Chickpeas: Cook Once, Eat Twice
In an effort to keep our family dinners healthier, at least three times a week we aim to eat plant-based meals. Beans and legumes have become my go-to solution for making hearty, satisfying meat-free dishes.
With great texture and flavor, chickpeas are packed with nutrients and are absolutely budget friendly. They cost even less when I cook them myself (remember that the dried beans almost triple in size). Plus, when I cook the dried chickpeas instead of using canned, they have better texture, and I get extra flavor by adding spices to the cooking liquid without the high sodium content in the can. Sure, it’s an extra step, but it makes a big difference in taste.
Chickpeas are an especially versatile bean. For a great snack that goes well with cocktails, I like to roast them with spices until they’re crispy. And I never get tired of homemade hummus (usually made from chickpeas), which I sometimes use instead of mayonnaise in recipes for dishes like deviled eggs or chicken salad.
Dinner, Day One: This Chickpea Tagine recipe calls for flavorful Moroccan spices—cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. I substitute my precooked chickpeas for the canned variety that the recipe suggests. Since I’m planning to use them in two meals, I’m precooking them in a big pot with some of those extra spices—a few bay leaves, a tablespoon of turmeric, and 1 chopped onion. Soak 2 cups of dried chickpeas overnight and then cook them until tender about 90 minutes. Served with couscous, the tagine makes a complete meal.
Lunch, Day Two: The Greek Salad with Pita Croutons has very few ingredients so it doesn’t take long to assemble. The recipe calls for a half-cup of chickpeas, and I just toss in my home-cooked leftovers. With just a few extra minutes of prep, it’s fun to make homemade croutons out of pita. (Or you can buy premade pita chips in a pinch). I love the texture of the pita chips when they’ve been allowed to rest in the salad for a few minutes and have absorbed the flavors and moisture of the dressing. Combined with the crisp lettuce and tomato, the tangy feta cheese, and the brininess of the Kalamata olives, the chickpeas add a spicy, earthy note to a salad of deliciously contrasting tastes and textures.