Chickpeas make a tasty, inexpensive meal



Use canned chickpeas for a tasty, inexpensive meal. PHOTO COURTESY CHERYL WIXSON
Use canned chickpeas for a tasty, inexpensive meal. PHOTO COURTESY CHERYL WIXSON

The glossy photo of a plate of herbed chickpeas topped with a crispy, golden-yolk fried egg in the January issue of Bon Appetit magazine caught my eye. My winter cooking always needs a jolt of inspiration, and the caption read that this preparation was “fast, easy and fresh.”

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are a round, buff-colored legume slightly larger than the average pea. They have a firm texture, and a mild, nutlike flavor. Used extensively in the Middle East, India and the Mediterranean, chickpeas are available canned and dried. We Americans are probably most familiar with them in hummus, the garlic dip seasoned with lemon juice and sesame oil.

Chickpeas are among the most nutritious members of the bean family, rich in protein, calcium, iron and the B group of vitamins. Although not cultivated here in Maine, they are widely grown in India, and canned chickpeas are an excellent pantry staple.

I was interested to learn that they are almost impossible to overcook, which is why this recipe really works.

cooking herbed chickpeas
Herbed Chickpeas. PHOTO COURTESY CHERYL WIXSON

A batch of herbed chickpeas yielded just a little over 4 cups, and we gobbled up some hot from the skillet. Crispy, salty, creamy, nice fresh herb flavor….a great snack. For a hearty breakfast, I served them over toast, with a splash of yogurt on top. For supper, I made a Mediterranean-style pizza: marinara sauce topped with smoked turkey and herbed chickpeas, finished with mozzarella and feta cheeses.

With the exception of the fresh herbs, Herbed Chickpeas are economical health punch, less than 25 cents a serving. Purchasing fresh herbs in the winter is a luxury, potentially adding another 25 cents per serving, but still a tasty bargain.

PHOTO COURTESY CHERYL WIXSON
Mediterranean pizza with chickpeas, smoked turkey, mozzarella, and feta. PHOTO COURTESY CHERYL WIXSON

For frugal Mainers who like to grow things, rosemary, parsley and thyme will overwinter in pots in the house. And I found sage and mint leaves still fresh under the snow to finish off the flavors of Herbed Chickpeas.

Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected].

Herbed Chickpeas

Makes about 9 half-cup servings

3½ cups cooked chickpeas (2 15-oz. cans)

4 garlic cloves (or more) chopped finely

1/3 cup olive oil

Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

Fresh herbs boost flavor. PHOTO COURTESY CHERYL WIXSON
Fresh herbs boost flavor. PHOTO COURTESY CHERYL WIXSON

1 cup chopped cooked greens (spinach, kale, chard)

1 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, mint, sage, and / or basil)*

Rinse the chickpeas and pat dry. Heat the oil in a large skillet; add the chopped garlic and chickpeas. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the chickpeas are crisped and some have split open.

Stir in the chopped greens and cook until heated. Remove from heat. Stir in the chopped fresh herbs.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 186 calories, 7 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fat, 45 mg. sodium, 6 grams fiber.

* Cook’s note: If you have a wealth of fresh herbs, these beans taste even better with 2½ cups chopped, fresh herbs.

 

Cheryl Wixson
"Maine Dish" columnist Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. Her passion for organic Maine products led to the creation of her business, Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected] or www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com.

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