Chickpea Spread or French poichichade - Hummous from Provence

A Taste of Provence with Chickpea Spread

This view is from my parents-in-law’s house in the Luberon, the heart of Provence. It has always been special, whatever time of year; as in this picture, even if the pretty lavender from the fields has been harvested in August, watching the smoke rise from the distillery’s chimney down below conjures up all sorts of ideas as to what uses we have with lavender oil. (Which reminds me, I must share a lovely lavender cream recipe with you next.)

But today we’re going savoury for a change and thinking of the French’s favourite time before dinner: the apéritif. And as we’re heading to Provence this weekend to see good friends, I’m “spreading” the holiday mood with you and opening the rosé wine.

View from Saignon in Provence

This winding road takes us from Saignon to Apt, a popular Provençal market town. On summer Saturdays it transforms from sleepy town into a giant beehive of swarming tourists amongst the locals in every street and hidden nook and cranny, as we dodge past the buskers and look for the best olives, tapenade, honey, vegetables, cheeses and garlic, to name a few.

When we shop at the market, my Corsican mother-in-law and I have very different items in our shopping baskets. One of them is she doesn’t use much garlic and heaven forbid if I add any raw garlic if she is to join us. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles at her place.

garlic at the Provencal market of Apt

Ail, ail, ail!

I also love stocking up on good olive oil. Here is one of the popular olive market stalls.  Just be aware of scams. There are stands that exist that don’t sell the genuine article so ensure that you look for the quality label, AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée) on decanted 3-5 litre plastic containers.

Olive stand at the market in Apt Provence

On the other hand, our good friends adore garlic and the local specialities. So when they invited us for lunch “up the road”- passing the villages of Rousillon and Bonnieux – we knew it would be a Provençal treat. Valérie is the most wonderful cook. Her recipes are not only eleven out of ten on the tasty scale but they are above all simple, using the freshest of good quality local ingredients. This means there’s just enough time to have a dip in the pool.

Provence swimming pool with olive trees

As the chilled rosé is opened before the meal, Valérie produces something different each time. Last time she brought out Poichichade (pron: pwah-sheesh-ad).  It’s rather like Lebanese-style Hummous or Humus.  In Provence it’s served as an apéritif accompanied by fresh toasted thin slices of baguette and fresh crudités or vegetable sticks. Not only was it rather addictive, but it also contained a good punch of garlic, using both cooked garlic and just one fresh clove at the end to give it that touch of Provence!

Julie and Lucie were itching to make it so much as soon as our return last time, I didn’t even have time to run out and get dried chick peas!  Dare I even say it?  We used handy tinned/canned chick peas (pois chiches).  I took a quick photo of it and although it was good (and er, yellower), it wasn’t a patch on Valérie’s.  I added some parsley to make up for the different texture, even if the garlic packed a punch.  What was wrong?  We should have taken the time to soak dried chick peas.  It’s far creamier and smooth.

Apologies for this photo.  I did it quickly, as the heat was so intense last night that I didn’t manage to do a photo staging: instead just helped myself to a glass of chilled rosé and had a taste before anyone came home!

Chickpea spread or French poichichade

La Poichichade – Provençal Chickpea Spread

Thanks to Valérie for the recipe. Please do use dried chickpeas and not the ones in tins: believe me, the taste is completely different.  The hardest part is just remembering to soak them in advance!

Pre-soaking time: 12 hours (or overnight)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Cooling/Chilling time:  30 minutes

250g dried chickpeas (soaked overnight in water)
1 tsp sodium bicarbonate
3 + 1 cloves garlic, peeled
bay leaf
Juice of a lemon
1 tsp tahini paste (optional)
3 tbsps olive oil
salt & pepper

1.  Leave the dried chickpeas to soak overnight in water.  Next day, rinse well and transfer to a heavy based pan.  Add enough water just to cover the chickpeas and add a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (this makes them easy to digest).  Add 3 large cloves of garlic and the bay leaf.  Cover and cook over a low-medium heat for 45 minutes.

2.  When cooked, drain the chickpeas and garlic, discard the bay leaf, and leave to cool for 15 minutes.

3.  Mix the chickpeas using a hand blender or mixer with the rest of the ingredients (adding the extra clove of garlic – or even more to your taste but beware – could be potent!), dribbling in the olive oil gradually until you have a good dipping consistency.  Chill for about 15 minutes.

Serve topped with a sprinkling of more olive oil and why not a touch of paprika or fresh parsley?  Serve with slices of good baguette, radishes, cucumber and carrots. Oh and chilled rosé, but of course …

Chickpea Spread or French poichichade - Hummous from Provence

Well I’m off to pack. I wonder what Provençal recipes I can return with this time?  Let me leave you with a view of last year’s fireworks display for Bastille Day celebrations on 14th July.

Wishing you all a wonderful long Bastille weekend from a hot and sunny Paris. Cheers!  See you in the South on Instagram.

Fireworks-Paris-Bastille-Day

9 replies
  1. Lady Angel
    Lady Angel says:

    I half hate you, half love you for introducing this chickpea spread into my life. It’s so addictive. Made it once, twice, three times and love the consistency and just enough garlic!

    Reply
  2. Christina @ Christina's Cucina
    Christina @ Christina's Cucina says:

    That garlic is simply stunning! I wouldn’t be able to hold myself back from buying loads of it! Most of the garlic I buy here is dry and old, but when I can get to Gilroy (Garlic Capital of the World) at the right time of year, it is FANTASTIC! I’d love to be there right now!

    Reply
  3. David
    David says:

    Your mother-in-law and I would get along perfectly, as I am allergic to garlic! However, if I made this poichichade with a little truffle oil, it might work! I love Apéritifs and I wish we would adopt the practice more in the U.S.

    Reply
    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      I adore apéritifs, David. Cheers to you and to the idea of truffle oil in place of garlic. Sounds interesting. I would try it with smoked paprika if you’re allergic to garlic or add plenty of fresh herbs. Cheers!

      Reply
  4. Jean-Pierre D
    Jean-Pierre D says:

    Love hummus but never actually made it. Sounds easy so might just try. Thanks for the tip on the dried chickpeas. Bon weekend Jill!

    Reply

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