Slow-Roasted Chickpeas in Tomato-Onion Sauce
from Kalymnos (Revithia tou Fournou)
Recipe by Antonio Makrynakis, Antonio's Greek Bakery and Café
6 cups thinly sliced onions (2-3 large onions)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 6-oz can tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
4 15-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained (6 cups cooked)
1 large bay leaf
2 6" rosemary stalks
2-3 cups water
"Revithia tou Fournou is a special Kalymnian dish. My grandfather baked it, my father baked it, I bake it," says Tony. Kalymnian "ladies brought uncooked Revithia to our bakery on Saturday night, labeled with their name so we could tell one from the other. We baked all the pots of Revithia overnight. After church on Sunday, the ladies came back to the bakery, picked up finished Revithia, and served it for Sunday dinner." Tony says "lots and lots of onions" are the secret of Kalymnian Revithia. When it's done, the onions float to the top and form a crusty topping – "the best part," says Tony. If the topping gets too brown while baking, loosely cover the pot with foil for its remaining time in the oven. Tony's Revithia takes minutes to mix, and may be baked overnight in the oven or in a slow cooker. Revithia cooked overnight and refrigerated during the day needs only to be reheated for an easy evening dinner.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
In a 6-quart ovenproof pot, mix onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, tomato paste, sugar, chickpeas, bay leaf, rosemary, and 2 cups water. The water should be 3/4” higher than the chickpeas; if it isn’t, add more water. Stir to thoroughly combine ingredients.
Put uncovered pot in preheated oven and bake for 6-8 hours. Check chickpeas every so often and add more water if sauce is too dry; don’t add so much water that sauce is soupy. If topping is getting too brown, loosely cover with aluminum foil for remaining cooking time. Chickpeas are done when sauce is rich, thick and no longer runny. Taste and add salt or freshly ground pepper, as needed.
Serve immediately or at room temperature with crusty bread and a fresh green salad.