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  • Writer's pictureMatt Felsenfeld

Chickpea "Pancetta"


1 29oz can chickpeas, drained, washed, and dried

1 tbsp fennel seed, toasted and crushed in a spice mill, mortar and pestle, or the back of a frying pan.

1 tbsp black peppercorn, toasted and crushed in a spice mill, mortar and pestle, or the back of a frying pan.

2 tsp red chili flakes

½ cup olive oil

Salt, to taste

Notes before you begin:

  • This dish is meant to stand in for pancetta or a cured meat. We are using some of the spices that are traditionally used in curing pork belly with the hopes of emulating their flavors in the dish. Pancetta — cured pork belly — is packed with two things: Salt and fat. Thus we will be using a lot of salt and fat here in the form of olive oil and kosher salt.


  1. Drain and wash the chickpeas, rinsing them under cold water. Pour them into a bowl and pat dry. Set aside.

  2. Combine the peppercorn and fennel seed in a dry pan over medium-high heat and move the spices around for approximately 10 minutes. They will begin to become fragrant and a little brown. By toasting the spices, you are going to greatly deepen their flavor. Once toasted, using a spice grinder, mortar and pestle, or using the back of a frying pan, crush them until they are a rough powder. There should be a good mix of finer and coarser pieces. Toss in the red chili flakes and set aside.

  3. Pour the olive oil over the chickpeas, gently stirring and making sure everything is covered. Sprinkle on the spice mixture and continue stirring. Once thoroughly combined, add salt to taste. Remember, pancetta is normally very salty, so you should add a fair bit here. I usually go for three or four hefty pinches.

  4. Cover and let sit overnight in the fridge. The flavors will deepen the longer you let it sit. Use this in pastas, toast them in the oven, or toss them on salads. Enjoy!

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