How To Cook Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are a reliable legume, a source of protein and an exquisite ingredient to add color, flavor and consistency to your cooking. Chickpeas can really do it all.
Here’s all about cooking chickpeas, the most prevalent chickpea recipes, and how to make the most out of such a particular bean.
What Are Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are an ancient food that was domesticated 9,000 years ago. This means chickpeas have been part of most ancient civilizations’ diets, especially in the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin. Sometimes called garbanzo beans, chickpeas are consumed everywhere today. In fact, 70% of the legume consumed globally comes from India! Chickpeas, though, are not a grain or a seed, but a legume, like beans, lentils and peas.
These round-shaped, fingertip-sized legumes come from a small, leafy plant that grows chickpeas in a pod. The plant thrives in arid landscapes, so it has always been a reliable protein source in the Middle East. Once dried, chickpeas can become a wide assortment of foods, from snacks and appetizers to main courses and even flour.
If you don’t have experience cooking chickpeas, fear not. Chickpeas are as easy to cook as any other legume, including beans. Concisely, boil them, and you’re good to go. Here’s all you need to know about cooking chickpeas.
How To Cook Dried Chickpeas?
Fresh chickpeas are a rare sight; most of them are sold, like most other legumes, dry. Dried chickpeas have almost infinite shelf lives, and their nutritional content remains intact for a long time. Having a bag of chickpeas in the pantry is a good idea since they’re a great vegetarian alternative to meat and a leisurely meal with lots of substance.
The question is, how to cook dried chickpeas? There are several ways to cook chickpeas, and they all produce different outcomes. The difference is in their texture.
If you’re blending or pureeing your chickpeas, like when making hummus, you might want them extra soft. In that case, cook them for between four and eight hours in a slow cooker. Of course, a pressure cooker will produce similar results in just over an hour.
If you want your chickpeas to have a snappy bite, for example, if you’re adding them to soups or salads, then soaking and simmering them on the stovetop will do. By soaking, we mean letting the chickpeas hydrate and soften in cold, fresh water. You can either quickly soak them for around three hours or really soften them by leaving them in water overnight. You’ll have to experiment a little to find the texture that works for you.
Chickpea Recipe Ideas
Although we’re not going deep into chickpea recipes, here are some fun dishes that rely on the round legume for flavor, texture or both.
Chickpeas are tasty salad toppings, as they add a firm bite to otherwise bland blends of lettuces and soft veggies. Chickpeas are also a protein source, so they can turn a salad into a complete meal.
Chickpeas are beautiful soup additions, either blended or added whole. Make chicken soup and add a fistful of chickpeas for a chunky meal. Curries can also benefit from the thickness provided by chickpeas.
Both falafel and hummus, the two most favored Middle Eastern foods, are made with chickpeas and a few other ingredients. In both cases, you want soft chickpeas that you can puree into a silky mush.
If you don’t have chickpeas around or just want to substitute them in any recipe, try one of the following chickpea alternatives. They might not look or taste exactly like chickpeas, but they’ll do the job.
Green peas are remarkably consistent with chickpeas, even if their color is entirely different. Beans are another reliable chickpea substitute, and there are many kinds to choose from. Lentils are another legume as nutritious and starchy as chickpeas, especially if you’re blending them, and so are soybeans.
Peanuts might substitute chickpeas in some recipes but leave this one as your last option. As you know, roasted chickpeas are lovely snacks, and in that department, peanuts can step in at any time.
When substituting chickpeas, think of their role in the recipe. Are they the main flavor? Or are they just there for their consistency? Are chickpeas your main protein or a garnish? Answer these questions, and you’ll easily find the right substitute for chickpeas.
Chickpea’s Nutritional Value
Chickpeas are more than tasty legumes; they’re healthy, too. Chickpeas are nutrient-dense while adding a relatively low number of calories to your diet, so if you want to lose a few pounds, chickpeas are a great place to start.
Chickpeas have lots of protein and fiber, and they’re also packed with vitamins and minerals, including folate and copper. And if this isn’t reason enough for adding the legume to your diet, chickpeas can make you feel satisfied pretty quickly, which means you’re less likely to overeat.
Chickpeas can complement any diet, as they’re compatible with most wellness trends and philosophies. They’re safe to eat for vegans, vegetarians, gluten-intolerant people and those with nut allergies. And chickpeas are more than a side dish; they can be your main course for their impressive amounts of plant-based protein — they also contain all the amino acids your body needs. Chickpeas can substitute meat any day, and you definitely want to have at least one or two vegetarian dinners every week.
Let’s Cook With Chickpeas!
Chickpeas are intimidating, especially if you’ve never cooked them before. But once you realize they’re just as friendly as beans and lentils, you’ll cook with them more often than you think.
Chickpeas are inexpensive, versatile, nutritious and tasty. There’s no reason not to add them to your grocery list. If you need inspiration, visit your local Middle Eastern restaurant. Many of their specialties are guaranteed to be made with chickpeas. You’ll be surprised to find chickpeas in many Indian, European and South American recipe books as well. Chickpeas are now a universal crop, merging seamlessly with various flavors.
When it comes to healthy and tasty, there’s nothing more chickpea-licious than this wholesome legume. Add chickpeas to your diet, snappy or mushy; that’s up to you.
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