Let’s Chat about Chickpeas

Let’s Chat about Chickpeas


by Cathe Olson

Have you eaten any chickpeas lately? Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have a nutty taste and a creamy texture. They’re an excellent source of vegetarian protein and supply most minerals including calcium, iron, and zinc. They’re also high in fiber and low in fat.

Chickpeas are most mostly grown in the Mediterranean, western Asia, Pakistan, and India which explains why they are so common in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. They’re very versatile and can be added to soups, salads, purred into dips or made into falafel patties. The flour can be used for savory gravies , incorporated into a gluten-free flour mix, or used to make delicious French Toast 

Chickpeas are easy to prepare. They have a long cooking time but there is really no work involved. I like to cook up a big batch and freeze them in 2 cup size containers (approximately the amount found in a can). Canned chickpeas are fine as well. Just be sure to rinse off the canning liquid as it is very high in sodium. 

How to Cook Chickpeas

  • Sift through the beans. Pick out damaged beans, pebbles, and other debris.
  • Soak beans in large bowl or pot with at least three times their volume of water for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to cook, pick out any floating beans and drain soak water. Place beans in a heavy bottomed pot with fresh water (about 4 cups water per 1 cup unsoaked beans).
  • Bring uncovered beans to boil over high heat. Turn heat to lowest setting. Cover pot and simmer for about 2 hours, or until beans are tender. Stir as little as possible so beans do not become mushy. Do not add salt or seasonings until beans become tender. Salt, sugar, fat, and acidic foods prevent beans from softening.

Here are a few recipes to try: 

Chickpea Salad with Creamy Mint Dressing
This salad will keep in the refrigerator for several days and is perfect for a lunch or snack. It’s delicious stuffed in a pita pocket or wrapped in a tortilla too.

  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley

Creamy Mint Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon light miso
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 small lemon)
  • 1/4 cup bean cooking water or plain water
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh peppermint leaves

Place garbanzo beans, carrot, brown rice, and parsley in large bowl. Puree dressing ingredients together in blender. Pour over salad and toss until evenly coated. Chill at least one hour before serving. 

Makes 6 servings 

Garbanzo Stew
This hearty, vegetarian stew supplies a lot of iron.

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 4 to 5 red potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • 2 tomatoes, diced or 1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup chopped green cabbage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 cup water

In large pot over medium heat, sauté bay leaf and onion in olive oil about 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add garlic, potatoes, carrots, celery, and sauté 5 minutes longer. Add water or stock and sea salt. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Add garbanzo beans, tomatoes, cabbage, cumin, and turmeric. In small bowl, combine miso, tahini, and arrowroot with 1/4 cup water to form a smooth paste. Stir it into stew and heat for 5 minutes, or until broth thickens. Do not boil as this will destroy the beneficial enzymes in the miso. Remove bay leaf. 

Makes 6 servings 

Garbanzo Crunchies
Even nonbean-lovers will like this nutritious snack. These are best eaten the day they are made. 

  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, well drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Paprika or chili powder to taste

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Toss garbanzo beans with olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle sea salt and spice over beans. Bake 30 minutes or until golden. Eat warm or at room temperature. 

Makes 2 cups 

Cathe Olson

Author: Cathe Olson

Cathe Olson is the author of the new nondairy ice cream cookbook: Lick It! Cream Dreamy Vegan Ice Cream Your Mouth Will Love, as well as Simply Natural Baby Food and The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook. Visit Cathe’s blog at http://catheolson.blogspot.com.

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