Call Them What You Want – Chickpeas Are Super
So many food words are just as fun to say as they are to enjoy for supper. Garbanzo beans are a great example. Call them by that moniker or call them chickpeas – it matters not. They are an eye-opening treat I’m trying to use more.
The reasons why are pretty straightforward. No, it’s not the loads of fiber, protein or nutrients the tiny tan little guys offer to any snack, salad or meal. Although all those things are great – and really, just a bonus. The reason I am working them into many a mix is because I like their mild, nutty taste and the slightly-resistant texture they add to the things I cook.
Experimenting with them for me began a while back, but it has kicked into overdrive lately as I try more and more Indian dishes. In that world of cuisine, they even get another name, gram or Bengal gram, and the flour that comes from them is great for a bunch of Indian dishes.
Like many good things, it started because of a mistake. I thought I had tons of beans in the pantry, but I was wrong, and you just cannot do right by chili if you leave it light on the legumes. So a can of chickpeas that was minding its own business was quickly opened and added to the rich stew of meat, spices and tomato. It worked great, adding a contrasting color to the dark red soup, along with just enough of a flavor kick to make it a regular feature in my kitchen.
That success led me to add this bean to the grocery list, and I found it was easy to use in a wide variety of dishes. I combined a can with some lean ground beef, some cumin seed and the last can of tomato puree and baked it, only to discover a new favorite for a comfort-food supper dish.
In my exploration of Indian food, that continues each week, I came across the idea of roasted chickpeas and gave it a spin. If you like corn nuts, but dislike the over-the-top sodium that comes with a bag of that snack, try roasting some garbanzos. Make sure they’re dry before you start, use a quality olive oil to impart some taste and then raid the spice rack and make them whatever combo of characteristic flavors you like best – or have on hand.
They are equally enjoyable with garam masala and curry powder as they are with smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. They are crunchy as all get-out and the flavor is not quite roasted nut but not really popcorn – somewhere in between. One thing I noticed with the roasted ones is that only a few handfuls had me feeling full.
So, I’m not sure if they are officially super-foods or not, but if you have never really improvised with the chickpea in your kitchen, I’d recommend it.
You can try this easy recipe for roasted chickpeas to start.
- 1 14½ ounce can of no-salt chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
Note: you can use almost any seasoning you like for this dish – from spicy to sweet.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While it warms, empty chickpeas into strainer and rinse well. Discard any loose skins as you rinse.
- Transfer chickpeas to a dry kitchen towel. Fully dry them while oven gets hot.
- Place the very dry chickpeas on a parchment-lined baking sheet with edges, then toss with olive oil. Lightly salt them, and then bake for about 10 minutes.
- Shake the pan and rotate it, then bake another 10 minutes.
- The chickpeas are done when they are slightly darker in color. Some may pop.
- Remove from oven and add spices or seasonings. They are best when hot – they tend to lose their crunch as they cool down.
Note: You can use these as a substitute for croutons on a salad or soup.
Nutrition, using one cup of canned, drained and rinsed chickpeas: 210 calories, 10 grams protein, 35 grams of carbohydrate, 10 grams of fiber and 4 grams fat. A typical serving would be about ½ cup per person.