Oh how I love thee chickpeas, let me count the ways! Seriously, there are So Many Ways to eat chickpeas! They’re incredibly versatile; you can have them crispy, meaty, mashed, pureed into hummus, and so on. Being fairly bland themselves is another great benefit as it allows them to pair well with any spice or flavor you prefer, adding to the possibility of options.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are legumes – seeds that are grown in pods. Unlike some other legumes like edamame and green beans, chickpeas are not usually sold in pod form. Typically they are sold either as dried beans, canned, or frozen. The starting form of chickpeas (frozen, canned or dry) is important for the type of recipe that you’re making; for example, canned chickpeas contain much more moisture than frozen varieties, but less moisture than dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight.
The complete nutrition information for chickpeas can be seen in the USDA Nutrient Database here.
How to Eat Chickpeas
- Sauteed: lightly spray a pan with oil, toss in some chickpeas, sprinkle with seasonings as desired, shake the pan every now and then to roll them around. These sauteed chickpeas can then be added to just about anything: served with some sauces on top, or put on top of a salad, mixed into pasta, served on baked potatoes, etc.
- Baked: Lightly spray with oil, then bake until crispy. Less crispy kinds can be added to just about any recipe the same way as sauteed chickpeas; more crispy kinds can be used as croutons added to soup or salad.
- Blended: place canned or soaked chickpeas in a blender. Other ingredients can be added to make hummus (such as chopped onions, peppers, lemon juice and tahini), or the blended chickpeas can be used as an ingredient for other recipes.
- Mashed: Also can be made into falafels, which are handy little chickpea meatballs that traditionally are often served in a pita as a type of sandwich, but they also can be eaten plain or with sauces as a snack or meal, as well as added to any other meal just like meatballs. Make larger falafels to create a burger. It’s easiest to lightly blend the chickpeas in a blender (and add some fresh spices like parsley for flavor) rather than mashing them by hand, though either method words.
- Canned: Canned chickpeas are already pre-cooked, which means they can simply be rinsed and can be mixed in with fresh veggies for a cold salad that can be eaten by itself or used in a sandwich wrap (pita traditionally).
- Sprouted: Soaking dry chickpeas in water for a couple days will cause them to sprout, which makes them easier to digest (remember: they are a bean afterall). Cooking chickpeas is what typically makes them easier to digest, however once sprouted they can be eaten raw on salads or in a pita, or used as any of the above methods.
Tips for Buying Chickpeas
It’s a good idea to buy all three types of chickpeas so that you can have them on hand, particularly at first when you’re trying to figure out what style works best for your. Some of us are very forgetful when it comes to soaking dry chickpeas and are therefore more suited to frozen varieties. However, if you do happen to remember to soak your chickpeas in large quantities, you can then freeze them yourself rather than buying them pre-frozen for ease of use later.
- Canned chickpeas are by far the easiest to work with it’s as simple as opening up a can and rinsing them off. This is the highest moisture type of chickpea, however they can be used in almost any chickpea recipe, including turning them into crispy crunchers that can be used as croutons or just enjoyed as a snack even though this is the highest moisture version; it can be done! (In fact, be careful not to overestimate the moisture and burn them… whoops.)
- Frozen chickpeas are perfect for a single-person meal; simply grab yourself a couple handfuls and leave the rest in the freezer until you need them. They have a medium level of moisture content. These aren’t found in most stores unfortunately (I found them in Lucky’s who just went bankrupt), so I’ve started just freezing my own. I never eat a full can of chickpeas in one meal, so it’s easiest for me just to grab what I need out of the freezer for a quick meal. It really only shavesone minute off the prep time, but when you’re groggy and don’t want to cook, it’s nice to just be able to toss the in a pan.
- Dried chickpeas are supposedly the perfect type for falafels (chickpea meatballs basically), or at least that’s what most recipes I read online said so I figured I should take their word for it so I haven’t tried the other kinds to make falafels. I like to cook up a batch of falafels just to keep in the fridge because they make a great snack or can be used as part of a main dish like as ’lunchmeat’ for a sandwich, added cold onto a salad, or warmed up with some vegetables for dinner.
- Pre-made Chickpea Products: There are a variety of pre-made chickpea products that can be purchased at major supermarkets as well, such as chickpea pasta (looks just like regular pasta but is made with chickpeas), hummus dip is traditionally made with chickpeas and comes in a wide variety of flavors, and chickpea flour which can be made into virtually anything you use flour for.
There are also chickpea breadcrumbs that I saw at a store recently and am looking forward to trying out. Actually it was funny when I saw them – I thought “oh good! We can have breadcrumbs again! Wait… breadcrumbs are already vegan, haha!” But no, no, I then read the label on the container of Italian breadcrumbs that I’ve eaten most of my life: contains milk! Ack! It never ceases to amaze me where non-vegan ingredients can be found.
I’ve also seen some frozen medleys that include chickpeas, typically with a type of grain as well such as millet or farro, and of course a selection of vegetables.