Apr 29, 2021

LET’S DISH! Let’s Talk About Chickpeas

By: MaryAnn Miano

A chickpea isn’t a pea at all – it is really a legume. It also has other names: garbanzo bean in Spanish and hamaz in Arabic. So why is this little, creamy legume called “chickpea?” Interestingly, the Latin word “cicer” was lent to Cicero, the famous Roman orator, since his family grew chickpeas. The word “cicer” morphed into the French “pois chiche” which the English changed to “chick-pease,” which became “chickpeas.” The word has nothing to do with chicks or peas, but there you have it!

But one thing the little nugget does not confuse us about is its incredible earthy, nutty taste and wonderful nutritious value. It’s high in folate, fiber, plant-based protein, manganese and iron. The protein and fiber in the chickpea helps to keep you fuller longer, so consider it an aid to weight loss, too. And if that’s not enough to brag about, chickpeas have properties that may help prevent some chronic illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Chickpeas have their origin in the Mediterranean. They are a major ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. They are one of the first cultivated legumes, probably going back about 7,500 years and discovered in present-day southeastern Turkey and the adjoining country of Syria.  

Chickpeas are so easy to include into your meals. You can buy them dried or canned. Toss them into salads and soups, or use them to create the dish they were put on earth for: the mighty hummus! As the main ingredient in the delicious hummus dip, all you’ll need is some tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Try hummus as a tasty, nutritious alternative to butter, cream cheese and mayonnaise. Vegans already know chickpeas as a staple to their diet and use them as a replacement for meat due to the chickpea’s high protein content.  

The best way to prepare hummus at home is to cook dried chickpeas until soft and mashable; then use the cooking liquid to enhance the hummus’s flavor. A drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of finely ground red pepper and a little parsley are the usual garnishes. Of course, if you are pressed for time, you can use canned chickpeas.  

Another nice way to enjoy chickpeas is to lightly salt and drizzle with olive oil and roast them in the oven at 425 degrees on a cookie tray. If you like a crunchy snack, roasted chickpeas will satisfy you.   

Celebrate the little chickpea by preparing the recipe of the month – easy and quick to make, tasty and healthy to eat!  

HOMEMADE HUMMUS

Makes 6 servings or about 1 1/2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas*

(*To cook dried chickpeas, place them in a bowl, cover with cold water, and soak in the refrigerator overnight or for about eight hours. Drain them well, place in a medium saucepan and cover with about 2 inches of water and 1 teaspoon baking soda, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, skimming off the foam and making sure the water in always in motion. Cook until the water is cloudy and gelatinous and the chickpeas look somewhat disintegrated, about 65 to 75 minutes. Timing may vary. Once done, they’re ready for the food processor.) 

¼ cup fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)

¼ cup well stirred tahini (can use store-bought)

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Salt to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons water

Dash ground paprika or sumac, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for one minute. Scrape the sides of the bottom of the bowl, then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.

Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin and a ½ teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini then add lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then process another 30 seconds or until well blended. Open, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for one minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl; then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth, one to two minutes.  

The hummus may be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water with the food processor turned on until you reach your perfect consistency.  

Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Serve hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of paprika. Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.  

Recipe from: InspiredTaste.net