How to Cook Chickpeas for a Protein-Packed and Tasty Meal
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have recently become a common sight within dishes all around the world. Whether you have experienced them ground into a hummus, roasted as a quick and crunchy snack, or as a topping for a salad, you have undoubtedly enjoyed the amazing taste of this legume. The versatility of this food is immense and is partly a reason for its successful rise in popularity. They can be added into hearty chilis, warming soups, made into falafel, and so much more.
Though these legumes may not look like much, the right seasonings and cooking methods can really transform chickpeas into something special. In fact because they are so easily adaptable, I could personally eat them for almost every meal of the day. I know that sounds excessive, but they are seriously just that good! Amazingly, they do not just taste good but are a healthy option as well. After going vegetarian 7 years ago, my love for chickpeas grew exponentially, and by the end of this article, I bet you will be eager to start on your own journey exploring the endless possibilities this superfood offers.
The Many Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Now before we get into how to cook chickpeas, it is important to learn about all the benefits they provide. We know that this is an article specifically about how to cook chickpeas, but remember that it is always a good idea to learn about the foods that you are putting in your body. It is actually quite interesting learning about how amazing these legumes are for their tiny size. They are packed full of nutrients, fiber, protein, and minerals, making them a worthy addition to your weekly meal plans. Now let’s quickly run through the benefits so that we can get to the fun bit on how to cook chickpeas successfully.
- Brimming With Protein
These teensy beans are jam packed with protein. We recommend those who follow a plant-based diet (or even mostly plant-based) to begin exploring the world of chickpeas. In fact, 1-ounce (28-grams) contains about 3 grams of protein, which can similarly be found in a serving of blackbeans or lentils. (1) This means that one single cup of chickpeas can provide almost one-third of your daily recommended protein intake. (2) If you are really looking to achieve the most nutritious meal, it is best to eat this food partnered with a whole grain, such as rice. This combination creates a complete protein, ensuring you are getting all the amino acids possible.
However, you don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to enjoy this food, everyone can join in on this filling snack. A meal full of chickpeas is guaranteed to promote fullness and will help you keep your appetite under control. (1) Next time you are making lunch, perhaps instead of reaching for the white bread to make a sandwich, grab a can of chickpeas and toss them on top of your salad. We promise you will finish your meal feeling more satisfied and ready to take on the rest of the day. (1)
- Helps The Digestive Process Run Smoothly
Besides just being filled with protein, chickpeas also contain tons of soluble fiber. This means it easily absorbs water and turns into a paste for easier digestion.
Soluble fiber has been linked to increased healthy bacteria in your gut, leading to less instance of irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer. In fact, a study found that 42 people who ate 104 grams of chickpeas daily for three months reported better digestion. (1) If your stomach hurts after every meal, it may be caused by what you are eating. It may be worthwhile adding some chickpeas into your diet and see if there is any improvement.
- Provides A Defense Against Chronic Diseases
The minerals stored within chickpeas are quite remarkable. The magnesium and potassium may help reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing high blood pressure. Chickpea’s saponins are plant compounds that may prevent the development of certain cancers and can stun the growth of existing tumors. The vitamin B found in it has also been found to reduce the risk of breast and lung cancer. (1)
Diabetes is another chronic disease that does not stand a chance against the power of chickpeas. The fiber and protein, which we have already praised, can actually control your blood sugar levels. (1)
How To Cook Chickpeas
Now that we have finished our quick crash course on all that chickpeas can do for us, let us dive straight into how to prepare this superfood. You can buy chickpeas dried or canned. It really does not matter which type you decide upon but realize that there will be a longer cook time for the dried option. This is because you have to soak the beans (typically overnight) before cooking. So, if you are short on time or just super hungry, then go with the canned chickpeas. They are actually my personal preference anyway.
