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March, 2008

Stop the Clock! With Garbanzo Beans

By Cheryl Forberg

The nutty-flavored chickpea is also known as the garbanzo bean. From Indian curries to Provençal soccas (or chickpea flour crepes), it’s a culinary chameleon and lends itself well to different textures and seasonings.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
The nutty-flavored chickpea is also known as the garbanzo bean. It is no stranger to a variety of ethnic cuisines the world over. From Indian curries to Provençal soccas (or chickpea flour crepes), it’s a culinary chameleon and lends itself well to different textures and seasonings. Garbanzos can be found and enjoyed in a number of forms, from immature shoots to plump fresh beans, though most of us are accustomed to purchasing them canned (and already cooked). Dry beans are also available and relatively inexpensive, but many people don’t like the extra steps required to soak them before simmering for an hour or so.

When dried and ground, the chickpea is also used as flour in sweet and savory dishes. Rich in protein, they’re also a source of phytosterols. This plant compound promotes heart health by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol. These healthy legumes are also loaded with fiber, thus increasing satiety, which may keep obesity under control. I love their nutty taste in every form, but my hands down favorite way to eat garbanzo beans is in the Middle Eastern appetizer called hummus. Creamy chickpeas are ground with garlic and spices for a highly-seasoned dip. Some hummus recipes are very high in fat and calories because they often include a generous amount of tahini (a rich creamy spread of ground sesame seeds) and a healthy dose of olive oil.

This month’s recipe adds a smoky flair by puréeing roasted red bell peppers into the mix. Not only does this kick up the flavor and the color, but it also reduces the proportion of fat in the finished recipe, since bell peppers don’t contain any (fat). Roasted Red Pepper Hummus PlatterAll in all, this dip (or spread) takes minutes to prepare and will keep for several days if refrigerated. It can be served as an appetizer with warm whole grain pita bread which has been cut in bite-size wedges, or served as a sandwich on warmed pita with sliced tomatoes and shredded lettuce. My favorite way to serve hummus is with fresh crudités, as it tastes delicious with virtually every veggie from jicama to broccoli.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Crudite
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Yield: About 4 cups; 16 (¼-cup) servings

For hummus:

11-ounce tub Melissa’s Garbanzo beans (equals 3 cups cooked garbanzos)
1/2 jar Melissa’s Fire Roasted Sweet Red Bell Peppers, drained (7 ½ ounces or 1 cup)
1/2 cup Melissa’s Lime, juiced
1 tablespoon lime peel, grated
1/2 cup tahini
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon Melissa’s Garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

For crudité:

8 ounces fresh Melissa’s Sno Peas, blanched
8 ounces jicama, cut in julienne sticks
8 ounces baby carrots
1 English cucumber, cut in 1/2-inch slices
16 radishes
2 yellow bell peppers, trimmed and cut into 1” slices

Instructions for hummus:

Cook garbanzo beans according to package instructions. Drain; cool. There will be about 3 cups of cooked garbanzo beans. Place all ingredients, for the hummus, except cilantro in the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender. Process or blend until very smooth, about 4 minutes. Transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro.

Instructions for crudités:

Arrange crudités decoratively on a platter with the bowl of hummus. Serve immediately. Leftover hummus keeps for several days if refrigerated.