If I was stuck on a deserted island, one of the three foods I would bring with me is chickpeas. Their creamy, rich flavour carries hints of nuts, yet is mild enough to compliment a variety of dishes. You can think of chickpeas as the versatile “chicken” of the legumes world. They can be enjoyed in salads, soups, dips and stews. And when spiced and roasted, they also make tasty snacks.
Most people have tried red kidney beans in chili and but shy away from all other legumes. But chickpeas have a firm buttery texture that’s way more enjoyable. Also known as garbanzo beans, these little morsels are full of goodness. High in fibre, a whopping 11 grams per 1/2 cup, chickpeas also provide a good source of plant-based protein, iron and phytonutrients like antioxidants and phyto-sterols. Research continues to indicate that we should be eating more plant proteins like chickpeas. In fact, in the Food Habits in Later Life Study, legumes were the only food type that were significantly associated with healthier aging. Eating legumes reduces risk of chronic disease and is beneficial for the health of our planet as well as our bodies. Even more importantly, legumes such as chickpeas keep our energy levels up and keep us feeling full and satisfied. However you look at it, chickpeas are well worth trying for their taste and nutrition.
As a lover of good food, I’ve visited many a restaurant in Vancouver. Chickpeas don’t always end up on the menu, but Campagnolo had it right to include a decadent dish on their menu – Crispy Ceci. Ceci meaning chickpeas and crispy meaning just that… crispy! This dish doles out layers of delightful flavour: crispy, creamy chickpeas; spicy red chili peppers, peppery arugula and refreshing lemon and mint. Inspired by the flavours in this dish, I recreated my own version for you to try.
Makes 4 servings
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas – see instructions below to soak and cook chickpeas or use a 19oz/540mL can of drained and rinsed chickpeas
3 cups baby arugula – you can also include greens like baby spinach or baby romaine
1/4 cup fresh mint, torn into pieces
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
salt to taste
Dry drained or cooked chickpeas on paper towel.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or frypan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chickpeas and cook, tossing the chickpeas often until browned and crispy, about 6-8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together the arugula, mint, parsley and lemon zest. Add the hot chickpeas, lemon juice, chili flakes and salt to taste. Toss well and serve.
Cooking Dried Chickpeas
One cup of dried chickpeas will make about 2 to 2-1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas. Chickpeas must first be soaked before cooking. Place dried chickpeas in a saucepan and cover with water. Allow to soak for at least eight hours or overnight. The longer you allow the chickpeas to soak, the less time they take to cook. Once soaked, drain and rinse chickpeas. Return chickpeas to saucepan and cover with at least 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam as it appears. Reduce heat and simmer until chickpeas are tender, about 45 minutes to one hour and 15 minutes. Drain chickpeas and allow to cool. They are now ready to enjoy or add to your meals.