Now canned chickpeas can be eaten straight from the can and only need to be reheated. While there is no special preparation for canned chickpeas, we will tell you how to properly season them, roast them, or grind them into other dishes. But first, let’s learn all about how to prepare the dried alternative.
Making Dried Chickpeas Delicious
You have a bag of dried chickpeas laying around and are not quite sure what to do with it. Well look no further as well have your answers here. Here are 2 different methods on how to get these legumes ready for eating.
Cooking Tip: 1 cup of dried chickpeas will make about 3 cups when cooked (4)
Long Soak Method: Simply add the beans to a large bowl and cover with several inches of water. Leave this out overnight or for 8 hours before cooking (4)
Quick Soak Method: If you are short on time, simply add the beans to a large pot of boiling water. Boil for 1 minute and take the pot off the heat. After sitting for an hour, your chickpeas will be ready for eating. (5)
Quick Disclaimer: After soaking, your beans will still need to be cooked. You have to simmer them in water for 1 and ½ to 2 hours or till desired consistency. If you are looking to make a hummus or dip then you want them soft. It is best to boil them with the lid on, but ajar. If you want them firm to serve as toppings, then cook without the lid. For some extra flavor you can add some bay leaves, garlic cloves and salt to the boiling water. (4)
Ways To Elevate This Legume To The Next Level
Now you have either got your canned chickpeas drained or your dried legumes properly cooked. It’s time to really jazz it up with some interesting recipes. Again, the beauty of this food truly lies in its versatility across various dishes. While you can take them and directly plop them into a soup or chilli for some extra protein, there are some other ways on how you can cook chickpeas.
Roasting is my go-to for chickpeas. They can be made crunchy or just with a slight bite depending on how long you leave them in for. However, what really makes this dish is the seasonings. You really want to pack on the spices for a good chickpea roast. These make great toppings on salads, fillings for tacos, and quick snacks that will surely beat ordinary chips any day.
Tips For Roasting:
- Roast at 375 degrees for about 20-30 minutes for soft chickpeas and 40-50 minutes for crunchy
- Completely dry your chickpeas after draining and rinsing. This will ensure they crisp up and actually roast evenly in the oven rather than steam.
- Peel the skins off your chickpeas. As you are draining the legumes, you may notice some transparent skins coming off, go through and pull them off all for a crispier bean.
- Have fun with the spices! After coating your beans with some olive oil, you are now ready to pack on the flavor. Here are some of our favorite flavor combinations
Blending up chickpeas in a food processor yields some great results as well.
A favorite snack of many, hummus is delicious and quite easy to make. You most likely pick up a container from the grocery store, but have you ever thought of making some on your own? Hummus is not just chickpeas though, but many other ingredients including tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. We recommend you follow this guide to create a magnificent hummus.
This meditterean staple that pairs extremely well with some hummus. All you have to do is grind up some well-cooked chickpeas with some spices. After pulverizing into a paste, add some baking powder to help them hold together. Shape them into patties and begin cooking. While it is traditional to fry falafel, we recommend baking them as a healthier option.
You can also crush chickpeas with a fork to make a sandwich filling. When I began missing tuna salad, I discovered the beauty that is chickpea salad. Once you try it, there is no going back. Really, all you have to do is replace the eggs and tuna with crushed chickpeas. If you are missing that fish taste, then try pulverizing some seaweed as an addition.
Here at Cook & Culture we are all about reducing our food waste, so after using a can of chickpeas make sure to save the brine! Known as aquafaba, the liquid can be used as a replacement for eggs in case you are following a vegan diet or have allergies. You can use it in a blender and make meringue, royal icing, and even vegan mozzarella cheese. To learn more check out The Vegan Society’s full guide on how to use aquafaba.
Chickpeas are a food that taste amazing, are amazing for your body, and help the environment– what else could you ask for? Interested in more protein-packed foods? Then check out our article about the top protein sources. In the meantime, have fun experimenting with this superfood and share with a friend who loves chickpeas!
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