilted, 30 seconds or so. Season with salt and black pepper, if needed.
  5. To assemble a very lovely dinner bowl, smear yogurt sauce onto the bottoms of four bowls and top with the chickpea and lamb mixture, sautéed greens, and tomatoes.

Related Stories