What are the building blocks of an easy, inexpensive meal? For staff writer Kendra Vaculin, nothing does the trick quite like Eggs and a Can. Follow this series for her mealtime moves based around that simple, versatile formula—and all the directions it can go.
Buckle up, because I’m about to express a strong feeling: To me, an omelet is restaurant food, and I can’t be convinced to make one at home. I’m not just talking about the fussy French versions, either—even the loaded, cheesy, diner-style variety are a bridge too far when I’m in my own kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, omelets are wonderful, and if given the opportunity I will almost always order one. But when eggs and extras are on the menu and I’m the one standing at the stove, it’s usually because I need dinner in a hurry, and a tricky method is that last thing I’m looking to try. Instead, in those moments, what I’m making is a scramble.
A scramble is hot, fast, and a little inelegant—a vibe that I respect. It is, if possible, a meal completely devoid of technique, which makes it the polar opposite of an omelet; it requires only that you add everything to a pan and stir until the eggs are cooked. Scrambles serve me just as well now as they did in college, when cooking the miscellaneous contents of my fridge all together felt like a culinary triumph. Now I’m able to be a bit more tactical about what makes it into my scramble, considering flavor and texture for the best possible results. My go-to combination recently involves a can of crisped chickpeas and a serious sprinkling of warm, golden-yellow vadouvan.
I keep a few store-bought spice blends on hand at all times, like Mexican Adobo from Rumi and NY Shuk’s Baharat, but vadouvan is one mix I prefer to make myself. A French spice blend inspired by South Indian masala, vadouvan often includes shallots and curry leaves, but I stick to garlic powder, onion powder, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and mustard seeds. Keeping a container in my pantry is a mealtime secret weapon, as it adds amazing flavor to roasted vegetables, meat and seafood, or when cooked into rice.
(One thing to note: Whether you’re buying pre-mixed spice blends or making your own at home, make sure your mix doesn’t contain salt. Keeping spice and salt adjustments separate means you have more control over both, and can easily dial in on the exact flavor you’re looking for.)
To make this spiced chickpea scramble, first heat a serious glug of olive oil over medium-high in a large, nonstick pan. Once the oil is hot, add a can of drained, rinsed, and patted-dry chickpeas; the drying may seem excessive, but by eliminating any excess moisture, you ensure that the chickpeas brown and crisp in the pan, rather than steam. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally and mashing some chickpeas with the back of your spoon or rubber spatula, until they’re golden-brown in parts, about five minutes. You don’t want hummus, just some broken up chickpieces™ here and there. Sprinkle a tablespoon of vadouvan over the top and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until well coated and toasted, about two more minutes.
Accessorize your scramble with whatever you have; I like seasoned cucumbers, yogurt, and herbs.
Next, reduce the heat to medium and pour in your eggs, already well beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper. My move is three eggs; it makes for a good bean-to-egg ratio, and yields enough total scramble to easily serve two people. Stir constantly, coating the chickpeas with the eggs as they cook, until just set, about a minute or two.
Accessorize your finished scramble however you like. My favorite way is with a big scoop of yogurt and torn herbs like mint or cilantro; if I’m feeling fancy (and have the goods in the fridge), I’ll chop up a cucumber, dress it in a splash of rice vinegar, and spoon that on the side, for a fresh and crunchy counterpart.
I cannot count the number of times this chickpea scramble has come to my rescue in moments of hunger-induced indecision. Because eggs are a constant in my fridge and I’ve always got a can of chickpeas in the pantry, it’s a sure bet any night of the week, provided I have a batch of vadouvan ready. But the truth is many different spice mixes would work just as well, like sesame seed-studded za’atar or a shawarma-style blend. Experiment with what you’ve got the next time eggs and a can are what’s for dinner—even (I hate to say it) if you go the omelet route.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious