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Top 5 Ways to Use Chickpeas

Sharon Palmer

I promise, you can come to my kitchen any time of the week and find at least one form of chickpeas. You’ll probably find dried chickpeas, canned chickpeas, hummus, chickpea patties, roasted chickpeas, and even chickpea chips! So, I’m really excited to feature this nutritious, versatile pulse on my blog this month.

Chickpeas for sale at the Chania farmers market

The above photo shows fresh chickpeas sold by the bundle at the farmers market in Crete, Greece. On that warm summer day a few years ago, I wished that I had a kitchen to bring those lovely “bouquets” back to. Alas, I was only able to admire them instead. Chickpeas can actually be enjoyed green—which means they are picked fresh and have a “greener” taste and texture than when they are dried. When you buy dried chickpeas in the store, they have been harvested and simply sun-dried. All you have to do is rehydrate (soak) and cook them.

These earthy, little round legumes (AKA, garbanzo beans) date back as far as 7,000 years ago in the Mediterranean basin. They enjoyed huge popularity among ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans before explorers brought them to countries all over the world. It’s easy to see how the beloved chickpea has inspired so many great dishes in so many different cultures, from Chana Masala in Indian cuisine to hummus in Middle Eastern cuisine.

And with good reason, as chickpeas are filled with plant protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a host of phytochemicals linked with health protection. Research shows that people who eat chickpeas and/or hummus—the nutrient-dense dip or spread made from chickpeas—have been shown to have higher nutrient intakes of dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron, compared to people who don’t eat them. Emerging research also suggests that chickpeas and hummus may be beneficial in weight management, glucose and insulin regulation, and may even have a positive impact on some markers of cardiovascular disease. So, what are my favorite ways to enjoy chickpeas? I’ve got you covered!

Top 5 Ways to Use Chickpeas

Green Pea Hummus adds a twist to classic chickpea hummus along with more fiber, protein, and phytochemicals from peas.

1. Whiz Chickpeas into Hummus. I love that hummus is now a mainstream part of our daily lives. In fact, I recommend that you keep some in your fridge at all times, as it’s a great nutrient-rich spread or topping for sandwiches, salads, whole grain crackers, and wraps. You can make your own classic chickpea hummus so quickly, too. And it’s so fun to get inventive, because you can make hummus with just about anything added to the mix (pumpkin, beets, avocado…the sky’s the limit)! Try my Green Pea Hummus or Avocado Cilantro Hummus, for starters.

My Easy Mediterranean Artichoke Chickpea Bake with only 8 ingredients makes a quick and healthy week-night dinner.

2. Go Global with Chickpeas.These little gems work so well in ethnic cuisine, including African, Mediterranean, and Indian. Try this Indian-inspired Chana Masala with Brown Rice or my Easy Mediterranean Artichoke Chickpea Bake.

These Magic Banana Nut Pancakes are made with chickpea flour and aquafaba—no eggs!

3. Save that Liquid…The leftover liquid from a can of chickpeas—called aquafaba—is all the rage! This liquid can be whipped into a meringue-like texture that can replace eggs in baking. Yes, that’s right! In fact, I made these Magic Banana Nut Pancakesout of chickpea flour and aquafaba—no eggs or gluten in this delicious recipe. Learn more about making aquafaba here.

4. Roast ‘em Up! I am in love with roasted chickpeas! They are so easy to prepare: just roast cooked chickpeas with olive oil and your favorite spices until they are slightly crunchy, then pop them in your mouth as snacks. Check out my recipe for roasting chickpeas in my book Plant-Powered for Life.

Chickpeas are the protein foundation of this beautiful Moroccan Chickpea Sorghum Bowl.

5. Use Chickpeas as your Base. The mild flavor and color of chickpeas means they can be the backbone of so many dishes, from chili to veggie meat balls to a buddha bowl to a faux seafood salad. I’m sharing my recipe for Moroccan Chickpea Sorghum Bowl, which features chickpeas as the plant protein star in a grain bowl.

Check out my Top 10 Plant-Based Chickpea Recipes for even more ideas on cooking with this versatile pulse.

And don’t forget to check out my video for Vegan Chickpea Sea Salad, which features chickpeas.

For more of my Top 5 Ways to cook plants, check out some of my favorites:

Get to know more about how to use plant foods in the following guides:

Top 5 Ways to Use Pumpkin Seeds
Top 5 Ways to Use Quinoa
Top 5 Ways to Use Brown Rice
Top 5 Ways to Use Pomegranates

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