The chickpea, or garbanzo, or ceci (if your Italian), is a delicious little legume that can be prepared hundreds of ways. It doesn’t matter what your favorite ethnic cuisine is, chances are you can work chickpeas into your favorite recipes for a little extra flavor, protein and fiber. Over the last decade, we’ve see it increase in popularity with restaurant and home chefs alike, mainly in the form of a delectable dip, hummus, that has gained popularity due to its flavor and flexibility. But the humble little chickpea is capable of so much more! They’re great in salads, curries, simmered in soups or made into falafel, a savory fritter with spices.
Chickpeas are healthy and a great source of protein and fiber, and many have embraced them as go-to in their pantry for just about everything. For people with dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free, dried chickpeas can be made into a delicious flour called gram which can be used in place of wheat flour in recipes and to thicken soups and sauces. Chickpeas also have a low glycemic index, which means they digest slowly and help regulate blood sugar, and they’re high in both soluble and insoluble fiber – great for your digestive tract. For your immune system, chickpeas are a great source of copper and zinc. Overall, adding them to your diet has numerous benefits, and it’s easy because they’re a great base for adding just about any flavor you can think of.
For salads and pasta, chickpeas add texture and a nutty creaminess. Their size makes them easy to just drop in a recipe – no chopping required. They work great in pasta salads or pasta entrees with small noodles like elbow, penne or orecchiette, or in chopped or marinated salads because they soak up flavor so well.
Chickpeas are also great for guilt-free snacking, and not just in the form of hummus. Roasting them is easy! Just follow these simple steps:
- Rinse and dry canned chickpeas.
- Toss them generously with olive oil.
- Roast at 400°F for 20-30 minutes until they’re crispy.
- Toss in your favorite spices – like rosemary, salt and pepper, garam masala, smoked paprika or hot chili powder. They soften as they cool, but they are just as tasty.
Toss on top of a salad or in a soup to add flavor. Be careful – they’re addictive!