Few of us will confess to being lazy when it comes to making dinner, but the truth is, after a long day, sometimes the last thing that you want to do is figure out a meal. Enter chickpeas. If you keep cans of chickpeas in your cabinet, you can whip up a satisfying and protein-rich dinner with very little effort. Here are five ways chickpeas will make your life better.
1. Chickpeas in a Salad
If you have a cucumber, a red onion, a tomato and a red pepper, you can make a pretty decent salad chopping those up and tossing them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. (Feta cheese is also a nice addition.) But that salad, just as it is, isn’t dinner. Add a can of drained chickpeas and suddenly a sad plate of vegetables is enlivened with something meatier and more filling, but no less nutritious. And unlike the chickpealess salad, a salad with chickpeas (and a side of good bread) will leave you full.
2. Chickpeas in a Soup
If you have an onion, some garlic, chicken stock (or any kind of stock, really) and a lemon, you can make a pretty wonderful soup just by sautéing the onion in olive oil until light brown, adding some chopped garlic, a can of chickpeas, a pinch of salt, covering with stock, simmering for 10 minutes or so and then blending in a blender. Season the finished soup with salt and lemon juice and you’ll have something way better than anything you can buy in a can.
3. Chickpeas in a Pasta Dish
It may sound strange, but chickpeas are a great option when you don’t want to use meat in a pasta sauce. Sautee onions and garlic in ¼ cup olive oil while cooking a big pot of rigatoni (the rigatoni are big enough to hold the chickpeas inside them) and, just for kicks, add some red pepper flakes and anchovies to the sauce too. Add a can of chickpeas, a ladleful of pasta cooking water (to make it saucy) and, when the pasta’s finished cooking, toss it together with everything in the sauce pan and some chopped parsley for color. That’s a very satisfying dinner indeed.
4. Chickpeas in a Sandwich.
To make a really good hummus, simple strain a can of chickpeas (reserving some liquid) and throw them in a food processor with a garlic clove or two, ¼ cup tahini (sesame paste), a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and a little of the reserved chickpea liquid. When it’s light and fluffy taste it for seasoning. Then spread the hummus on good sandwich bread with tomato, onion, and a piece of lettuce and you have a good, healthy sandwich to satisfy you at the end of a long day.
5. Chickpeas by Themselves
No, not straight out of the can; but roasted! Pat them really dry, put them on a cookie sheet, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in a 400 degree oven until they’re crispy all over (about 30 to 40 minutes). Snack on them like healthier French Fries and season aggressively with more salt and/or cayenne pepper (if you like things spicy.) It may not be a meal, but with a glass of crisp white wine, you’ll fall asleep before you realize you didn’t really have a proper dinner.
Blogger Adam Roberts wrote this article and you can find more of his pieces at the Amateur Gourmet