The origin of chickling (also called chickling) is very ancient. The first documentation of chickling comes from ancient Babylon, more than 4000 years ago and subsequently spread to the Mediterranean basin. The Greeks called them, “lathiros”, while for the Romans, they were known as “cicercula”. In Italy, there were about twenty species cultivated in the central and south regions, but over time the production gradually decreased, almost disappearing at one point. Fortunately today, Farmers in some parts of central and southern Italy have re -discovered this ancient cultivation.
Chickling are much appreciated for their mild taste and for their hardiness. They are able to grow in any type of soil, even in the worst conditions, are resistant to drought and disease, and require no special care.
Chickling are rich in protein and starch. The proteins have a high organic value and there are almost no sugars present, so the glycemic index is extremely low. The chickling’ richness comes from their nourishing mineral components. There are high amounts of calcium and phosphorus, as well as B vitamins and polyphenols providing antioxidant activity.
How to use them:
Chickling are ideal for preparing rich soups, creams and toasted bread toppings or to best appreciate the traditional flavour of this legume, you can also enjoy them straight, with a little oil and a sprig of rosemary.
Basic recipe: after you have thoroughly cleaned and washed the peas, hulled chickling need about 2 hours of pre- soaking and 50-60 minutes to cook.
Chickling soup with Saffron
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 300 g chickling, 1 potato, 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stalk of celery, 1 clove of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, ½ cup milk, ½ packet of saffron
Cooking Instructions: cook the chickling according to the basic recipe. Meanwhile, prepare a vegetable soup: in 1 litre of water, boil the potato, onion, carrot, celery and garlic. When the chickling and vegetable broth are ready, drain the chickling from their water-getting rid of their cooking water, and drain the vegetables from the vegetable broth, conserving the broth. Now blend half of the chickling and the boiled vegetables in a mixer. Put the mixture in a pot (preferably terracotta), dissolve the saffron in the milk and add it to the mixture. Put it on low flame, stir with a wooden spoon, and add a sufficient amount of the vegetable stock to get a soup. Add the other half of chickling and boil for 5 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve in soup bowls adding a drizzle of oil and a slice of toasted bread.
Fillets of cod with chickling
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 200 g chickling, 600 g pre-soaked cod fillets, salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil, 10 g chives, bay leaves, garlic, rosemary.
Cooking instructions: cook the chickling according to the basic recipe, also adding two bay leaves into the water. When they are done, leave them in their cooking water. Clean the fillets of cod, also removing the skin, and cut them into quarters. Sautee the cod fillets in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and rosemary for a few minutes. In another pan, sautee the rosemary and garlic with some oil. After a few minutes, remove the garlic and add the chickling after they have been drained. Put the lid on and keep them warm. Serve in hot dishes, placing a piece of cod in the center of the dish, and the chickling all around it. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Tagliolini pasta with mushrooms and chickling
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 300 g pasta, 200 g chickling, 250 g mushrooms of your choice, garlic, a chili pepper, extra virgin olive oil, onion, parsley, a few cherry tomatoes, 2 slices of smoked bacon, salt
Cooking Instructions: cook the chickling with the onion, parsley, and celery according to the basic recipe, then pass it with the blender until it is a puree. Sautee the mushrooms with garlic, the cilli pepper, and half of the tomatoes. When they are almost ready, add small pieces of the lean bacon, and let it cook for a few minutes. Cook the pasta, drain it and mix it with the chickling and mushrooms. Finally, before serving add the other half of the tomatoes and the chopped parsley.
Chickling salad with celery pesto
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 300 g chickling, 1 shallot, 10-12 black olives, celery pesto (1 cup celery leaves, 30 g pine nuts, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 clove of garlic, juice from half a lemon), olive oil, ginger powder, coriander, salt.
Cooking Instructions: wash and chop the celery leaves with the garlic clove. Blend the pine nuts until you get almost a cream, adding a little lemon juice to help. Combine the chopped celery and garlic and blend them well all together, adding a tablespoon of oil and a little water until obtaining an even and smooth pesto. Meanwhile, cook the Chickling according to the basic recipe. Peel, wash and finely chop the scallions, pit the olives and cut them into small pieces. In a bowl, bring together the chickling, scallions and olives. Add some powdered ginger, coriander and a little salt if necessary. Mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of the celery pesto with the chickling, and season the salad with olive oil. Mix thoroughly. Let it sit in the refrigerator until ready to serve. If you prepare it the day before, it will better absorb the flavours.
Chickling topping for toasted bread
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 250 g hulled chickling, 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 cloves of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, toasted slices of rustic bread, pepper, 1 carrot, 1 onion, some celery
Cooking Instructions: boil a pint of water with a carrot, the onion and the celery, that have previously been washed, peeled and sliced. Fry the garlic in a little oil, when it starts to give off a nice aroma, take out the garlic and add the chickling – which have been previously soaked, and some rosemary. Add the broth gradually and cook over medium heat until the chickling begin to soften. Blend the carrot, onion and celery and then add them to the chickling. Cook over low heat for a few minutes. Leave the creamy mixture to cool, while you toast some slices of rustic bread. Serve the bread slices topped with grounded pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.