The Mediterranean diet or lifestyle has long been touted by medical professionals, like those from the Mayo Clinic, as one of the healthiest on the planet. This culinary tradition encompasses countries across Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East, and staple ingredients include abundant fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seafood, and legumes like the humble chickpea.
According to Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) were among the first domesticated plants recorded in Turkey around 3500 B.C. These members of the Fabaceae family come in two types — kabuli and desi. The former variety is the tan orbs most typically used in the U.S., while the latter is a more petite, asymmetric, dark-hued variety common in India and the Middle East.
As a chef who spent time conducting research in North Africa, I have long been enamored with the versatility, flavor, and nutritional prowess of this often underestimated legume. Chickpeas add remarkable flavor and texture to a myriad of dishes, from dips to salads to stews. Read on to discover the infinite possibilities hidden in these crave-worthy chickpea dishes from the Daily Meal's collection of recipes.
Gluten-Free Gazpacho And Crispy Chickpeas
While this spin on a classic Andalusian gazpacho is chock full of vegetables, chickpeas become integral to its success. Not only are they turned into crispy crouton-like nuggets that garnish the soup, adding crunchy texture and a pop of flavor, but they also make their way into the soup, lending their starchy texture to help thicken it up instead of stale bread.
If you're concerned about the sodium content of the chickpea liquid, you can purchase low-sodium garbanzo beans. You can also adjust the amount of salt you add to the soup, as the chickpeas and feta will give some of their own salinity to the final dish.
Spiced Chickpea Greek Salad
The keys to this recipe are the marinade on the chickpeas and the homemade vinaigrette. Both are rife with complex, bright flavors that will perk up your taste buds. For best results, you can get the chickpeas marinating in advance, up to two days ahead, giving them plenty of time to absorb more flavor.
For the dressing, a quick shortcut involves placing all the ingredients into an airtight container or mason jar with a tight lid and simply shaking it vigorously to combine. This dressing can be stored in the same container and re-emulsified easily by giving it a good shake when you remove it from the refrigerator.
Recipe: Spiced Chickpea Greek Salad
This falafel recipe is dynamite for those wanting the bright flavors of classic falafel without the added fat from deep frying them. Whatever they may lack in a crispy crust, they make up for in taste. To add more depth, incorporate a teaspoon of smoked hot paprika for an earthy and spicy component.
To serve, whip up a delicious tahini sauce, mixing sesame paste with lemon juice, garlic, water, and cumin. Spread this over fresh pita or naan, and top with crisp lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta for a Mediterranean-inspired sandwich that will fill you up and perk up your senses.
Recipe: Baked Falafel
Cheesy Roasted Chickpeas (Chickpea Cheetos)
If you are looking for a guilt-free salty snack loaded with nostalgia, these chickpeas are for you. They cleverly repurpose the powdered cheese in store-bought macaroni and cheese, transforming it into a powder coating reminiscent of Cheetos. When you chow down on handful after handful of this high-protein alternative snack, your fingers will get that same delightful bright orange crust that you can lick off to your heart's content.
You can add some cayenne pepper with the cheese powder to spice this recipe up. If you enjoy making homemade party mixes, you might want to add some of these roasted chickpeas to your next batch.
Easy Chickpea And Potato Curry
This recipe is a twist on a classic Indian curry chock full of spices. It features chickpeas as the star protein, with canned tomato soup to help impart both acidity and flavor. When selecting potatoes, always opt for a starchy versus a waxy potato. As the potatoes break down during cooking, they'll help to thicken the curry, giving it a velvety texture.
If the tomato soup makes the final curry overly acidic, add a tablespoon of honey to the recipe to help tame it. Lastly, for a nutty, dairy-free twist, substitute a can of coconut milk for the dairy milk.
Recipe: Easy Chickpea And Potato Curry
Air Fryer Crispy Chickpeas
This recipe uses your air fryer to create a healthier, high-protein alternative to salty-fried snacks like potato chips. If you don't own an air fryer, you can bake these in an oven set at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They'll take slightly longer and require more monitoring and stirring to ensure they don't burn, but they can be equally delicious when baked.
Add a teaspoon of your favorite spice blend, like ras el hanout, curry powder, or Ethiopian berbere to jazz this recipe up. Toss the finished chickpeas in some grated parmesan or pecorino romano for a cheesy twist.
Recipe: Air Fryer Crispy Chickpeas
Garlicky Roasted Chickpeas With Feta And Mint
This quick and easy side dish could easily be turned into a salad. The bright, fresh mint and salty feta perfectly accompany the lightly roasted, slightly spicy, garlicky chickpeas.
To turn this into a salad, start with a base of lettuce, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, za'atar rubbed grilled shrimp, or seared salmon before adding them to the garlicky chickpeas and feta. Next, make a Greek-inspired dressing using olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and dried dill. Once assembled, serve this salad with hunks of pita or naan and a glass of dry, acidic white wine for the perfect refreshing summer meal.
Chickpea And White Bean Hummus
This spin on a classic hummus recipe combines chickpeas with creamy white or cannellini beans. Cannellini beans have a slightly buttery texture and nutty flavor that nicely balances the chickpeas' more starchy and earthy flavor.
If you find that the texture of this hummus is too dense or grainy after it's been puréed, try incorporating a couple of tablespoons of ice water, to help make your hummus moist and fluffy. You may need to adjust the seasoning to counteract the water, but this will be worth it for its impact on the final texture, making it more scoopable.
Recipe: Chickpea And White Bean Hummus
Chickpea And Spinach Stew
This simple yet flavorful stew can be served as a side dish or turned into a main course when combined with brown or white rice and a simple green salad. The lemon juice adds acidity and will help keep the spinach verdant, giving this dish a visual appeal that will keep you coming back for more.
If you want to add more complex flavor to this dish, substitute the regular canned tomatoes for fire-roasted ones to impart their inherent smokiness. If you also want to turn up the heat, add a teaspoon of harissa paste, sambal oelek, or gochujang to the dish toward the end of cooking.
Recipe: Chickpea And Spinach Stew
The Most Delicious Hummus
This hummus recipe takes longer than canned chickpea recipes, but the result will be noticeably more flavorful. The key is soaking the dried chickpeas long enough before cooking them. While overnight should be enough, I often give them 24 hours to guarantee they become tender enough to purée.
If you don't have saffron, do not attempt to substitute it with turmeric for color. The flavor of turmeric is far more aggressive and will mute the aromatic onions and garlic. A better alternative would be smoked paprika, which will provide color and flavor without overwhelming all the other ingredients.
Recipe: The Most Delicious Hummus
Creamy Lemon Hummus
The superstar of this hummus is lemon zest, which gives it a bright flavor and citrussy aroma. When zesting a lemon, only use the yellow peel, not the bitter white pith below it, or you can risk making the hummus taste acrid.
While the recipe doesn't call for it, peeling the chickpeas can significantly improve the final texture of this hummus. After you drain them, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. The peels will pop right off like little papery skins. You will lose a little volume, so you should do this step before measuring four ounces of chickpeas for the recipe.
Recipe: Creamy Lemon Hummus
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