Chickpeas shine in the nutritional areas of fibre, protein and folate. A 3/4 cup serving of cooked chickpeas packs a 9 g fibre punch and a respectable 11 g of plant protein aolng with half a day's worth of folate (212 mcg), a B vitamin that keeps our DNA healthy.
Chickpeas also provide calcium, magnesium and iron.
Several dozen distinct chickpea varieties are cultivated. European varieties are large and most commonly pale yellow. The ones we find on our supermarket shelves are the European variety.
Other varieties with black and reddish seeds are rarely grown today. Asian varieties are smaller and dark brown in color.
Most of us buy our chickpeas canned and ready-to-use. When purchasing, be sure the can does not have any dents or bulges.
If you buy dried chickpeas in bulk or in bags, look for uniformly sized, evenly colored chickpeas. Check that they are not cracked or broken.
Canned chickpeas can be stored indefinitely. The dried version should be stored in a tightly closed container at cool room temperature. Use them within 6 months.
Leftover cooked chickpeas will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, stored in a tightly closed container. They can also be frozen although they will be somewhat mushy when thawed so plan to use them in dishes that don't require firm, whole chickpeas such as dips.
Canned chickpeas are very convenient and require only a quick rinse under cool running water to remove gas-producing carbohydrate and sodium. Drain and they are ready to use. If they're going into a salad or dip, they don't need to be heated at all. For other recipes such as soups or stews, plan to cook them for as short a time as possible, just enough to heat them through.
Dried chickpeas need to be soaked and cooked so that they soften up. Cooked dried chickpeas are firmer and more flavorful than canned. Here's is a tasty way to prepare them:
|dried chickpeas, picked over for debris, dirt or damaged peas
|small onion, halved
|sprigs fresh thyme
1. In a 3-quart saucepan, boil chickpeas in water to cover by 2 inches, covered for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let chickpeas stand, covered, for 1 hour.
2. Drain chickpeas and return to pan. Add water to cover by 4 inches, onion, and thyme and simmer, uncovered, until chickpeas are tender, about 1 1/2 hours, adding salt during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
3. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Stir occasionally during cooking. The chickpeas are done when they can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife.
4. Drain chickpeas and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Slip skins from chickpeas by rubbing them with your fingers, then drain well. Chickpeas can be prepared up to 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Makes about 5 cups.
As they are so mildly flavored, chickpeas can be added to all sorts of recipes including salads, soups, dips, and pasta or grain dishes. They can be cooked in stews, ground into flours and used in baked goods, ground and shaped in balls and fried (falafel), cooked and ground into a paste called hummus, or roasted and spiced and eaten as a snack.
Hummus with Yogurt and Lemon
In this modified version of the Middle Eastern chickpea dip, yogurt is used to replace some of the high-fat tahini (sesame seed paste). The dip is great with fresh vegetables or toasted pita bread wedges.
2 large garlic cloves1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained2 tbsp plain nonfat yogurt2 tbsp tahini2 tbsp fresh lemon juice1 tsp ground cumin
1. Mince garlic in food processor. Add chickpeas, yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and cumin; blend until coarse puree forms, occasionally scraping down sides of work bowl. Season hummus to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Transfer to a small bowl and serve. Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
3. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Chickpeas
- Look for recipes for muffins and quick breads that use chickpea flour. Click here for a recipe.
- Add chickpeas to egg dishes such as scrambled eggs or omelets.
- Use hummus as a spread for breakfast sandwiches or wraps.
- Toss a handful of canned chickpeas into your green, pasta or bean salad. Click here for a recipe.
- Add chickpeas to canned or homemade soup. Click here for a recipe.
- Spread wraps with chickpea purée or hummus before filling.
- Chickpeas make a hearty addition to baked beans and other hot lunch dishes.
- Cook chickpeas in grain dishes such as quinoa or couscous or in casseroles.
- Pair chickpeas with roasted vegetables for a healthy side dish.
- Chickpeas are a fibreful addition to chili and stews.
- When serving Mexican dishes such as quesadillas or tacos, don't forget to add some chickpeas.
- Pair chickpeas with grilled meats and fish.
- Add cooked chickpeas to mashed potatoes or other puréed vegetables such as squashes.
- Hummus (chickpea dip) served with baked pita triangles or raw veggies make a tasty and nutritious snack anytime of the day. Click here for a recipe.
- Try the recipe for Chickpea Cookies.
- Look for roasted or spiced chickpeas at your local natural foods store
FYI: Chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans. For More Information: