I recently discovered the joy of buying dried chickpeas and cooking them myself instead of buying them canned. I started buying dry beans instead of canned to save some money, but now I'm starting to appreciate the difference in flavor and texture. This photograph shows the beans soaking in my favorite Pyrex bowl.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are one of the many ways I sneak more calcium, protein and fiber into my diet. I toss them on salads. I throw them in pasta with tomato sauce. I make Indian curries with them. I puree them into creamy hummus that I eat on raw carrots, celery and red bell pepper, or on rice crackers. I love their nutty, unique but unimposing flavor, and their soft texture.
Here are instructions for preparing dried chickpeas, and then a recipe for my hands-down favorite chickpea dish, which I'll be having for lunch today with domas (Greek rice-stuffed grape leaves) and a broccoli and feta salad.
Soaking & Cooking Dried Chickpeas
Place dried chickpeas in a bowl or pot and add cold water to cover by 3 inches or more. Leave them at room temperature for 4 hours, or overnight.
Rinse, drain and place in pot. Cover by 4 inches or more with cold water or vegetable stock. For every 2 cups of dried beans, add 1 teaspoon of salt. Optionally, you can add bay leaves, onions or garlic at this point to impart extra flavor.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover partially (leave just a little gap so that some steam can release) and reduce to a simmer. Check the liquid periodically and add more when necessary to ensure that beans are always covered. Cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are soft but not mushy and still retain their shape.
16 ounces cooked garbanzo beans (or one 15-ounce can)
1/3 cup sesame tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 lemons, juiced
1 raw garlic cloves
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 teaspoons hot chili oil
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper (optional)
Combine tahini, olive oil and garlic in food processor or blender. Blend until pureed.
Add remaining ingredients, blend until smooth and creamy consistency.
Serve at room temperature, with pita bread, on crackers, as a sandwich spread, or as a dip for raw vegetables. Store in refrigerator. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 8-10 servings.