Let’s give three cheers for chickpeas! This bean is famous for its starring role in hummus, but legumes can do more than anchor a creamy dip. Chickpeas play such an essential part of diets around the world that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) declared 2016 the Year of Pulses, spotlighting legumes like fava beans, lentils, split peas, and of course, the chickpea plant.
There are lots of reasons to love eating them (hello, vegan protein), but growing pulses is also good for the planet and can help a farm reduce its carbon footprint. Here’s how: When a legume plant dies in the field, all of its remaining nitrogen and amino acids are converted to nitrate and released back into the soil, serving as a green fertilizer for future plants.
With an earthy nuttiness and buttery texture, they’re a versatile ingredient for every meal, and we’ve got the recipes to prove it. But first, let’s take a closer look at the history of chickpeas and the different versions you can use.
Before we reveal all the ways you can use these beans, we should clear up what to call them. In short: both monikers refer to the same legume whose scientific name is cicer arietinum. Since this ingredient has a long and global history, different cultures adopted different names. In Latin, the chickpea was originally called a cicer, and later, French speakers modernized the term to pois chiche. The English use of chickpea dates back to 1722, but garbanzo is the more popular name in Spanish-speaking countries. (Fun facts for your next Mediterranean-themed dinner party, perhaps?)
You’ll find chickpeas in two varieties: canned and dried. Canned beans come pre-cooked and packaged in water, which means they’re ready to drain and rinse (a step that helps remove excess starch), and can be added to a recipe—no additional cooking needed. Dried chickpeas need a little more prep, which typically involves soaking them overnight (totally hands-off), and cooking them on the stove the next day. You can even incorporate chickpea flour into baked goods or breading.
Chickpeas add heft to meals and serve as a vegan and gluten-free protein source. They pack a good amount of fiber and nutrition, too. Each bean delivers vitamin C, calcium, and iron, so get into the habit of adding them to salads, soups, and pastas.
Rarely seen outside of Provence, socca—a traditional chickpea flour flatbread—deserves a place on the dinner table, and takes just a few minutes to cook in a hot skillet. We finished ours with a lemony salad of zucchini, watermelon radishes, and feta, but feel free to experiment.
When roasted, chickpeas turn into a crispy, irresistible snack. Make a batch for movie night as a popcorn alternative, or have a few anytime you’re craving some crunch.
These bright little chickpea patties are wonderfully addictive on their own or as the main component to a simple pita sandwich stuffed with parsley, cucumbers, cabbage, and yogurt sauce.
Kids love these no-fail homemade crackers—which work equally well as a lunchtime treat or after-school snack. The dough is made with garbanzo bean flour, coconut flour, and just a touch of honey, so it’s gluten-free, too.
Did you know the liquid from a can of chickpeas can be whipped up just like egg whites? It’s called aquafaba (Latin for “bean liquid”), and you can try this trend in a recipe for decadent and dairy-free dark chocolate mousse. Just be sure to choose an unsalted can of beans.
When afternoon cravings hit, it’s easy to reach for chips, candy, or anything that’s bagged and ready to go. The problem with quick-fix snacks is they’re not usually filled with enough good stuff to keep you full until dinner. This hummus is made with chickpeas and avocado oil, then puréed with silky tahini—you won’t be able to get enough of it!
We’re about to make your cookie dough dreams come true—even for gluten-free eaters! Instead of using flour, eggs, butter, and granulated sugar, this recipe combines dates, almond butter, and almond milk. (But don’t worry, there are still plenty of chocolate chips involved.) This satisfying treat also hides two secret ingredients inside: beans and collagen. And trust us, you won’t even taste it.
When you’re trying to save money and eat healthy, packing a lunch is a great way to do it. With canned chicken and chickpeas are in the pantry, it’ll take your lunch from drab to fab.
This spicy-sweet side salad is bursting with the flavors of Morocco: smoky harissa paste, earthy chickpeas, salty feta, and fresh cilantro and mint. Even if you’re sensitive to heat, you’ll like this one—the natural sweetness of the carrots mellows out the kick of the chiles.
Classic hummus is always in season, but try adding savory pumpkin spices for a fall or winter version. It works well as the centerpiece of a fresh vegetable lunch bowl, or an appetizer for dinner.
For this gluten-free dish, we boiled a box of spaghetti made with chickpea flour and coated the noodles in our version of this luscious Italian sauce complete with tender sardines and salty capers. Lemon juice livens up this fast and flavorful meal, perfect for the whole family.
Chickpeas lend creaminess to this hearty and healthy tomato soup—imagine cream of tomato, but without the cream. Simple to whip up for dinner on a weeknight, most of the ingredients probably already live in your pantry!
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