One of the greatest advantages of chickpeas is their incredible versatility.
You can do just about anything with them! From light meals to main courses, from savoury to sweet, chickpeas are able to satisfy both meat and vegan palates equally, because they’re just so naturally nourishing.
Chickpeas are a perfect match for any meal
Chickpeas are an excellent plant-based protein source that can enhance the flavours and textures of a huge range of cuisines:
- Use chickpeas as a snack, such as falafel or hummus. Crispy roasted chickpeas make a great protein-packed vegan snack, which you can mix up with a spicy seasoning such as chilli powder, smoked paprika, ground turmeric and cumin, or mix and match other spices to suit your taste.
- Use them as a side dish, such as a chickpea salad or chickpea patties (which you could also upsize into a vegetarian or vegan burger). Mashed chickpeas, combined with herbs, spices, and other vegetables, create a flavourful and protein-loaded patty. These can be grilled, baked or pan-fried and served in a bun or with a side salad.
- Put the spotlight firmly on chickpeas as a main course, such as curries and pastas. Chickpeas are commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern chickpea curries and chickpea stews. They absorb the flavours of the spices and sauces beautifully, adding extra depth and richness to the dish.
You can also simmer your chickpeas in a tomato and onion sauce, combined with garden vegetables and aromatic spices for a hearty meal that satisfies even the largest of appetites.
- Why not serve chickpeas as a dessert, too? The mild taste of chickpeas allows them to pair well with sweet ingredients like chocolate, honey, or maple syrup.
Whip up some chocolate chickpea brownies or chickpea blondies. Or for something a little faster, chickpea cookies or chickpea pancakes always go down well. Another great approach is to blend your chickpeas into a smooth batter and use them as a base for gluten-free and vegan desserts.
Chickpeas are just as healthy as they are tasty
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans or Bengal grams, grow as an annual plant in the pea family, widely grown for its nutritious seeds. Together with garden peas and beans, chickpeas are actually legumes. Technically, a chickpea is a pulse, being the edible seed within the pod of a legume plant.
Chickpeas are a naturally healthy food, high in fibre, protein, and healthy fats, with a low GI. They are said to help control blood sugar, manage weight control by keeping you fuller for longer, and support general heart and gut health. Chickpeas are also low-glycemic carbohydrates and full of inflammation-fighting nutrients.
Both canned and dried chickpeas are nutritious. Chickpeas are budget-friendly, but dried can often be less expensive and also more flavourful than canned. If using the canned variety, make sure you choose those labelled as “no salt added” or “low in sodium”. Also be sure to drain and rinse them well in cold water to make them easier to digest and less gas-producing.
Don’t let the aquafaba go to waste
The liquid in canned chickpeas is known as aquafaba, which can be used as an egg replacement in recipes.
This isn’t just a healthy alternative to eggs, but it is also vegan-friendly and valuable to people who have an egg allergy.
Because aquafaba acts like egg white, it can be used as a substitute in recipes for meringues, cakes, marshmallows and mousses. Two tablespoons of aquafaba will replace one large egg white.
How to store your leftover chickpeas
Keep your chickpeas fresh to have them on hand quickly and easily for future dishes. There are a few ways to store them that will maintain their original flavour and texture:
- Room temperature storage: For short-term storage up to 6 months, just transfer your dried chickpeas to an airtight container (a glass jar or zip top bag) and keep them a cool cupboard or pantry, out of direct sunlight. You want to make sure that the chickpeas are completely dry to prevent moisture from building up, which can easily cause them to go mouldy.
- Freezing chickpeas: If you’re looking to store your chickpeas for up to 8 months, freezing is a quick and easy option. After cooking or soaking your chickpeas, let them cool completely before transferring to an airtight container or freezer bag. Don’t forget to label them with the date to keep an eye on their freshness.
- Canning chickpeas: If you need to store chickpeas up to 1-2 years, then canning is the most effective choice. Chickpeas can actually last up to 5 years when canning, but at that point the flavour and texture may be quite different.
Pressure canning is the best method for safe storage over a long period. Cook your chickpeas until they’re tender, then transfer into sterilized glass jars and cover fill the jars with brine or the water you cooked the chickpeas in.
As always when storing food, make sure you check for any signs of the chickpeas discolouring or turning mouldy, or smelling rancid or ‘off’. It’s never worth taking chances and you can always make another batch, completely fresh or for storage.
On today’s menu: a chickpea salad and chickpea salad sandwich
Now let’s get down to two of my quickest and tastiest chickpea recipes.
The chickpea salad is a weekday, weekend, picnic, dinner party staple. Everyone usually grabs at least two spoonfuls.
The chickpea salad sandwich is a magical way to turn leftovers into a completely different meal the day after. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start there too, if you’re looking for a finger-friendly way to enjoy the unique taste and texture of chickpeas.
- 1 can chickpeas drained, rinsed
- 1½ cups cherry or grape tomatoes halved
- 1 English Cucumber halved and sliced
- ½ medium red onion thinly sliced
- 1 avocado sliced
- ¼ cup coriander chopped
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
- salt and black pepper to taste
- In a small bowl Combine the olive oil, sherry vinegar, pepper and salt, whisk to combine (or shake them together in a small glass jar)
- Combine remaining chickpea salad ingredients in a salad bowl, add dressing to taste and toss to coat
- If you are making the salad ahead of time, omit the avocado Stir these in right before serving to ensure they do not brown and so retain their beautiful blobs of bright green in the salad
Chickpea Salad Sandwich
- 1 can can chickpeas rinsed and drained
- 2 tsp pickled jalapeños sliced, to your taste
- 1 small celery stalk diced
- 1 spring onion thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice, just enough to brighten the salad
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes plus more or less as per your taste
- Place the chickpeas in a bowl and use the back of a spoon to smash about half of them, leaving about half intact for texture
- Add the celery, mayonnaise, mustard and a splash of lemon juice, and mix to combine
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and adjust the acidity with more lemon juice if needed
- Add the crushed red pepper flakes and a teaspoon or two of jalapeños, and mix to combine
- Taste, adding more jalapeños until the salad meets your liking
- To serve, heap a generous spoonful of the chickpea salad onto a slice of bread, top with some of the scallions and a pinch of flaky salt
- Top with another slice of bread or eat as an open-faced sandwich
Turn your next meal into a showstopper with this large 13-inch Sophie Conran white porcelain salad bowl.
With rippled sides and distinctive curves, this timeless design in crisp white is the perfect backdrop to make your mixed salad colours pop.
Safe to use in your oven, microwave, dishwasher and freezer.