The many uses for chickpeas

The many uses for chickpeas

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Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are an important source of many nutrients and an inexpensive source of protein.They are also this month’s “Montana Harvest of the Month” because of their importance to Montana agriculture.

Because they are a legume, their root nodules are important to fix nitrogen in the soil, making them valuable for the health of the soil. You may have never seen a chickpea plant and they don’t look like a typical bean plant. The plant is bushy and grows to between 8 inches to 3 feet. Chickpeas get their name from the pod, which resembles the beak of a chicken. Only one to three chickpeas are found in each pod, so they are not popular in home gardens. Chickpeas are a nutrition powerhouse for us, providing potassium, calcium, iron, vitamin B-6, and magnesium, plus the protein and fiber.

You may mainly associate chickpeas with hummus, but they have so many other uses. Try them in salads, in soups, stews, or a stir-fry. You can roast them with olive oil and seasonings for a snack or puree them for a dip. The chickpeas can be purchased either in the dry form or canned, and chickpea flour is also available. Use your pressure cooker to save time when cooking the dry chickpeas. Flavor can be added by cooking the chickpeas in broth or tomatoes, and try experimenting with a variety of seasonings that will enhance their flavor.

The “Montana Harvest of the Month” is a program that showcases Montana grown foods in Montana schools, institutions, and communities. It is a collaboration between a variety of Montana organizations that support healthy foods for Montana schools and Montana agriculture. For more information visit: www.montana.edu/mtharvestofthemonth.

Enjoy this new twist on a classic sandwich. Use it as a filling for sandwiches or in pita. It can also be used as a salad with the addition of spinach or other greens.

Bistro Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

(Servings: 6)

Ingredients:

¾ cup celery, chopped

1/3 cup green peppers, chopped

1/3 cup green onions, chopped

1½ cups dried chickpeas or 3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas

1/3 cup mayonnaise, reduced calorie

1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish

12 slices whole grain bread

¼ pound spinach

Directions:

If using dried chickpeas, they will first have to be cooked. First soak dried chickpeas using one of two methods: (A) Overnight soak: Cover pot of water and beans. Place in refrigerator and soak overnight. (B) Quick soak: Bring beans to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat and cover the pot to allow the beans to soak for 1 hour until the beans expand to two to three times their dry size. To cook soaked chickpeas, add soaked chickpeas to 3 cups water to every 1 cup chickpeas. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender. When chickpeas can be mashed with a fork, they are done. Pour through a colander to remove excess water. In a bowl or mixer, combine mayonnaise, relish, and mustard. Stir in chopped celery, green pepper, green onions, and cooked chickpeas. Mix well. Assemble sandwiches by placing ¾ cup chickpea mixture onto slice of bread; top with ¼ cup spinach and second slice of bread. As an alternate, use whole wheat pita breads and fill pocket of bread with chickpea mixture and spinach. Serve chilled. Source: “Montana Harvest of the Month and the Idaho Grown Legumes Cookbook.”

Get out your pressure cooker or multi-cooker to make this satisfying soup. The dried chickpeas will cook up tender in just 1 hour. For the best flavor, use the cured Spanish chorizo, not the raw, fresh Mexican variety. If you do not have a pressure cooker or multi-cooker, substitute 2 (16 oz.) cans canned chickpeas for the dried. Follow the directions for browning the chorizo, onions, and garlic in a stockpot. Eliminate the water and just use 3 cups broth for the liquid. Simmer for 1 hour and follow the directions in adding the escarole and remaining ingredients. Add additional broth if needed.

Spanish Chickpea Soup

(Servings: 6)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1½ cups chopped onion

5 garlic cloves, minced

4 ounces Spanish chorizo, diced

2½ cups water

2½ cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

1½ cups dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

2 bay leaves

6 cups chopped escarole

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions:

Place a 6-quart pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic and chorizo; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 2½ cups water, broth, chickpeas, and bay leaves. Close lid securely; bring to high pressure over high heat. Adjust heat to medium or level needed to maintain high pressure; cook 1 hour. Remove from heat; release pressure through steam vent, or place cooker under cold running water to release pressure. Remove lid. Discard bay leaves. Add escarole and remaining ingredients, stirring just until the escarole wilts. Serve immediately. Source: Special Edition Cooking Light “Soups and Stews,” 2018.

Hummus is a good staple when you are looking for a healthy snack. This is a new version for you to try. It is an irresistible combination of peanut butter and hummus — with a spicy kick, to try on veggies or pita chips. Make your own pita chips as well.

Peanut Butter Hummus

(Servings: 8)

Ingredients:

2 cups low-sodium chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed

¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth

¼ cup lemon juice

2–3 tablespoons garlic, diced (about 4–6 garlic cloves, depending on taste)

¼ cup creamy peanut butter (or substitute other nut or seed butter)

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or substitute paprika for less spice)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and mix them in a food processor or blender; puree until smooth.

For pita chips: Ingredients:

4 (6½-inch) whole wheat pitas, each cut into 10 triangles

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about 1 clove) (or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Pita chips directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the pita triangles with the olive oil, garlic, and pepper. Bake chips on a baking sheet in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes, or until crispy. Arrange chips on a platter and serve with hummus. Source: “Keep the Beat Recipes, Deliciously Healthy Family Meals,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Combine roasted chickpeas with dark chocolate and you have a nutritious dessert. These are so easy to make and quite tasty.

3-Ingedient Dark Chocolate Chickpea Bark

Ingredients:

1 cup dark chocolate chips

½ teaspoon coconut oil

1½ cups canned, unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray or lightly grease. Add chickpeas to tray and spray with coconut oil or preferred oil. Roast in oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until crunchy; let cool on tray. In a microwave-safe bowl, add chocolate chips and coconut oil. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir and microwave again (repeat until melted). You can also use a double boiler if you prefer. In a large bowl combine roasted chickpeas and dark chocolate then pour onto parchment-lined baking tray; add to freezer to set for 20–30 minutes. Break apart and enjoy! Store refrigerated. Source: https://pulses.org/nap/recipe.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.

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