By Cheryl Forberg, RD
The nutty-flavored chickpea, also known as the garbanzo bean, has a cosmopolitan history. It's been around for thousands of years and holds a prominent place on distinguished menus from Sicily to Bombay.
Garbanzos are firm, round, beige beans used extensively in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisine. One 1/2-cup serving has 7 grams of protein and 60 milligrams of calcium. They also contain starch, so adding a handful to a soup recipe provides a tasty thickener.
Versatile chickpeas have double utility; immature shoots and the bean themselves are enjoyed as a vegetable. In the Middle East, chickpeas are blended with tahini, garlic, and spices for a highly seasoned dip called hummus, or formed into balls called Falafel, where they deep-fry and serve in tasty sandwiches.
When dried and ground, the chickpea can also be used as flour for sweet and savory dishes, such as Socca, a tender and savory crepe from the South of France. Halva is a luscious Indian dessert pudding, which can also be made with chickpea flour.
A rich source of phytosterols (the cholesterol clone), chickpeas promote heart health by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol. They are also loaded with fiber (6 grams per ½ cup), thus increasing satiety, which may keep obesity under control by reducing overall intake.
Hummus is possibly the most popular recipe for chickpeas. Used as a dip, or spread on a sandwich, its preparation has infinite variations. I am sharing my favorite today, and I hope you will love it as much as we do.
Lemony Hatch Pepper Hummus
Most canned chickpeas do not have the skins/peels removed. But like most Middle Eastern chefs, Melissa's takes the time to remove the chickpea skins, resulting in a much smoother, creamier hummus. If you are not crazy about lemon, you can reduce the lemon by half.
2 teaspoons Melissa's Chopped Garlic
1-9 oz. package Melissa's Steamed & Peeled Chickpeas (1¼ cups), undrained
2 small or 1 large Meyer lemon, juice and zest
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup olive oil
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons smoked salt
¼ - ½ cup Melissa’s Hatch Peppers, roasted and diced
Drizzle of olive oil
Light sprinkle of smoked paprika
Few cilantro leaves
Combine all ingredients (except diced chiles) in a food processor or blender.
Process or blend until smooth (this may take a minute or two). Season to taste with additional salt or lemon if desired.
May thin with hot water, one tablespoon at a time. Stir in chopped Hatch peppers. Use right away or refrigerate for up to one week.
Yield about 2 cups